Author Topic: What is the measure of spiritual progress?  (Read 17573 times)

WoselTenzin

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What is the measure of spiritual progress?
« on: June 28, 2011, 05:57:21 PM »
I presume most if not all of us here in this forum are Dharma practitioners.  Have we ever stopped to think whether after all the years that we have practised if we have made any headway or are we still stuck as who we were 10 years or more ago?  How do we know if we have made any progress in our spiritual practice?

What is the measure of our progress? Is more knowledge in the Dharma a measure of spiritual progress? Is having more inner peace and happiness a measure of spiritual progress? Is being less attached, angry, jealous and hateful is measure of spiritual progress?

How can we tell whether a person has progress spiritually? 


Positive Change

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Re: What is the measure of spiritual progress?
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2011, 03:39:27 AM »
Good question WoselTenzin...

For me personally, I do not think there is a yardstick for measuring one's success as everyone has a different journey of discovery and realizations. And we are most often our worst critic as we constantly either overate or underate or own "successes"

The best gauge I feel is actually the people around you. Why I say this is because they are the one's with the non biased "judgements". Hence if we are complimented on how we seem different (calmer, kinder, less angry, etc) in a positive way, that is a pretty good indication we are on the right track.

If the opposite happens, our alarm bells should be ringing!!!

After all, our spiritual practice is inevitably cultivated to help others and if we cannot simply "help" from our mere example, how can we truly even begin to think we can benefit others.

KhedrubGyatso

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Re: What is the measure of spiritual progress?
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2011, 04:24:03 AM »
There is outer and there is inner progress.
Outer is important from the point of view of not causing harm to others and benefiting them.This will apply to one's bodily actions and what we say.Hence , if others say positive things about us especially when compared to the period before we start our spiritual journey, its a  sign we are doing something good. However that does not necessarily equate with spirituality. Many people , including bad guys, can do that for certain occasions or temporarily. We are good at showing off the good side of ourselves obviously but keeping the dark side hidden from view.

Inner is actually more important because if there is no improvement to one's knowledge,  wisdom and virtuous qualities like love and kindness, we cannot be sure if what we do to others will have the desired results. Most of the time we assume it works and basing our decision  on short term observations  with personal bias.
There are many levels of spirituality and hence many definitions. If we are to base it on Buddhism, then the 3 scopes of Lamrim will be a good starting point to understand what constitutes true spirituality. It may not be the  popularly promoted or casual kind we  think we know or can accept without engaging in deeper reflection.



Big Uncle

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Re: What is the measure of spiritual progress?
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2011, 09:54:18 AM »
There are many ways to check out spiritual practice. One of them is to check how fast we are able to let go of negative emotions that arise daily like disappointment, anger, jealousy etc. If we are students of the Dharma for long, we should already notice a difference and people around us would have noticed this and feedback to us or be inspired by our practice.

This leads to the next yardstick. How many people, particularly those who are close to us, are inspired to practice the Dharma or inspire those who are practicing the Dharma to do even more. This is not an easy yardstick for people but if we really want to practice the Dharma, it is one of the best. Frankly, I inspire very little people to the Dharma although I have been in it for years.

The other yardstick is how much do we contribute back to the organisation or center that we have received the Dharma from. If we have received so much benefit from the teachings of a particular Dharma center or Lama, we should contribute time, effort or even money back to the center. If we have given very little back, it shows where our practice is.
 

samayakeeper

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Re: What is the measure of spiritual progress?
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2011, 03:56:36 AM »
Re: What is the measure of spiritual progress?

To expand on what Bug Uncle wrote:

By letting go of our attachment is not to let that thought or action done to continue disturbing our mind. It is easier said than done because humans are creatures of habits but we got to put it into practice.

Inspiration to others to enroll them onto the dharma path means we should set a good example by changing our bad habits. This makes people around us wonder what made us a better person from before. Then maybe they start to show us respect but it should not mean we want their respect to feed our ego. It should be the kind of respect that they want to practice dharma because we have shown them what dharma can do, change us.

Being grateful is another measure. Most times we are grabby due to greed and think that when we go to a dharma center we are doing it a favor by volunteering. Sometimes we get annoyed when people in the dharma center asked us to contribute time, effort and money. Our memory span is so short that we forgot why we are practicing dharma and how dharma has been benefiting us. Our miserliness and laziness stop us from giving, be it money or time. Doing Dorje Shugden practice is very efficacious to improve our memory for He is none other than Lord Manjushri in wrathful form.

