A spiritual path awakens the sleep of illusion…
At some point, you may start to feel like life has lost its luster. You may feel yourself wondering why you are here, why everyone and everything is here, and what is the purpose of life. You may begin to yearn and long for the truth about existence, even if you are not sure how to go about looking for this truth. At this point, you have taken the first step toward a spiritual path….
A spiritual path begins with an intuition that there must be something more to life, and its practices aim to free us from prior conditioning and illusory perceptions. It is a path of awakening and stripping away the layers that block our awareness of existence. Over time, we become less reactive to life and more aware of who we really are. We identify less and less with our aches, pains, frustrations, and discomforts, and begin to see ourselves beyond our life experiences.
We begin to relax into life and relate to everything with greater ease. And, as this continues, we start to feel a living stream that pervades us all, as the fabric that is – literally – living all existence. With this awareness, we feel joy, freedom, happiness, and relationship in its true form. Our lives begin to reflect this awakening more and more. “Love” takes on a whole new meaning, transmuting from a conditional emotion to the living force that is reality.
Awakening to the fundamental relationship with and among all becomes the basis of our existence. When we truly let go into this connection to reality, the Light in all becomes our identity, and This is what lives our life through the body and mind. Service to others, care, connection, and joy arise naturally and spontaneously.
A spiritual path moves us out of the endless chatter of the mind…
Although you may initially enter a spiritual path through the mind – by asking questions, analyzing spiritual writings, and thinking about your life – this mind approach is ultimately limited and must be surrendered to the emerging faculty of the intuition of reality.
Our culture emphasizes the training and education of the mind. Thus, it is no surprise that intuition is not considered an intelligence at all. Furthermore, our intuition is frequently clouded by the lack of clarity of how we perceive reality. However, as our perception clears and our intuition is trained, intuition becomes a channel for transformation.
The mind is still useful, but it takes its proper place on the tool belt of experiencing reality, rather than being the primary way to make sense of reality.
A spiritual path can be uncomfortable…
True transformation that unites with the living Light stream, when it occurs, is unmistakable and permanent. This transformation changes how you perceive the world around you and your relationship to it. You feel the living Light physically as your body.
Until you are transformed, the feeling of the infinite may come and go. At some point, It stays….You will know this, and others will feel it from you.
The path to transformation can be extremely uncomfortable because who you think you are is being dismantled. All of your attachments, insecurities, and hurts – regardless of how deeply buried in your unconscious, are brought into the Light – one by one – to be surrendered. Our spiritual teachers offer us the energy and inspiration we need to help us break free.
Practicing connection to ourselves and the world is a channel that leads to awakening. However, this heartfelt connection can also stir up what we want to block, forget, avoid, and run from. The process of becoming aware of the totality of ourselves can be very uncomfortable and even scary. When you deeply identify with a certain perception of yourself, it can be very challenging to let go.
I remember how I defended, fought, ignored, and denied insights about myself offered by my teacher and life situations. In many cases, an insight from my teacher felt like an attack. Now, I see those confrontations for what they were – a gift of force to help me break through my illusion. The closer the Light got to my core illusion, the more resistance I felt to letting it go. Eventually, the resistance itself dissolved.
Without proper preparation for the spiritual path and the help of an awakened teacher, you may become overwhelmed by the intense energies running through you. Preparation for this path is essential.
A spiritual path is easier with proper preparation…
Preparation for a spiritual journey is about cultivating a soft and gentle heart toward ourselves, others, and the planet.
I did not properly prepare for the spiritual path when I started. I entered with a hardened heart and fiery intensity. I pushed and pushed toward – what I considered – a “goal.” One of my teachers called me Agnibhakti – a devotee of fire. Regardless of how much my Ego was confronted, I stayed in the spiritual burning state and worked through it – always coming back for more. While perseverance and steadfast resolve to keep coming back to the practice is important, I could have tempered this fire with a loving and caring attitude toward myself.
Since a very young age, I did not like myself. I felt that, if transformed, I would become more lovable, more worthy, and so on….It is this dissatisfaction with myself that pushed and pushed me on the path. My intensity was good for getting a job done, but not for truly connecting with people.
In hindsight, this made my transformation process much more difficult and more painful than it could have been. Although the transformation softened me to some degree, I had to let go of much more for years thereafter to continue to soften. Perhaps this is the way it had to be for me – learning to balance intensity and softness. The more I soften, the more deeply my body entwines with the living Light stream, and the more focused is my intensity.
A spiritual path is easier with an awakened teacher…
A path to awakening usually involves the help of an awakened teacher. Forging a relationship with a teacher is probably unlike any other relationship you may have experienced in your life. Although, you always want to present your best side to your teacher – your sweetest, most “spiritual” self – you know that your teacher sees completely through you. You feel transparent, with all of your bullshit and beauty exposed. Curiously, the resistance you feel to seeing yourself as you truly are may cause you to feel like you are being attacked.
My teacher presented me with insights about myself through words, gestures, and looks. Although I did not talk to my teacher very often, I always felt the connection. Despite my best intentions, I felt uncomfortable. Later, I learned that this discomfort was really the discomfort I felt with myself, and the experience of being more aware of what I was really doing. I was not just experiencing my words and actions. I was also beginning to become aware of my intentions. In many cases, this discomfort felt like burning.
My teacher gradually listened to less and less of my bullshit and often gave me uncomfortable insights about my bullshit. Intellectually, I knew that my teacher was helping me, but I resisted the help because I thought I was my bullshit.
Even those who have been on the path for a long time often question their resolve when the spiritual heat is on: “I don’t need this shit.”, “What does this teacher know anyway.”, “I am sick of feeling like crap about myself.” Many abandon the path even after years of working diligently. It is difficult to not take things personally, but it is necessary – if you want to come out on the other side of this process….
This cycle of confrontation, burning, and coming through on the other side happened over and over and over….Coming back, over and over, is key and depends on your own intention and the level of your preparation to embrace all that you are – before you can let it go….