“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” ~ Pierre Tailhard de Chardin
The spiritual path is a twisty one, full of spirals and zig-zags that lead, bit by bit, toward closer communion with God. I was set on my own path, at least consciously, about three years ago, and in that time I’ve seen many amazing things, experienced true magic, and felt deep, ecstatic union with Divinity.
It’s been a wild ride, and one that often hasn’t been met with approval, much less understanding, by many people in my life.
Family and Faith
“We move in eternal regions, yet worry about property here.” ~ Rumi
For most of my life, I got the message that the way to happiness was through excelling at school, getting a great degree, beating other people out for that perfect job, then finding a husband and settling down. On the spiritual path, I’ve found the opposite message to be the one that gets the loudest airplay.
“Follow your bliss,” as the indomitable Jospeh Campbell says.
Except, what happens when you get to a point in your life — say, after you’ve got kids and a mortgage and a devoted partner — and discover your relationship with God? What if following your bliss means leaving all that? After all, countless spiritual leaders left behind loved ones (usually wives, curiously) and children, businesses and social structures, in order to pursue their path.
Siddhartha, who became the Buddha, walked out on his wife and child in the middle of the night, without so much as a goodbye. Srila Prabhupada, the man who brought the Hindu vaishnava tradition to the West, also left behind a wife and multiple children.
There are certainly cases where Spirit asks an individual to sacrifice literally everything they’ve known to pursue their calling. I’d wager to say, however, that this approach doesn’t hold water for a lot of people heading down the road Home.
Divinity in the details
“Do you speak to me like you speak to God? All the love and understanding between the Father and the Son.” ~ Nahko & Medicine For The People
That might leave a whole lot of us — myself included — wondering how to move forward in this society, in our current family dynamics, while maintaining a dedication to spiritual growth. Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all, step-by-step answer.
To some degree or another things will inevitably change. Some relationships will deepen, some fall away altogether. That might mean spouses and work environments, but it doesn’t have to; that’s something only the individual can decide.
What can be applied across the board, however, is the approach we take to our relationships, whether with other people or with work. Even our relationships with cleaning, or taking the dog for a walk, or the dog itself.
Anything we approach with a sense of obligation or entitlement will be inevitably tainted by the ego’s need for separation. The detail that’s important here is this: Am I approaching this activity/relationship as I would approach God? That is, am I approaching it with love, understanding, and respect?
Balance vs Integration
“There are three ways in which consciousness can flow into what you do and thus through you into this world…The modalities of awakened doing are acceptance, enjoyment, and enthusiasm…If you are not in the state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm, look closely and you will find that you are creating suffering for yourself and others.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
I would posit that the key is not to find a balance between your spiritual life and your workaday life, but to integrate the two. In this way, the hours you spend at work can be infused with life, that great energy that makes this mind-boggling universe work as splendidly as it does.
If you find yourself in a position, as Eckhart Tolle says, where you cannot at the bare minimum accept what you are doing, it is likely time to take a good hard look at that activity or relationship.
The energy that we put into each moment is the energy that will be transmitted to the end product. If that energy comes from a place of frustration or anger, no matter how beneficial or positive you envision the end product being, it will be tainted with that energy.
For example, if you are making a breakfast to feed hundreds of homeless people, but you resent the fact that you have to clean all these pots and pans, the food that you serve will be infused with that negativity. The body will still be fed, but the soul will continue to hunger.
However, if you can find acceptance, even enjoyment or enthusiasm in your work, keeping that kind of focus on what you’re doing immediately transforms it into a spiritual act. In this way, you are channeling love and life energy into even the most mundane of tasks.
Imagine, if filing your taxes could be elevated into an act of worship and expansion. As Aristotle said, “The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” Change your mindset, and you can change the world.
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