Rumi once said, “Your heart knows the way. Run in that direction.”
It can be said that the delusions and occupation of the modern fast-paced world have brought us far from our spiritual selves, but have they now? As we turn over the leaves of history, we come to a realization that the path of spirituality has never been the way of the masses.
It is perhaps the idolization of the spiritual persons of the past, whose lifelong adventures are so accessible to us now that inspire admiration. You just don’t go over a quotation by Rumi or Buddha without having a reliving smile on your face. “How does he do that?!”
The theme of our days is turning over a new leaf, letting the grief and emptiness of the past be the past, and starting over every day. It does not take an exceptionally wise man to see how that only leaves unfinished chapters building up a void in your heart that you come across from time to time.
Biting loneliness, shallow relationships, and a blurred sight of where you want to be in life are then what ignites our interest in spirituality.
What Spirituality In Its Essence Is?
No word can better explain the true meaning of spirituality than enlightenment, what that enlightenment is about is then a highly varying subject.
You may come across many sources stating how spirituality helps you achieve your goals in life, yadda yadda, but that I think is where most people confuse spirituality with meditation.
Meditation and mindfulness are powerful tools to get to in the driving seat of your brain, it helps build your concentration and ability to control the thoughts that diverts your attention, reduce depression and anxiety, and calms you as you can go through the day as you want to.
Whereas spirituality is a journey that has no defined endings or beginnings. Some spiritual personalities call it a journey that begins the moment you were born and ends only when you lay at eternal rest.
The roots of spirituality can be found deep within the sacred texts of religions, so it can be said it is the submission of will. What makes so eager to pursue the path of spirituality is not to become one with the divine self but to get one-up on the society.
It all just turns into a big game of my meditation practice is better than yours and I’m at more peace than the guy sitting next to me on the subway, which is why we never truly can experience spirituality.
A higher virtue has no intention of being a virtue and thus, is a virtue. An inferior virtue has all the intentions of being a virtue and thus, is not a virtue.
Going On A Spiritual Journey
There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled. There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled. You feel it, don’t you?
Everyone feels that they’re a part of something bigger than themselves in life at some point, it is an itch that you cannot scratch. Spirituality is going deep into yourself to find the words that you want to speak.
They can be answers to the questions you already have or questions stemming out of questions, either way, it expands your horizons. Why I mentioned the confusion of spirituality with meditation is because that only achieves one part of the process, the mind, whereas spirituality is about the heart.
Breaking it down, we can sum up a spiritual journey in three phases. The phase of acknowledge ego as you and not another version of you, the decent into past horrors and fears, and the ascent into the spiritual realm.
We often think of our ego as a separate self subconsciously, how something hurts your ego, and so on. Building character is the very first step that gets you started on your spiritual journey.
We take in many things, good and bad, growing up as kids and teenagers. By the time we reach our adulthood, our characters and personality development comes at a stop as we lose ourselves in the vicious circles of the 9 to 5 routine.
Whenever they rebuild an old building, they must, first of all, destroy the old one. – Rumi
Accepting the fact that we are constantly evolving and taking in new things brings about a sense of calm in our lives since it happens anyway, not acknowledging leads to denial and many other related problems.
Being able to love freely, express creativity, and not being afraid of being vulnerable because of showing empathy to someone are traits developed in the physical world by changing your habits.
This is the phase where meditation and mindfulness prove to be tools of great help. Leaping over to this point directly wouldn’t do much good as you cannot completely inculcate your learning into your life.
It requires the submission of ego, or ego-death (as the psychedelic substance users prefer to call it). Going through the sacred texts of different religions, you will see how religions despise this the most.
That is because this is where all the demons and our darkest fears lie, ever thought about why the church had been so bent on preaching about the hell being below the earth for over 1600 years?
The descent is where you open the incomplete chapters from your past, understanding yourself before you can reach out to something bigger than you.
Childhood traumas, life tragedies, and succumbing failures are not easy to come at peace with and requires dedication and persistence, but there is no inner peace without them either.
Going through your life and accepting what has happened to you for what it is, opens your mind to understand how it didn’t happen to you, it just happened. And that is what mindfulness in its essence is, only to observe, accept, and do nothing.
The ascent is what is most tempting about spirituality and the reason why many are inspired to go on the journey in the first place. Ascending into the spiritual realm of self-realization, or the state of nirvana requires a perfect harmony between your ego and your soul.
Nirvana is commonly associated with nothingness in Zen Buddhism. Becoming one with the divine self, knowing you are part of everything and everything is a part of you is a life long journey.
Coming at peace with the fact that you are the universe having a human experience, and everything is exactly like it is supposed to be.
You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop. -Rumi
This is where you become complete but the journey goes on as hiking through beautiful valleys and not trying to trekking to the top.
Psychedelics are also used by many to jump directly over this state of feeling connected with the universe but arriving at this state with lingering traumas and self-esteem issues only leaves a person in paradoxical oblivion.
Steps For A Spiritual Journey
Going on a spiritual journey is different for every one of us, we all have our own expectations and battles to fight.
A spiritual journey goes on without end, it is an ever-evolving transformation of the self and learning new experiences. Being intimidated by the experiences greater than you have known can often lead to a person going round and round in spirals and winding up deeper and deeper into oblivion.
Though the guidelines for a spiritual journey cannot be given as they are what you learn for yourself, there are, however, tools that can help you remember what you’re in it for.
