Ask yourself-what are the most meaningful memories that come to your mind again and again to serve as inspiration for your spiritual life? I am willing to guess that they aren’t memories of something you read, or watched online, or even heard in an abstract talk on Vedanta or any other spiritual tradition. Most likely your most meaningful memories involve some kind of personal contact with a teacher, a friend, or a group of people. Maybe you heard someone else tell a personal story or reminiscence that you find very inspiring.
That is certainly my experience. I have been on a spiritual path since I was 13 and now I am 60.
I have always loved reading, loved to learn. I have read literally hundreds of spiritual books, studied Sanskrit so I could read the scriptures and study them without relying on the translations. Like everyone else I am online reading and watching. All of that is important, but what I keep returning to for inspiration is memories and stories, particularly the ones that happened to me or someone I know. In fact, hearing the stories of others might be more inspiring than reflecting on my own.
You can’t get that online. The most important ingredient for spiritual growth is personal contact with great souls, teachers and spiritual friends. The current trend and fad to think that everything one needs can be found online is alarming. The thought seems to be that , if there is cyber-darshan, why set foot in a spiritual center? Ask “Google Maharaj” and all you need for your spiritual life will be given! Even more alarming is that personal contact is being sacrificed in some ashrams and centers to the unseen online millions of potential viewers.
Human contact is critical for spiritual growth. As Sri Ramakrishna said, one of the most important practices is to seek and keep holy company. I hope we are not forgetting that. Stories told, examples set, by those we respect and love-their power lies in personal contact. Let us always ready to keep holy company and to cherish the stories that are born there. All company is holy company.