My question is somewhat abstract. My entire life I have had this feeling of discontent, this underlying feeling that something is missing. I have researched the worlds religions to some length and found most lacking the spiritual guidance I seek for one reason or another and I feel like I am chasing my tail. I can learn all I like, but as I have heard other gurus say "information is not the same as knowing from personal experience." My question is, where do I start? What action can I take?
Kevin, it is axiomatic to state that the journey for each us is unique and individual. Having said that, it is also true that we magnetically attract to ourselves what we need (based partly on past actions and partly on current intention and energy).
And, it is also true that recognition of one’s spiritual path, guru, etc. is not a function of the mind but of the heart. Swami Kriyananda taught us many things about faith — not belief, but FAITH: how to KNOW! And one of those things is a lesson right out of the Bhagavad Gita: ACTION is clarifying and it is better (indeed, necessary) to take ACTION as INACTION avails us nothing and takes us nowhere.
From the fact that you state you have “researched the worlds’ religions” suggests to me that your search has been impersonal and intellectual rather than active, engaged and involved. It may be a question of not quite knowing what to do first or it might be also a question of unexamined doubt, fear, or hesitancy. But, whatever may be the case, take definite steps of commitment and involvement, testing as you go the feelings of the heart and let the mind take a back seat for a change! :-)
By getting involved in a group or a specific spiritual practice that you find at least interesting would be the first step. Nowadays these things can happen online and that’s ok if you have no choice but consciousness is transmitted most powerfully through its own medium: consciousness! Thus by direct and personal association with others who seem to have what you are seeking (calmness, joy, wisdom, etc.) and with whom you feel a certain compatibilty you will gradually be guided (from within) to KNOW what is for your spiritual growth. There’s no BEST spiritual path: there’s only YOURS! Like Dorothy and her dog Toto in the Wizard of Oz, you very likely don’t have to travel far to find your [spiritual] home.
You can go on retreat, for example, where a particular form of spirituality is practiced. You could go on a spiritual adventure / pilgrimage with a group that seems interesting. Or, perhaps near to you, right in your own town or city, your spiritual family awaits you.
Online with Ananda DOES HAVE online courses and groups if you feel attracted to Yogananda’s teachings and to Ananda but don’t have a local Ananda center or meditation group. But at some point visiting on retreat (www.ExpandingLight.org) would be an important step. It’s always about people. Ideas are fine but cannot really satisfy the heart’s deep need for connection, joy, and fulfillment. Meditation practices are important but their power is best transmitted by meditating with those who have gone ahead, so to speak and can share the vibration of soul awakening. While God, Christ and the master are omnipresent, we are NOT there yet. Thus reaching toward that high vibration is, at first, not so easy and should not be presumed upon. Living instruments of spiritual wisdom and grace are necessary for most of us.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Many blessings upon your search for truth and for God!
Seattle WA USA