Sunday Service: How to Judge Spiritual Progress


Week of Sept 14 – 20, 2014

Last week we highlighted a spiritual talk about pilgrimage and the effect on spirituality that can come from visiting holy places.

The talk mentioned a magical moment when I felt one and the same with the saint, Sri Ramakrishna. Even if I had not had a mystical vision, the pilgrimage still would have been worth it. In fact, mystical visions and supersensory phenomena are entirely besides the point. They can even keep us from a deeper spirituality if we get caught up in outward signs of spiritual progress. Real spirituality does not require mystical visions or special phenomena.

This week we drive home that point with a talk about the limited value of mystical phenomena and how really to judge spiritual progress.


Peter Kowalke


LevitationThis Week’s Spiritual Talk

Judging Spiritual Progress

By Peter Kowalke

Faith. When people think about religion, most think about this idea of faith. The skeptic argues that the spiritual practitioner needs faith to follow something that makes no sense. The spiritual practitioner argues that faith is essential because the deepest truths are beyond the limitations of the senses.

Neither is quite right. There is proof, and we can see it. But spirituality is subtle, so we won’t be hit over the head with it. It is not like being turned on by a sexy woman. It is more like slowly falling in love with your best friend; one day you wake up and realize you are in love, even though you might have been slowly falling in love with them for years.

So if spirituality is subtle, observing spiritual progress is not an easy task.

New spiritual practitioners sometimes think the answer lies in mystical visions and supersensory phenomena, in levitation and voices from God. Such shows of spiritual power are not indicative of much, however, as we’ve discussed elsewhere. A man in the driver’s seat of a car and one in the trunk both reach the destination at the same time, even if only one is seeing the scenery along the way. Likewise, visions can come from our imagination and prove to be nothing more than attempts at validating our path.

So what are the criteria of progress if visions and phenomena are not?

(read more)


videoVedanta Television

American Vedanta on YouTube

Finding lasting happiness. Applying the Bhagavad Gita to daily life. Learning about the history of Vedanta in the U.S. These are some of the topics covered at American Vedanta’s YouTube channel. We curate a list of spiritual videos that will help advance your spirituality and expand your mind. When wanting spiritual videos, give our YouTube channel a look.

We also recommend other resources such as Booksaudio lectures and web sites, among other resources.


Spiritual Fitness

Do You have a Spiritual Routine?

Vedanta, if not practical, has no other relevancy. The key to practical Vedanta is an individualized spiritual routine.

There are six components of a good spiritual routine.

Swan1. Find a Community. If you have an existing church, temple or mosque, attend regularly. If not, join our Facebook group and see our list of recommended spiritual organizations.

2. Seek Guidance. Find a mentor within your existing spiritual community or contact us for a referral.

3. Attend Spiritual Services Regularly. If you don’t live near an appropriate spiritual community, we offer a weekly spiritual talk delivered by email, Facebook and Twitter. We also host a regular Vedanta Dinner for those who live in the New York City area.

4. Incorporate Individual Study. We keep a list of books and resources for your individual study needs.

5. Take Responsibility for Your Spiritual Life. Read our talk about listening to your own inner compass and contact us when you have a question that your spiritual community isn’t answering adequately.

6. Leverage Rituals Thoughtfully. As an example, read our essay about the power of saying grace.

Our longer talk about spiritual routine can be found here.

Happy Sunday! Peace be unto you. Peace be unto all.

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