The Goal of the Spiritual Path
One way to describe the goal of the spiritual path would be to say that it is to learn to love. To accomplish this, we all go through “steps” that include learning to love family, friends, pets, and acquaintances. We learn to love others even when they are not nice to us, and to love others when they are never nice to us. Eventually, what we are seeking is to be able to love all people and all situations. We are practicing to “be love”.
It’s easy to love when everything is going how we want it. Therefore, earth life presents us with challenging conditions, giving us the opportunity to choose either love (acceptance of what is) or desire (judging the condition and wanting to change it).
The conditions that we face are not real in the ultimate sense. Physical life can be thought of as a virtual reality in which people have lost sight of the fact that the environment is simulated. But life is designed this way on purpose. If we were completely aware of the simulation, there would be no challenge, and therefore no development.
There are moments in life when we are hurt emotionally. When we begin to fear future pain, this closes us down and makes it harder for us to love. The fear literally shuts down our hearts. We judge each situation as good or bad, based on how we think it will make us feel.
Vibration and Attraction
Many people think that life is a series of random events. But in spirituality, we are taught that everything that happens to us is created by our vibrations. Initially, it may seem that the opposite is true. I.e, we generally think that what happens to us affects our emotions, which in turn affects our vibrations.
However, the initial cause of the events in our life is due to our vibrations. Our vibrations in the present moment affect our future life events. Therefore, to change the outcome of our future, we need to pay attention to how we are feeling in the present moment.
Let’s look at this from a practical point of view. Let’s say that there are many things in your life that you are unhappy about. If you constantly desire to change these things, you are vibrating an energy of desire. This desire will in turn continue to bring to your life situations that you desire to change. In short, the vibration of your desire to change life will attract to you a life that you want to change.
The alternative is to view your life as a reflection of your vibrations. In other words, whenever there is something in your life that you wish was different, take a moment to feel yourself and the vibration that you are sending out. You may find anger, fear, frustration, etc. Reaffirm that this type of vibration does not serve you, and give an intention to let it go. Then fill yourself with love and gratitude for the life that you are creating for yourself. Realize that each moment you allow yourself to be filled with love and joy in the present, you are creating a future life of love and joy.
Dealing with Negative Emotions
When cultivating love, we want to ensure that we neither suppress negative emotions, nor become overcome by them. Since negative emotions do affect our vibration, we need to deal with them in a healthy manner. We do this by learning to love our negative emotions.
Initially, it may not seem possible to do such a thing. But in fact, this is exactly what is needed. If we learn to respond to our negative emotions with love, we will not suppress or judge them. We will accept them, and the love for them will keep our vibrations lifted.
The other thing we want to avoid is simply sitting with our negative emotions. If we do this, we will be sitting for a long time because the vibration of the negative emotions will continue to attract things that will cause more negative emotions. So what we can do is fill ourselves with love and gratitude for the presence of our negative emotions and the lessons that they provide. We can then give the intention to release them.
The Heart: a Fountain of Love
When we cultivate love, we aren’t actually “creating” love. Instead, we are opening ourselves up to allow love to flow through us. All emotions are always present, including love, hate, fear, etc. Whenever we feel an emotion, we are simply channeling that emotion through us.
To channel love, we open up our hearts. The heart can be visualized as a fountain that you can turn on or off. When you turn the heart on (open up the heart), love flows through it. This love will not only raise your vibration but have an effect on literally everyone else in the world, as we are all energetically connected. (Likewise when we open ourselves to hate and fear, the entire planet is similarly affected.)
When we live in hate and fear, our hearts are closed and we are unable to open up to love. Hate and fear are the product of judging situations and people. When Master Jesus talked about the need for people to become like little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, he was hinting at the need to recapture the innocence of youth. This innocence is non-judgmental and care-free.
Becoming Spiritual Children
When we were children, we were not bogged down with responsibilities and the need to feed and protect ourselves and our families. As adults, we tend to believe that we have all these responsibilities, but this is not really true.
Instead, the universe (our spiritual parents, you could say) are always there to provide for us. But when we become afraid, we start to doubt that we are taken care of. And our attempts to provide for ourselves interrupt the care that the universe will willingly provide us.
If we could learn to once again be the children of the universe and let ourselves be provided for, it would open us up to the lives that we have always wanted. The challenge is that we must learn to trust and accept the lives that we are living, and understand why we are in our current life situations. Just as little children accept that their parents will take care of them, we must learn to trust that God/life/the universe will take care of us.
Our past efforts to try to change our lives according to what we think we want in order to be happy has led to the situations we are currently in today. Further efforts to change life for the better will also be met with dissatisfaction, because our lives can only truly be changed via vibrations, and not self-will.
Another thing to understand is that these current situations – if accepted as they are – will lead us exactly to the lives that we long for. All we need to do is realize that it was our own past vibrations that created this current life. If we can realize how life is reflecting our internal “reality”, we can then decide to change our internal vibrations to match what we want to experience from life.
In other words, if we want a peaceful, happy and joyful life, we simply need to practice being peaceful, happy and joyful in the present. If we want a life of abundance, practice gratitude. It is simply a matter of trusting that this is the way that life truly works, and then developing ourselves to the point that our outer lives will reflect this change.
This is not to say that we should anticipate a life free from struggle. Instead, what we are doing is creating a reality in which we don’t get “tossed around” by our emotions and life circumstances. Instead, we can learn to appreciate all moments in our lives and the lessons that they are teaching us. We are setting ourselves free from the desire to want certain things and avoid others. And this freedom will lead us to inner peace.
Self-Will vs Divine Will
Learning to trust is not easy, as we do not like to be in painful situations, and we don’t like to feel like we aren’t in control. But the path of spirituality involves recognizing the wisdom and growth to be learned from these situations, and the love that is cultivated by learning to accept painful situations.
It is sometimes said in Buddhism that the object of life is to give up all desire. It might be more accurate to suggest that what we wish to do is to give up selfish desire. This is achieved by dropping all judgements about a situation.
Sometimes, spiritual teachers will talk about the need to release self-will and align with Divine will. But I think that these terms have led to some confusion. To clarify, what we want to do in life is release selfish will, based on personal judgements of what is right or wrong. In doing so, we can align with what might be called “harmonious will” or perhaps “synchronous will”. This synchronous will is not the will of some God sitting in heaven. Instead, it is the will that will allow humanity to live together in love and harmony. It is our collective will.