The Eight Spiritual Ideals

Spiritual leaders have established practices and signposts for others. Some of these people were so powerful that entire religions formed around them. Today many of their teachings have become our spiritual ideals. They help us define ourselves and to find our own divine nature.

Called “The Eight Ds,” here are eight ideals for leading a spiritual life (and yes, each one begins with the letter “D”):

The Eight “Ds”

1. Decision
We wake up one day and find that we have made a choice to be on the path of spiritual development and evolution. We may move slowly or quickly, but once the decision is made, the process is ongoing.

2. Discriminating Mind
Once we make some progress, we realize–falsely–that we are superior to other humans. We feel good about ourselves based upon this conclusion that is founded in isolation from others. This is, of course, an entirely false sense of progress.

The antidote is humility based upon discrimination. We realize, finally, that nobody is any better than anyone else. We need only look to the ones around whom world religions have formed. They did not announce their presence and say that now we could start the new religion around them. Instead, they came to serve us.

3. Dedication
We renew the decision at regular intervals by our actions, and by our mental and emotional behavior and traditional physical or spiritual disciplines.

4. Detachment
We all have goals and objectives we desire to reach. The desire for enlightenment, for instance, is a good desire. But eventually we will detach from any expected outcome of our activities. This is called detached attachment. It seems paradoxical, but in this form of detachment, the activity itself is the important thing. Being in the moment is the only item of importance. Concentration is so complete that any thought of a goal involving the activity becomes absorbed in the process of doing the activity itself.

5. Discipline
Classically, this is the application of specific methods on a regular basis that we understand will lead to our spiritual goal. True discipline will encounter blockages that must be overcome.

6. Dispassion
Dispassion means dispersal of the great, uncontrolled emotions that sweep through the mind. These waves can be harnessed to some degree by converting them to joy and devotion. When the mind becomes clear and tranquil, everything becomes more transparent.

7. Devotion
With the recognition of the spiritual ideal, whether through principle or person, there is positive emotional response. This is the beginning of devotion. The pitfall is, of course, fanaticism. But by keeping a universal outlook and practicing tolerance, devotion can become one of the most useful states.

8. Duty
In the midst of our spiritual journey, most of us have responsibilities: spouse, children, job, or parents. In our search for the right path for spiritual advancement, we must not be fooled into thinking that abdication of duty and responsibility will lead to spiritual progress.

Adapted from Chakra Mantras, by Thomas Ashley-Farrand (Weiser Books, 2006). Copyright (c) 2006 by Thomas Ashley-Farrand. Reprinted by permission of Weiser Books.
Adapted from Chakra Mantras, by Thomas Ashley-Farrand (Weiser Books, 2006).