Guiding Light: Matter and Spirit of Life by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Life is more than matter. Human life is a combination of both matter and spirit. If it were just matter, there would be no need for comfort. Matter does not have finer values as comfort or discomfort, beauty or ugliness, joy or sorrow; they belong to the realm of the spirit. But life is also more than spirit. If it were just spirit, there would be no need for water, food, or rest. Spirit experiences and expresses values. Values are feelings and emotions which cannot be captured totally by words or understood by the intellect. The goal of the spiritual path is to understand the spiritual dimension of life and live fully all the values that the spirit represents. What are those values? Peace, love, joy, beauty, unlimited knowledge and the capacity to understand both mind and matter.

Everything one does is directed towards one goal — happiness, or comfort. Often people think that comfort comes materially — through matter alone. No, comfort is a quality of consciousness. To some degree it does depend on matter, but to a greater degree it depends on attitude and understanding.

You listen, you understand and you absorb. Who is understanding? Who is absorbing? It is the spirit in your body that is taking in the knowledge. And this knowledge is not coming through sight, sound, smell, taste and touch alone. It is also coming from inside as intuition. You can say that at every level of consciousness, knowledge is present. And consciousness is present! If it were nothing, it could not be present. It is something, yet not finite. You cannot measure consciousness, it is present and infinite.

Consciousness is peace. You are peace; you are truth; and you are energy. The Self is knowledge, the knowing and the knower. This consciousness is love — you are love. Understanding and living this is the spiritual life. Life attains its richest form through the spiritual dimension. Without it, life becomes very shallow and you are unhappy, dependent, depressed and miserable. The spiritual dimension brings a great sense of belongingness, responsibility, compassion and caring for the whole of humanity. The spiritual dimension — in its true form — demolishes the narrow boundaries of caste, creed, religion and nationality. Wars will be eliminated only through spiritual understanding.

The spiritual path is not an escape from life. It means taking responsibility. If you are ready to take responsibility for twenty people, two thousand people, twenty million people — then you are on the path.

Also Read: 'Spirituality can reverse the decaying human being into a more fulfilling, wise human society' - Sri Sri Ravi Shankar