What is the goal of the spiritual journey? The most obvious answer would be that we are trying to become “spiritual.” But what if we have it all wrong? What if we are already “spiritual” but do not yet realize it?
Many people would contrast becoming “spiritual” with being ordinary or worldly. Spirituality, however, does not refer to a separate dimension of life. There is only life, one reality, the universe as it is, all “charged with the grandeur of God” (Hopkins). The point of spirituality is to come to the felt realization that all is the realm of divinity, that we are, indeed, “standing on Holy Ground.”
In looking for the spiritual amidst the so-called secular, we are like the fish who was swimming in the ocean, looking lost. Another fish saw him going in circles and asked him what he was looking for. The fish replied, “I am looking for the ocean.” The helpful fish said “You are swimming in it!”
All of the great saints, sages and avatars have tried to tell us the same thing: there is no place that God is not. We only need to awaken to what is the true state of things. We do not need to go anywhere or do anything special.
The Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu puts it this way: “Before I became enlightened, I used to be a woodchopper. Then I saw the light and became a person of prayer. Then I saw even more light. Now I chop wood again.”
These same enlightened beings have also told us, however, each in their own way, that there is a “price” to be paid for this new vision. We literally need to “die” to the old vision of whom we thought we were. There appears to be no way around this . Before we can wake up to the reality that we are born to be an oak tree, we need to “die” to our acorn-ness. Before we can fly with the freedom of the butterfly, we need to die to being a caterpillar.
This blog can never be accused of skirting around this key step on our path of awakening. However, this particular posting is to remind us that are ultimately called to a glorious life where we can “soar with eagle’s wings.”
The goal of our journey, call it Christ- Consciousness, Buddha Awareness, or one hundred other “names of God”, connects us to the radiance of all that is. This Reality can be found in the city or in church, while making salad or making love, while praying, painting, playing or prophesizing.
As the poet T. S. Eliot put it, “And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time.”
The journey, then, is not really a journey at all. Like the fish looking for the ocean, we only have to “see” what is always and forever around us already.
Next posting: The Role of Service
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