The Spiritual Path Looks Like You
What does the spiritual path look like? It looks like you. Whatever you’re doing – it looks like you doing Bikram Yoga in the evening, or joining a 12-step group, or learning kickboxing. It looks like you taking care of your kids instead of going to the meditation retreat. It looks like you trying something new, falling on your face, and getting up to try again.
Let’s get one thing clear: there is no spiritual path. Whoever is telling you their way is the way to go doesn’t live your life. You are going to have to carve your way, make your own decisions and support yourself. The flower growing has the sun to encourage it and the rain and worms for nourishment. That’s it. Were you expecting the flower to have a guru? What kind of advice do you think the flower needed?
And can we talk about that advice? Every teacher I’ve ever talked to, every scripture and ecstatic poem says, “You will not find enlightenment through austerity, penance, postures or rituals.” Yet every single one of them did it: Buddha, Christ, Amma, Shivabalayogi. You name the spiritual teacher, and I will show you that they went through hardship and austerities and practiced ritual. That is the spiritual path!
Would Buddha have understood his teachings without his eight years of austerity, Yoga and deprivation? Would that bowl of rice pudding given by the village girl have had such a profound effect, if he hadn’t been eating one kernel of rice per day for the last I-don’t-know-how-many months? I can’t say for sure, I only know there was a sequence leading up to his epiphany. And one thing followed the other.
Don’t be mistaken. You are doing it. If you are taking one step and then the next, with the intention of expanding, you are doing it. Can we celebrate you for a moment?
Celebrate Your Spiritual Path
If you are doing deprivation, I embrace you. If you are making your diet non-dairy, non-gluten, non-animal products or whatever, go for it. It will focus your energy. It will fine-tune what you decide to put in your body. If you are practicing silence one morning a week (I think Jayadeva does Friday mornings), make it so. It will show you how much energy you lose in unnecessary chatter. The things you do say after that practice of silence will carry weight and credibility.
If you are doing hard work, I embrace you. If you are obsessed with going to Yoga class every day and mastering the next arm balance, go for it. If you have too much to do, and are still going to volunteer at the soup kitchen, I salute you. If you are over-exercising, running a marathon, passionate about Pilates, creating a business, meeting a deadline or organizing a benefit charity, may it be blessed. Does the world need your perfected arm balance? Do we really need another DVD to watch, CD to listen to, or benefit concert to attend? No, and yes. You absolutely should do it.
What you do is vitally important to who you become. It is not the results (the products, businesses, money, success or failure) that matters, it is who you became while making them. That’s what we need from you! That experience, knowing that you can create something meaningful, knowing your hard work can follow an intention of love and create good for you and your community. Do the arm balance. Make it happen. Your will gets stronger every time you take on the impossible.
If you are practicing endless hours of ritual, I embrace you. If you are meditating each day, or traveling to a Summer Solstice gathering, silent retreat, outward bound, or the annual camping trip, I salute you. If you think meditation is the end-all, your fire ceremony is the sacred sequence, your dogma is superior, your ten commandments or Yoga sutras or four noble truths are the crystalline edge of wisdom, I celebrate your discovery. It will lead to your personal experience of truth.
This morning as I left the meditation hut on the farm, I saw a rainbow. It was raining and sun-shining at the same time: Two diverging roads in a yellow wood; two opposing paths happening at the same moment.
Do we need to decide which is more desirable (rain or shine)? No. They can overlap; it’s all good. The next time you seem to be going in two different directions at once, or putting two traditions together that don’t seem to match, be an energetic rainbow and create a new paradigm. God knows we need a new paradigm.
Love Grows Like a Flower
Love: it grows like a flower through the cracks in the pavement. Nothing can stop the pure source energy of love. Your doubts are no match for pure mantra. Your anger is just a drop in the bucket. There is no way to avoid the cleansing that happens now, no way to hide from the planetary movements which force all of our personal growth.
Everything you are doing right now is an opportunity to come to a different conclusion about how you thought it all was. Your involvement with a person, business or group is all about reworking your beliefs about yourself and the world you live in. Through doing it, you will have the opportunity to come to a different conclusion about who you thought they were and who you thought you were. Every personal victory changes the face of the planet.
What Growth Looks Like
Growth looks like you figuring it out and making changes as you go along. Trying this and that. Experimenting. Evaluating. The path is, and you’re on it. If you’re obsessed with cleaning your basement, I salute you. You will clean out all the subconscious beliefs you’ve been holding. If you are doing too much, overextended and overworked, I salute you. You will accomplish more this year than you ever thought possible. Whatever you are doing, be true to it. Do it and watch what happens to you as a result. Something will happen, I assure you.
Be like the farmer. If you see that doing a certain something makes your plant grow crooked, try something a little different to go the other way. If you are leaning towards the sun, celebrate! I think you’re probably onto something good. Forecast ahead: rain!
May your days be joyous, may the path rise to meet you, may the wind be at your back. May all beings be happy.
Wah! has been making music for the yoga world for 25 years and published books on yoga and healing. Wah! teaches women’s leadership training, sound healing workshops, yoga teacher training, and performs Healing Concerts in planetariums and theaters across the country.