How Do We Start Our Spiritual Journey?
The joy of sorrow.
Now and again, we have to go back to the beginning. What’s it all about?
For some reason, we are attracted to a spiritual tradition. We may feel unfulfilled, or we may be interested in the philosophy, or we may want good company.
Joining a spiritual tradition doesn’t mean we have started our spiritual journey: we have joined a system that may lead to our spiritual journey.
Learning to do practices does not mean we are spiritual practitioners: we are learning a system. We are assuming a posture – an attitude – and that’s all.
We start our spiritual journey when we recognise that our outer life has no satisfaction, and that life is suffering for all. We feel this in our heart and not just as philosophical speculation, and so we genuinely care for what is in front of us.
We may repeat words about the cause of suffering being a mistaken identification with an illusory self – which is a mental idea – but it is the actual uncomfortable experience of realising that we are holding on these ideas that shocks us into realising that this self has absolutely no reality. The emotions are key to this experience.
Our spiritual journey starts when we realise this secret: that everyone is enslaved by clinging to their emotions – even ‘spiritual’ people. This secret is hidden within everyone. This secret is pure, uncontaminated awareness; our absolute nature. The joy of realising this reality is surrounded by the sadness that others do not see this, yet. We realise the joy of sorrow when we meet someone facing their suffering and beginning their spiritual journey. The moment we have genuine, empathetic compassion for the causes of suffering and do not ignore this, we start our spiritual journey. It is no longer hearsay.
It doesn’t matter how uncomfortable a situation may be, we deal with whatever comes up because we understand and experience the causes of suffering. We are no longer covering this discomfort up with prattle.
Doing practices doesn’t mean thatwe understand; we are just doing practices. I’m sorry to say that the ‘spiritual’ people I have met cannot deal with being presented with the problems of others: they can only have compassion for those afar. They turn their backs on anyone who questions their system, as they have only reached the level of system.
We become spiritual practitioners when we experience suffering and the causes of suffering. This is what happened to Siddhartha Gautama, who became the enlightened one 2500 years ago.
Our spiritual journey starts when we listen.