Some of us are naturally inclined to develop our spirituality.
Perhaps we’ve always had questions about how best to live, about the mystery of birth and death, about the way to inner peace and wisdom. Our rational mind, good for many things, is not able to answer these larger questions; and so we become seekers on a search for answers.
For others, a life-changing crisis motivates one to go on a spiritual search. A loss, transition, or illness suddenly disrupts our life and compels us to find a meaning for our suffering and a new purpose in living. But probably for the majority of us, the motivation to search spiritually sneaks up on us during the course of living our habitual, day-in, day-out life. We don’t know why, but we begin to ask questions we never bothered with before.
- What is the point of living the way I do?
- Why should I keep on repeating my life the way it is now?
- Am I settling for a life that’s too safe?
- Am I wasting my time?
- Is this it?
- What am I looking for?
- What’s missing?
- Isn’t there more?
These questions generate feelings of restlessness, confusion, indecision: even the simple things seem complicated. We may start to fantasize that the only answer is to change our life – get divorced, get a new job, move to another part of the country or even to another culture. Drugs and/or alcohol can start to become important to us to provide relief by dulling our mind.
In some cases, the internal stress of our confused struggle can produce physical symptoms, such as nervous tension, insomnia and various other troubles (digestive, circulatory, hormonal), and the first person we go to for help is our medical doctor. The doctor will hopefully be successful in alleviating our stress symptoms, but the core of the struggle is still within us.
We may intuit that something new needs to happen to us, but we don’t know what it is. We become motivated to go on a quest, a search, a journey, in order to find this newness of renewal. The ancient wisdom, however, is that this newness has to happen inside us; our habitual personality self has to cross the bridge to the universal, to experience meaning and the feeling of renewal that we are searching for.
In my next post, I will describe ways to cross the bridge.