 A good measure is to do a self check if we are practicing the Six Paramitas and how we have improved since we came to know and practice dharma. If we cannot do a self-check then maybe we may ask our loved ones, relatives, friends, colleagues, etc if we are more

Generous?
Disciplined?
Patient?
Are we putting more effort into our daily lives?
Is our mind more stabilized?
Do we make wise decisions?


pgdharma

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Re: What is the measure of spiritual progress?
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2011, 05:26:11 AM »
Well from my point of view, spiritual progress can be judged by people who are often associated with us like our family, colleagues or close friends. The change in us as to  cutting of attachment, be  more tolerant and  less angry are some of the tell tale signs that we have transformed. It may not be an instant change but  through time it will. However, I feel that the best person to  judge on our spiritual progress is our self. We have to be honest with our self and reflect on how spiritual practices have benefited and transformed us. We looked back at that time when we have met the dharma  and till now, how much have we progress....we are our own judge, we have to be truthful with our selves. Each one of us have different level of progress. Some people progress will be faster than others as they realized the importance of spiritual practice and are willing to put in much more effort to change their habituation

WisdomBeing

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Re: What is the measure of spiritual progress?
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2011, 10:46:21 AM »
I agree with all the above. Sometimes we can check in with ourselves to see if we are applying the Buddhist principles of being kinder and more patient. Sometimes we think we are being 'better' but our friends and families may remind us that we're not and it is simply us fooling ourselves that we are being nicer people. Personally i have found that after learning about Buddhism, I am becoming more aware of my own emotions and while I am not yet in control of them (yes i still get pissed off more often than i would like), I do feel that as soon as I become aware of a negative feeling, it stops it from escalating into full blown rage, which it has done previously. So i feel that is some kind of progress.

In learning more, and doing my daily practice, I hope that I will continue to progress along the path and my erratic and psychotic episodes become less :)
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

dsiluvu

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Re: What is the measure of spiritual progress?
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2011, 11:40:41 AM »
This is a good question... and yes agree with WB
Quote
Sometimes we think we are being 'better' but our friends and families may remind us that we're not and it is simply us fooling ourselves that we are being nicer people.

Most often I think I am getting better, doing better, getting the results but is it really??? How do I still make others feel and are those around me happy with me, are the feedbacks better or same or worst. Through your own family and friends that dare tell you the truth, they are my measuring stick. And I really appreciate those friends who can be straight forward and tell it to my face then behind my back. Or a friend who would kindly point out my mistake without a vengeance or any agenda. It is these type of friends who will stick by you through thick and thin because they know who you really are and instead of just avoiding you, they help you by being honest and still sticking around you. They to me show more care then those who just laugh around and then go away.

It is hard to hear feedback, it is painful, but if I am to really want to make a change, the bitter medicine taken now is better then when it is too too late and I have no more time to change. Karma is still there and it always gets you when you least need it or expect it. So if we can take the first step by listening to what others have to say, being open, and then try a different method, I think we will progress, slowly but surely.  Dharma has definitely helped me to be more open, to acknowledge my mistakes and to amend them as quickly as I can. I now stop blaming the world outside but instead look at the world inside me more... the hunt of the evil monster is within.

Rihanna

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Re: What is the measure of spiritual progress?
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2011, 02:34:40 AM »
Dear WoselTenzin,

I wish to share with you what Lama Gangchen taught on how one can check the results of one's practice:

1) Observe if one's feelings and energy have increased and developed in a positive way and becoming more stable?

2) Is one's wisdom and method flowing?

3) Does one have clearer visualization, more joy and bliss, inner peace and a stronger wish to help others?

Hope this helps.





I presume most if not all of us here in this forum are Dharma practitioners.  Have we ever stopped to think whether after all the years that we have practised if we have made any headway or are we still stuck as who we were 10 years or more ago?  How do we know if we have made any progress in our spiritual practice?

What is the measure of our progress? Is more knowledge in the Dharma a measure of spiritual progress? Is having more inner peace and happiness a measure of spiritual progress? Is being less attached, angry, jealous and hateful is measure of spiritual progress?

How can we tell whether a person has progress spiritually? 



