I believe that spiritual growth under the right conditions is as natural as breathing…and the conditions of our world are the perfect conditions for spiritual growth. The person you are right now, with all of your challenges and strengths, pain and joys, failures and victories, is exactly the perfect person for the journey ahead. And your life, exactly as it is, is offering you the exact conditions to stimulate growth.
My intention for this essay is to share with you why I believe that existence is an unending emergence of pure love, a perfect and continuous homecoming, in spite of and in a sense because of, all the tragedy, pain and the unnecessary suffering that is endured by so many of us. I would start by asserting that the degree to which we recognize that suffering is unnecessary is evidence that somewhere we already know that love is the ground of existence.
This universe was born out of love and our desire for spiritual fulfillment is an expression of that love, an extension of that love, and the fulfillment of that love. Human life is challenging. We find ourselves caught in the middle between the Reality of Love and the actuality of suffering. I feel certain that suffering is actual, but not real. Only Love is Real.
What is Love? Love is what we feel when we recognize something that is worth devoting our life to. The things we love are the things that make life worth living. They allow us to feel at home in the world and relax deeply and completely into the experience of being.
We wake up in a world that often feels harsh and alien to us. It is unpredictable and beyond our control. We experience pain and suffering and we learn to protect ourselves from the perceived dangers that surround us. Some of us experience tremendous hardship, others have a relatively easier time, but no one is completely unscathed by the challenges of existence. We are all wounded and in need of healing.
Because we have been hurt we conclude at a deep and unconscious level that we do not belong here. The beginning of our spiritual search is an attempt to discover where we truly belong. We imagine that we are lost and we feel compelled to find our way home. We have fallen out of love and long to rediscover the love that we know is our true home.
Our early seeking is a series of attempts, often meandering and haphazard, to find our way home. We try practices, workshops, methods, communities, and teachers. Each time we wonder if this is it. Is this where I belong? Is this my home?
We feel certain that we will know we are home when we fall in love. The experience of falling in love is the experience of realizing that this is it. It is the feeling we have when we realize we have come home. On our journey home we may fall in love for a time only to realize that this is not it, and we move on to try again. Luckily, our efforts, if we are sincere and resolute, will be rewarded with periodic awakenings that light the way.
Spiritual Awakening is the ultimate homecoming. It is the discovery of a home that you can never leave and the realization that you have never been anywhere but home all along. This human life – with all of its hardships and joys, victories and defeats, pains and pleasures – is home. We are already home. This is it and always has been.
The experience of life has left us with inner wounds of separation – habits of retraction, recoil, and isolation, that leave us trapped in a severely limited sense of self. Somewhere deep inside we realize that this sense of limitation is unreal and we long to find our way back to reality.
In moments of profound mystical opening our awareness is temporarily released from the distorted perceptions of contraction. In these moments we suddenly and unexpectedly find ourselves home. We land in a place so perfect that we have no desire to be anywhere else. We are home in the most profound way imaginable. When these miraculous episodes fade and we find ourselves back in our limited and contracted self we feel heartbroken.
If we are not careful we will mistakenly reassert the illusion of being lost. Because the experience of contraction has returned we are tempted to assume that we are no longer home. In our alarm we may embark on a quest to recapture what we imagine we have lost. We restart our spiritual quest forgetting that we have already discovered that this is it. If, on the other hand, we have the fortitude to remember that we have already arrived, the true spiritual journey can begin.
The true spiritual journey is not the journey that takes us home. In fact it is not our journey at all. It is the expansion of the only true home there is – consciousness. The true journey is the evolution of consciousness. The fact that consciousness evolves does not mean that we have not already arrived. Consciousness is never less than complete. It is always a full expression of the experience that is currently available to be had even though it is also not the limit of what is possible.
Can we hold our current reality as perfect at the same time that we recognize that it will be more? Can we live in total fullness that is destined to become more full? The spiritual life requires us to embrace an unconditional wholeness that relentlessly continues to grow.
The experience of being a human who experiences contractedness caused by past pain and suffering, who has occasional moments of tremendous release and relief, and may even experience periodic illuminations of spirit, is the human experience. It is whole and complete, beautiful and miraculous exactly as it is. Life is in need of nothing more. At the same time we are invited to a journey of ascension in which the human experience will expand beyond its current form into the unknown wholeness of tomorrow, and perhaps ultimately even beyond the experience of being human.
Initially our spiritual practice is taken up in service of our personal journey home. When we discover that we were always already home a new journey begins that places our practice at the service of something much bigger than our limited selves.
We might do a sitting practice like meditation, a vocal practice like chanting or singing, a movement practice like dance or yoga. The form our practice takes is not as important as what the practice is in service of. In order for our energy to be available for the larger journey our practice must be anchored in an unshakable conviction that we are already home.
Spiritual practice becomes potent when we are so thoroughly convinced that there is nowhere else to go other than here. Only then are we able to unconditionally let go. When we deeply relax all of our conscious and unconscious attempts to protect ourselves and manipulate the world something glorious happens. The contractions that have accumulated over a lifetime naturally and effortlessly begin to release.
We will feel this physically, emotionally and cognitively. We might feel pain in our body as tightness dissolves and passes away. We may go through emotional upheavals of joy, sorrow, fear, or bliss, as emotions that have been repressed bubble to the surface. And as our minds become free of limiting beliefs we will experience profound insight that will reveal the secrets of the universe.
We do not need to control this journey. The only effort we need to make is whatever it takes to remember that we are already home, and resist the temptation to try to control the unfolding that has begun. We will be guided through physical healings, emotional releases, and mystical revelations in exactly the form that is required for our growth. Can you imagine being loved any more fully?
As we allow the larger spiritual journey to unfold it will become clear that the effort we made to find our way home was what got us to the starting point of the true spiritual odyssey. It is like walking from the back car of a train to the front car only to realize that the real journey includes the whole train. We are not on an individual journey, the entire human race is on a journey, and ultimately consciousness itself is evolving.
Our personal journey ends when we realize that we are already home. Then we have the opportunity to participate in the magnificent journey of conscious evolution. The contractions that release in our being are not just ours, they are contractions in consciousness itself and as we all release the binds that tie us new possibilities for life reveal themselves. Then we have the opportunity to live into these possibilities and recreate the world.
As we learn to allow the larger journey of spirit to unfold through us we discover what we are here for. We are not here to suffer and contract. We are the medium within which a natural process of growth takes place. That process will release constraints and unleash our true potential as part of the larger liberation of consciousness.
We have no way to imagine where the larger journey of consciousness will take us, but that journey of existence is our journey nonetheless. When we let go of any attempt to be anywhere other than here, all of our energy is available to do the invisible work of conscious evolution. This is an endeavor worthy of devoting our life to. This is the journey we were born for.