How Do You Know if You’re Having an Existential Crisis?


After 3-4 months of starting my sadhana I was growing spiritually through meditation, japa, worship, fasting, affirmations etc. Everything was blissful until one day, I saw a flash that the soul is different from the false identity I had created in all these years (Ego). This became a traumatic experience to me coz it paralyzed me and I stopped all my activities as everything seemed false and meaningless after that. Now, I don't seek spirituality as i once was before that event. What happened?

—Rajul , India


Dear Rajul,

See your flash of insight as a great gift: one that very few devotees are privileged to see. Yes: it is a challenge; indeed, to the ego it is a threat. 99.99% of spiritual teachings, actions, ritual, prayer, and meditation remain like a cyclone encircling the ego. Rare is he who pierces the veil of doership; the vortex of ego-centric activity (thoughts, emotions and actions). While the I-Thou relationship is far easier for “embodied beings” (as Krishna states in the Gita), it is, ultimately, a way station. The great Ramakrishna Paramhansa was forcibly driven past the vision of Divine Mother by his guru, Totapuri, and thus freed from the Divine Lila to taste what is Beyond.

Be not afraid or discouraged. Take within yourself the experience you have had and bring it to the “table” of your sadhana. Offer it as if in arati as you conduct your sadhana, for your sadhana re-awakened your higher Self and granted you a great boon. But like all boons they can “boomerang”. That is not their intent, but it is a spiritual test, and it is one rare to receive. (Many might intellectually contemplate ego-transcendence, but it is the ego that contemplates it and thus remains fully ensconced in the driver’s seat.)

You have received both a gift and a spiritual test of your faith. Your cup is half full not half empty. Go with joy and faith into your life, even as you retain the feeling of transcendence beyond the duality of life. The great ones enjoy this “twofold existence” and so should we aspire to do so. In the words of a Christian saint, a great “doctor” of spiritual psychology, “Let nothing disturb you, nothing afright you. All things will pass, but God changes not. Patient endurance brings you to victory. Once you have God you’ll want nothing more.”

Be of good cheer! Be a seer!
Nayaswami Hriman