Those on the path of spiritual growth are often in a hurry to achieve a fully conscious state as soon as possible. This is an interesting thing to look at because at face value, it looks quite like that should be the standard. Let’s take a closer look.
First, we need to ask, who is in a hurry? Obviously, it’s the ego. The Eternal Self is already there in abiding, it has no schedule agenda. So the very thing we are trying to make transparent is in a struggle to achieve a goal, thereby re-establishing itself right back in the driver’s seat. The ego is very guile and full of paradoxical methods to hide in plain sight. It cannot be underestimated. As spirituality rises globally, we see more and more cases of teachers who are actually in an egoic identity with their own spiritual achievements. The litmus test is the level of humility and equanimity with Creation.
Second, we need to recognize the role of karma in spiritual development. Seemingly some come into this world just ready to pop, and others are decade-long practitioners of meditation or other practices with no signs of an emergence except perhaps an elevated level of emotional intelligence and mental stability. As the ancient texts proclaim, the merits of past life spiritual efforts set the stage for the current life’s growth.
Third, we should acknowledge the role of foundational work. Those who have a regular yoga or meditation or devotional practice or have undergone psychological therapy and worked out their traumas, or are at ease with their bodies, or at peace with their own feelings… those people have already paved a path for energy flows that are less likely to be blocked.
Fourth, and quite an important point, is that going faster means bearing more. Spiritual growth is not a picnic – by the very fact that we are on this planet means we have things to work out. This is earth school. Working out karmic impressions, going through traumatic experiences, suffering physical and emotional pain… these are all milestones along the way which are balancing out inner energies. Suffering is a kind of purification at the energetic level. Knowing that, we can see our lives as choices – do we want to expedite spiritual practices which will surface our inner issues quicker? This means we will face naturally balancing forces faster, or to say it in everyday terms, we will suffer more over a shorter period. Or do we prefer to face suffering at a tempered pace, which then means we nurture spiritual growth with a more regular cadence. That is why a Guru will work directly with disciples to navigate them through this, and in many spiritual biographies we do see a fierce cleansing happening. Again, obviously this karmic purification has many variables, but our chosen spiritual pace is one of them.
Fifth comes an often-overlooked aspect of spiritual maturity. In so many cases, people have mystical experiences and they think they have arrived. All one has to do is to look at the infinite nature of reality to realize that one really never arrives – there is always a deeper realm of realization. Mystical experiences are mere milestones – on a road trip one does not camp out at a road sign indefinitely – it’s just a marker, not the destination. In spiritual growth, many mistake markers along the journey as the destination, again another egoic trick.
In the end, what matters is truly being present. Everything else is a projection of the mind, including any judgements about our own or another’s spiritual maturity.
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