KhedrubGyatso

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Re: What is the measure of spiritual progress?
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2011, 03:18:54 AM »
I find Big Uncle's measures very practical and sensible to check especially if we belong to a Dharma centre. There are many subjective ways we can abide by to gauge progress but those mentioned by BU is meaningful and like acid test as it is by the yardstick of how much we are benefitting others and by how much we see tangible changes in our daily routine.There must be effort and sacrifices initially, so that is a measure of one's determination and sincerity to walk the talk. Mahayana Dharma has to be lived and acted out in order to proof its validity in the eyes of others.I remember Rinpoche saying results are important in the bodhisattva path.In the Theravadan tradition causes are more important.

Personally , if I look back a few years ago compared to now, I find that my life is now centred around dharma activities instead of previously when my  hobbies and other mostly monetary pursuits is foremost in importance.Simultaneously I find more meaning in this shift and that comes from being more aware and caring of others and deriving joy and meaning in helping others on personal and collective level in an organisation. This does not mean I don't ' enjoy' worldly social activities but they do not seem so urgent or central in my mind now.

Tenzin K

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Re: What is the measure of spiritual progress?
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2011, 02:14:38 PM »
I agree with Big Uncle's comments.

How we measure the progress is by checking whether we still hold on to our negative feelings when we being challenge.

I remember that a friend of mine told me that by learning dharma and practice it correctly one will able accept any challenges and not run or hide away from it. I think this is pretty much easy to measure. Every single challenges we overcome with dharma practice make us move to another level and we are able to accept bigger challenges.

Of course if we really practice the dharma the people around us will definitely able to feel the changes on us. Our consistent act through our sincerity and pure motivation would not be able fake.   

WoselTenzin

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Re: What is the measure of spiritual progress?
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2011, 06:34:43 AM »

How we measure the progress is by checking whether we still hold on to our negative feelings when we being challenge.


It happened that suddenly you do not react to people who try to hurt you anymore.  Strangely those hurtful words do not affect you the way it used to. Instead you will feel as though you are not involved and are watching a movie of whatever that is taking place and you feel compassion for the person who is consumed with anger.

Recollecting that moment and analysing what happened, you realize that you are now able to see beyond senseless negative exchange.  It is at that point that you know you have made some spiritual progress.

Positive Change

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Re: What is the measure of spiritual progress?
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2011, 08:24:25 AM »

How we measure the progress is by checking whether we still hold on to our negative feelings when we being challenge.


It happened that suddenly you do not react to people who try to hurt you anymore.  Strangely those hurtful words do not affect you the way it used to. Instead you will feel as though you are not involved and are watching a movie of whatever that is taking place and you feel compassion for the person who is consumed with anger.

Recollecting that moment and analysing what happened, you realize that you are now able to see beyond senseless negative exchange.  It is at that point that you know you have made some spiritual progress.

I think we should also go a step further and not just purely be like a block of unfeeling wood. That I do not think is healthy too! I think it should not "effect" us in a way that makes us retaliate in a negative way but it should "effect" in a way that makes us want to try to help that person even more. Because imagine what it must be like for that person, so engulfed with anger and hurt that they could in turn do the same to another person... AND creating more negative karma for him/her to experience it further. Too much pain and too much anger!

I mentioned in previous post of how I have myself been in an abusive relationship and I know first hand what it feels like. However, if someone were to tell me I could turn back time and change anything I wanted, this one aspect of my life or experience I would NEVER change as it has taught me an invaluable lesson which was not an easy pill to swallow by any means but it has made me who I am now. If only I knew then what I know now, I think I could have help that person and myself more... but that does not mean I can't learn from that experience and perhaps in sharing I can "teach" others how to go through that very testing trial.

For me that is a good measure of spiritual progress.... how we take our so called negative experiences in our lives and transform it into something positive which will benefit others!

Klein

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Re: What is the measure of spiritual progress?
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2011, 03:49:11 PM »
A few aspects we can measure may be:
1) Are we less attached?
2) Do we have less negative emotions?
3) Are we benefitting others more regardless of how we are inconvenienced?
4) Are we kinder?

Tammy

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Re: What is the measure of spiritual progress?
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2011, 08:18:01 AM »
Thank you all for sharing, all the points raised make perfect sense to me, and they are very good points for reflection on whether we are progressing at the right direction, spiritually.

Just to add:
If a person cease feeling attached to worldly materiality (e.g. thinks corporate politics is the worst thing to do), does this mean this person is making some progress spiritually?

Down with the BAN!!!