What is the purpose of spirituality?
I think it’s important to always know why you are doing something, because why you do something influences how you do something, and how you do something is how you live.
Spirituality is a very trendy topic these days, and everyone is doing it for different reasons. So, ask yourself, why do you crave it? What is the inspiration for you to sit, close your eyes, and meditate?
Do you do it because it will bring you peace and a stress free life?
Do you do it because it will make you a happier person?
Do you do it to connect with your intuition?
(Note: I receive so many e-mails from people wishing to get in touch with their intuition, and why is that? Why is the concept of foresight so appealing? I believe this is because we believe that if we are blessed with a strong intuition and foresight, we can make better decisions in our life, and live a little bit more smoothly.)
Do you do it for a sense of meaning and purpose in life?
Do you do it to become enlightened, whatever that may mean to you?
Which is best?
I see it like this; Enlightenment is the beautiful flower that blossoms from the plant that you are growing.
The other benefits of spiritual practice; peace, clarity, intuition, joyfulness, meaning and purpose – these are the big leafy aspects of the plant that you are growing. They are natural side effects. They will happen anyway, as long as you keep watering and giving your plant the sunlight it needs.
Spiritual processes Vs Social processes
This is an important distinction to make.
I used to think that my journey to becoming a better person, to be more loving, kind, patient, understanding, confident, effective, joyful, peaceful was spirituality.
Well, becoming those things isn’t specifically a spiritual process (though they are side effects of the spiritual process). You see, that is largely a social process and it is not an unimportant one. It’s how well we function in this big bright world. It’s one that I still strive for and work towards every day of my life.
Because it’s just common sense. It makes my life run well, it makes me a more effective human being, it smoothens out my relationships, it opens me up to boundless joy. What is not to love about that?!
Then, what exactly is a spiritual process? This is something I have only recently come to feel and experience in my practice.
A spiritual process, is not about psychological aspects or physical aspects of your life. It’s a process that is concerned with your life energy within you and how you use that, what kind of growth and process you funnel that energy into. It’s a fundamental aspect of our existence that we so often forget about, because we can’t see it or touch it.
So keeping this in mind, keep both your social and spiritual processes open and growing side by side. The social process moves upwards and forwards. The spiritual process moves inwards. They are totally different dimensions of being.
So, what do you need?
1. A Burning Question
You need a burning question about your existence. About life About the life that is within you. About what you need to do with all this life that is within you.
It needs to burn.
You need a burning desire for enlightenment. A burning desire to know more.
It needs to feel absolutely urgent and intense. This is the energy that will drive you and push you inside yourself.
What does it mean to burn? It means that the unanswered question must bother you. Only if that is there, will you have the strength to overcome any obstacles and limitations in your path to the answer.
You have to want it 100%. You have to be ready to transform your entire life into it. It’s not a 50% thing. If it’s a 50% thing, you are wasting your time and it will take lifetimes to get there.
A burning desire means taking lifetimes to get somewhere is not okay with you.
Now, when I say that you have to be ready to transform your entire life into it – I don’t necessarily mean that you have to be willing to give up everything and run to a cave in the himalayas or be a crazy person who is constantly asserting yourself onto others. No, such change is not necessary. By transforming your life, I mean you have to be ready to change completely how you are on the inside. It means dedicating your life energy to your spiritual process.
But….What if I don’t have a burning question? 😦
Do you want a burning question? Do you crave to have your burning question? Good! At least something is burning inside you. Keep doing your sadhana, the question, the desire will come.
A common problem is that we never spend long enough on one thing. We begin with a certain type of meditation practice that we believe is a powerful tool for us, and we do it with dedication for a month or maybe even 6 months.
Then a friend tells us about a new special kind of visualization technique that if we do every day, is far more powerful. So we start that and do it for a couple of months. But then we find it boring and get tired of it.
So then we decide meditation is not really for us, and we spend a year “not meditating”.
Until one day, we watch a video or read a blog about a special kind of meditation with chanting that will take us to where we want to be, so we try that instead for a few months.
This goes on and on. We keep starting and stopping. We keep starting and then changing direction, thinking that each new thing we do is better, more powerful, will work faster.
All rivers lead to the ocean, but if we keep abandoning one river for another, we might never get to the ocean.
What we need is consistency. We need to keep going in the same direction for some time for us to see any changes within us. We shouldn’t abandon things so easily. We shouldn’t take 1 step forward and then 2 steps backwards.
Just like we brush our teeth daily in the same way, and we don’t change to a new way of brushing our teeth every month, so should our sadhana be.
Of course, add to your sadhana if you wish, just as we might decide to use mouthwash after we finish brushing our teeth, but try to avoid changing direction completely.
It’s time to get off Autopilot
Right now, the way we live is that we have a few moments in our life of intensity, joy and fulfillment. These scarce moments are scattered here and there. And everything in between, the weeks, months, years even, are all on autopilot.
A burning desire coupled with consistency will take you off autopilot.
This post is already quite long, so I will wait for tomorrow to post the rest.
Tomorrow, let’s talk about the tools that are available to us on the spiritual path, and how we can deepen our spiritual practice and get somewhere with it.