Spirituality in practice – Contrast between the two pathways

Earlier we have addressed the question of “Who am I?” This question can be answered based on an analytical understanding of our experiences. This analysis starts with the axiom that “All our experiences are the outcome of the connection between the Consciousness and anything other than that (perceived as the cognitive world) through our portals of body, mind and intellect”.  All such cognitive effects end up in the connectors: Knowledge, Bias and Ignorance. Our focus on these connectors and their nature and the details surrounding them are the means for the better understanding of our experiences. This analytical approach leads to a natural separation of “I” – the consciousness – and “I” – the cognitive existence. This understanding of the separation between the two aspects of “I”, when it becomes a natural aspect of life, then it is described as enlightened living. This explicit awareness of the Consciousness and everything other than that is also described as “Self-Realization”.


Such enlightened living is perceived through the “Divine” or spiritual qualities we exhibit in our day-to-day life. The analysis of our experience could be flawed or insufficient on occasions. In those situations we find ourselves limited by our responses and fail to exhibit the strength of divine or spiritual qualities. This is “unenlightened living”. Our behavior under these conditions is described as “earthly” or “materialistic”. In theological terms these may be termed as “demonic” in contrast to the “divine” or “angelic” qualities.

Chapter 16 of B.G. lays out clearly the contrast between the enlightened and unenlightened manner of living. We present the following extended excerpt from this chapter. Life in general is a spectrum between the two extremes – of the enlightened and un-enlightened manner of living. The goal should not be to dwell on the absolutes of these extremes described below and hence extol one and demonize the other. Instead, the goal should be, for a constant vigilance of these two pathways and an attempt to steer the ship of life, more towards the enlightened and also more away from the un-enlightened way of living.

The qualities of enlightened living (also descried as “divine” qualities) are: Fearlessness; tranquility; enlightenment through self-control out of intense analysis or introspection; steadiness or consistency of purpose; self less giving of  benefit to those in need; Self-less nature evidenced through actions; study of scriptures, austerity or contemplation as a means of self-control; straight forwardness; non violence; truthfulness; total freedom from anger or passion; renunciation of self focused needs; peacefulness; absence of deceit ; sincere and kind consideration to the needs of others; a state of steady mind unaffected by desires;  gentle manners; modesty, steadiness or stable behavior; vigorous ; forgiving nature, tolerance or fortitude; purity as reflected by absence of malice and absence of uncontrolled pride.                        B.G.16.1 to 3.

Qualities  opposed to enlightened existence  are:  Lack of commitment to principles, hypocrisy or ostentation, arrogance or self-centered pride , deceit of oneself through his/her own pride; anger arising out of desire and self-centered passion; insensitivity, insolence or harshness; ignorance or lack of knowledge or understanding.                      B.G. 16.4.

All the living beings exist under these two pathways:  The enlightened or the “beyond the materialistic” and the unenlightened or the “materialistic”.

The “Divine” qualities lead a person to an enlightened living. The unenlightened person remains as such due to his/her connectors resulting from bondage or attachments to the “pairs” such as pleasure/pain, happiness/sorrow, love/hatred, etc., which inhibit self-control and liberation from such attachments.  Fellow human beings: Be aware that you are born of “Divine” qualities.        B.G. 16.5 

The unenlightened are not aware of the distinctions between activities which require involvement and activities which should be avoided.  Such persons also lack clarity of mind attained through sustained analysis, proper manners or conduct befitting the occasion and truthfulness. Such unenlightened persons say “A person is nothing more than a physical being brought about by the union (between a couple) caused by passion. To them, in this world there is no other purpose, reason, basis, truth or higher order (God)”. These unenlightened persons and holding such views due to their lack of reasoning participate, indulge or bring forth fierce activities, leading to the destruction of the world or space in which they exist,  which they treat with enmity. Such (unenlightened) persons with their views lacking in reasoning (and hence foolish ideas) pursue  their activities filled with insatiable desire, self-serving reasoning or hypocrisy, arrogance or pride arising out of self-centered views, delusion or attachments to the world of activities and their effects. They pursue the fulfillment of their desires as their only goal.  The result of such pursuit is an obsession for endless anxieties which end only at the death of the person. Such unenlightened persons driven by endless desires and tied down by passion and anger strive to attain or gather wealth (or material benefits) for their personal gratification, if necessary even by improper or unlawful means. Such persons speak out of their ignorance, “This is my gain today.  This desire of mine shall be met today.  This is my wealth, which I shall acquire more or further again. This is my enemy and I shall eliminate him/her. I shall identify more enemies for their destruction. I am the king, who is perfect and my strength brings me happiness.  I am wealthy and superior by birth and no one else is equal to me.  I shall conduct the rituals of sacrifice and give away wealth in the name of charity, only as a means for my enjoyment”. Such unenlightened persons bound by the web of desires and confused by limitless thoughts or notions and influenced by the joys of their desires fall into a trap of their own making (described as falling into a foul hell). In a self-conceited manner, such unenlightened persons of inflexible reasoning, driven by their pride of personal belongings, offer sacrifices only in their name and not according to the principles or basic values – of total self-control and unattached active participation. These (unenlightened) persons of malicious nature driven by their self-centered pride (ego), power, pride, desires and anger show their contempt or anger towards nature and the larger order it represents (or the Lord) in their own bodies and in that of others.              B.G. 6 to 18.

There are three principal reasons for this destructive approach to life by any person. These are:

  • Desire or attachments to “pairs” of pleasure/pain, love/hatred. happiness/sorrow, etc.
  • Uncontrolled anger arising out of unsatisfied desires and their effects.
  • Greed or tendency for insatiability of desires.

One should abandon these three reasons or sources of destruction. They are the impediments from his/her becoming enlightened.     B.G. 16.21.

The evidences and the outcome of these two pathways – the enlightened and the un-enlightened – are readily recognized at their extremes. But, for most of us, life is a constant spectrum of experiences between these two extremes. Precise recognition of the situation – a true measure of our experience – is the also a measure of our objectivity in the anatomy of our experiences. We shall discuss such OBJECTIVITY in our next essay.

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2 Responses to Spirituality in practice – Contrast between the two pathways

  1. pushpa says:

    Very intense but easily understood discussion and thanks for taking the time to post it for others to read. I look forward to the next posting. I felt stimulated by reading this first thing in the morning.


    • sipractce says:

      Yes, I was concerned that the last essay was a bit intense. I try to
      keep such intense essays interspersed with a few light hearted – at least
      easier to read – ones. I am always concerend when I publish such intense ones, with the
      fear that I may loose the readership. But, as long as there is even one person who appreciates
      it – as you have done with your comment – it makes it all worthwhile.


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