As a person who has long been enthralled by spirituality, here is what I think might help you out on your spiritual journey.
Have A Purpose
Think about why you want to go on a spiritual journey and once you do, picture it as clearly as you can. Having a purpose is not the ultimate end of it but a milestone that you keep on passing through your journey.
Is it something from the past that you want to deal with? Is it an addiction or trauma you’re trying to get rid of? Or is it something you want to find?
Any purpose for going on a spiritual journey is the right purpose as long as it something that helps you understand yourself better. Also, notice that the purpose has to be about who you are and not a material something.
Get Into The Philosophy Of It
You always have to remember that whatever it is that you are seeking out of your spiritual journey has come from within you. Having a clear purpose in your mind gets you started so just observe what is thrown at you along the way.
Going into the lifelong works of spiritual persons or philosophers will have a myriad of ways that you can use to go on your own journey.
Explore how others have been able to find their meaning in life and see how it applies to your situation. Keeping your journey interesting with things that intrigue and question your belief will make it a lot easier.
Exploring your options, in the beginning, is an amazing way to keep you engaged in your journey and helps you understand what you should be expecting along the way.
As I mentioned earlier that spirituality loses its meaning as soon as you associate materialism with it, you have to let go of the “turning over a new leaf” concept.
Once you’ve gone through enough philosophies and material about the spiritual journey, it is then time to latch on to the one that suits you the most. Bear with the troughs along the way and you live through the crests as well.
Jumping over from one stone to another will not allow you to commit completely to something and will have you going in circles. Let go of the fear of going down the wrong path as there is no right and wrong way, it is all about experiences and learning.
If still you don’t feel progress through a certain method and feel the need to adopt a different path then do so, there are no limitations or hard and fast rules.
Noting down your progress does sound a bit cliché, but it really is of great importance on your spiritual journey. The classic practice of keeping a journal and feeding your new experiences into it as you have them will have something for you to look back at.
The mystical ideas, fancy thoughts, and mindful realization can sometimes fade away into memory as newer and captivating experiences fog your mind.
Writing down your thoughts in the fanciest words you can imagine is unnecessary, you can only write what helps you look back at your journey and understand the distance you’ve come.
As you go deep in your spiritual journey, you will realize that finding the answers you have sought for so long are easier to find than they seemed.
Finding your purpose and even the reason to battle addiction or traumas are again, only half the way into the spiritual journey.
You complete your spiritual journey by embracing what you learn and embodying it into your life as you go on. Be the living example of your thoughts and understandings, and hold no restraints on yourself in being the person that you are meant to be.
A spiritual journey is to be felt by your heart and embrace whatever you face on the path of self-discovery.
Frequently Asked Questions…
Where Can I Go On A Spiritual Journey?
A spiritual journey is a journey of exploring self and anything outside of it. No place will help you find who you are, overcome your troubles, and reach the state of nirvana.
You can, however, choose to go to monasteries, religious places, and other meditation centers that inspire you to look inside.
For centuries the masses have been gathering religious holy sites and meditational centers pursuing faith and belief, these places will not enchant you achieve your goals but may push you in the right direction.
How Long Is A Spiritual Journey?
A spiritual journey is timeless. That is not to say it takes forever, for some it happens as quickly as in an instant while others pursue it their entire lives.
Putting a limit of time on a spiritual journey ties material needs to it and thus, it may eventually become impossible for you to receive the true enlightenment.
For those who the spiritual enlightenment happens in an instant, they too spend years after that trying to integrate that into their lives, a spiritual journey eventually goes on as long as we live.
Why Is A Spiritual Journey Painful?
Going on a spiritual journey proves to be painful because of letting go of all our beliefs and thought patterns developed through life.
Our perception of the self, the ego, gets shattered as the journey unwinds and you come to realize there has been no ego, it has all been just you. It is commonly known as the “Ego Death” among many psychedelic substance users.
Once you start unwinding the energies trapped within your spiritual self (the soul), it is only natural to be baffled by getting hit by something that has been on the backseat all your life.
Which Country Is The Most Spiritual?
As soon as you hear spiritual and country in the sentence, one imagines it to be some country in south Asian, but it is Canada.
Canada has been ranked as the most spiritual country because of the acceptance of people from any religion, caste, or creed.
The spirituality of a country is ranked by religious tolerance, diversity of belief, quality of life, and the freedom of citizens.
What Are The Signs Of Spiritual Awareness?
The most prominent sign of spiritual awareness is an enhanced feeling of inner peace. You feel drawn closer to nature and far from the negativity in the people around you.
You start valuing all life as equal and avert the thoughts of judgment as you are drawn closer to the belief and working of Karma.
Other subtle signs of having attained spiritual awareness are shedding the weight of pasts and anxiety for the future and starting to live more in the present moment.
Finding your purpose in life is independent of anything material that you know. Everyone is equally special and part of something as beautiful as another, finding our place in this chaotic life is the only way we can fill the voids in our hearts.
There are many well documented spiritual people throughout history that you can look up to for guidance. But a hint to my own inspiration is Alan Watts, who takes philosophy and spirituality, combines them in a way that inspires. His journey has also been a long one, from a Catholic raised to Hinduism and Zen Buddhism.
Note: Looking up to other great minds is only as good as you learn to inspire your curiosity for you can never go down the same path and expect something different out for yourself. Our journey is our own, and we are the masters of how it turns out to be.