This short article is likely to be read by those already on a journey. You may have just started the journey or been living it for a very long time. The “spiritual path” promises a lot – for example some people are searching for “the kingdom of heaven”, others for “enlightenment”. One thing for sure is that being on this journey takes courage – at times we can seem utterly blind or ignorant and leave ourselves confused, open and vulnerable. Recognising this, you do not have to accept what is written in this article – however, hopefully you are able to read with an open mind.
My personal spiritual journey started when I started working with a life coach. I then found the personal development and spirituality sections of the book store and I was hooked. Something clicked, and I have had the chance to listen to many influential speakers and explore many books relating to spirituality. I feel that I am on a spiritual path, but sometimes still get confused listening to others and find it hard to communicate what it really means.
So what does it mean to be spiritual?
I have come across many people referring to spirituality and the spiritual path. Here are some of the more common things I have seen described as spirituality:
“Finding Meaning”, “Love and Gratitude”, “Channeling and talking with Spirit/beyond”, “Being Here and Now”, “Dissolving the Ego”, “Eternal Life”, “A celebration of Life”, “Finding God”, “A journey into Self-Realisation” or “Yoga and meditation”. It could be said that the spiritual path is all of the above, yet none of them. This is the most difficult part – those who talk about spirituality can be contradictory and paradoxical. The reason why the spiritual path can be described as none of them is because they are concepts of the mind which themselves cannot be “real”. In fact, the so-called enlightened masters tell us that anything of the mind cannot be real. Therefore, the above statements can only be signposts to something beyond – something deeper and more profound than how most of us think of ourselves. The spiritual path seems to start in a world of confusion, endless distractions and deep pain. However, in my experience, knowing you are on a spiritual path – no matter where you are – gives you a certain feeling, a deep sense of trust, a sense that you are being looked after, a sense that everything really is ok.
In practice, spirituality is a very personal thing – how can anyone else really give you the truth, when it is yourself you are searching for! This is now how I like to think of spirituality – a search for your true self. The enlightened masters say that once you have found your true self, all the mystery will be revealed.
OSHO was born in India and is celebrated as an enlightened master (he passed away in 1990). He said that enlightenment was something that can happen only when we are in a place of “no mind” or living through your being. He indicates that meditation is key because meditation takes us to a place of no mind, or a state of pure being. OSHO’s teachings are profound. His teachings imply that anything which strengthens identification with the mind is the opposite of the spiritual path. For this reason, learning scriptures and intellectualizing anything takes us away from the path. It also can help us to understand why yoga and meditation are spiritual practices – they help to quieten the chattering mind and move us into our being.
Everyone has their own path to walk and this is why we must listen to and become more aware of ourselves. What matters is that we take responsibility for ourselves and work at becoming aware of the feelings that emerge from our “spiritual practices”. These will tell us whether we are on the right path for us.