I am watching the Bhagavad Gita, and James is talking about devotional practices that we should do.
I thought it would be a good idea to ask you to outline a daily routine that I could or should be following. Right now I am going over the last few chapters of how to attain enlightenment and viewing the Bhagavad Gita videos as well as reading the Bhagavad Gita translation. Today is a rare day when I will have most of the day to myself. I plan to get a lot of reading and listening in today. Any other suggestions on what I should do?
On a normal day I have been meditating for a half hour in the morning then doing about a half hour to an hour of reading and then doing yoga exercises for an hour then swimming exercise in the afternoon. In between times I have been doing more reading and watching videos as well as household chores and obligations. In the evening and during the day I spend some time with my girlfriend helping or accompanying her with things she is doing.
I don’t have the all consuming desire for Enlightenment that I have heard and read about, but I have noticed that I am becoming more protective of the time for studying Vedanta and have pretty well dropped most other reading.
Perhaps there is no reply needed, but if you can offer any comments or suggestions I would appreciate it.
Vedanta is not a rigid practice. There are no “shoulds.” Do what feels right for you. The most important aspect of spiritual practice is that whatever you do is meaningful to you. Spiritual practice is not about the techniques utilized or how much time you devote to each particular technique. Sure, there are certain techniques, such as the meditation that James describes in “How to Attain Enlightenment,” chanting (if you are familiar with chanting and enjoy it), deity worship, etc. But there is no right way to do spiritual practice. What is important is your attitude. Are you offering your actions to the field and trusting that the field will take care of the results? Are you using meditation as a means of discriminating between the objects that arise in your mind and you—i.e., the pure awareness by means of whose “light” these objective phenomena are known/observed/perceived?
The routine you currently follow is more than sufficient. Just expose yourself to and contemplate the teachings as much as you can. Then, when you are interacting with the world, so to speak, practice karma yoga and nididhyasana (i.e., contemplate the teachings and apply them to your actions and interactions). Spiritual practice doesn’t stop when you leave the sanctity of your meditation room or the quietude of your home. It is an ongoing process that continues 24/7.
From the tenor of your recent questions, I get the feeling you are trying to “do Vedanta perfectly.” But that’s not the approach to take. Yes, you do need to put forth an effort to study scripture (by which I mean reading texts and listening to talks from a qualified teacher), engage in self-inquiry, and do spiritual practice to cultivate a pure mind. But there is no formula. Just devote as much time as you wish and let the teachings do the work. You don’t change your mind, the teachings do. You don’t drop your habitual tendencies (i.e., binding vasanas), knowledge of their incapacity to provide lasting fulfillment and freedom causes them to lose their hold on you and drop away on their own.
It sounds like Vedanta is pretty high priority for you, so just do what you can and leave the rest to Isvara, which is actually just the personification of the dharma-governed cause-and-effect process by which the manifestation operates. If you put forth the effort to expose yourself to the teachings, engage in self-inquiry, and apply atma-anatma-viveka to each and every experience of your life, then you can trust Isvara to “bless” you with self-knowledge.
All the best,