Many people are looking for a spiritual teacher, an enlightened being who can help them progress in their spiritual growth or path to enlightenment. Some jump from one teacher to another being perpetually dissatisfied, or maybe they find one teacher they like and stay there for the rest of their lives.
Yet, there are so few people who attain spiritual progress despite years of meditation. Their character flaws and ego personality issues that they wish to resolve never dissipate. This is very disheartening of course. I have pondered this problem for years and would like to share my conclusions.
I have found in my search for spiritual enlightenment the path of meditation may not actually be the right or best path for most people, other than the exceptional few.
There are two directions the average person who finds some lack or issues with their life that they want to resolve, or wants to be more than just a human and reach some spiritual level of growth, can take.
The first path is of course the path of the spiritual mystic who meditates and does all the spiritual practices to develop their soul and spiritual growth. This may bring results, but often leaves the ego/personality not much better than they were before they began. You may be a better person in some ways but with the same problems.
The other path which I have no doubt is the most practical use of our time on earth is one of personality change towards total equanimity and emotional independence. Being emotionally independent is to be master of your emotions rather than your emotions being swung this way and that based on the events of the day or other peoples actions. This is the path of fixing the flaws of the human personality and ego rather than trying to increase concentration or spiritual level.
Buddha put it best with the saying; “As a mountain is unmoved by wind or rain, so a wise person is unmoved by praise or blame.”
Rather than a spiritual direction or goal, I have a simple basic human personality ego goal. To become a free and balanced person. To be free of mental, emotional and psychological issues that keep a person tied in endless confusion and suffering. The path of personality development is simple and practical, and far more effective in changing your experience of life. Despite sounding different, this is the path Buddha taught.
We could meditate for hours each day, however by altering our conscious existence in this life, we will make the most practical and effective improvement and changes on our spiritual level.
Buddha said that all we are is an accumulation of thought forms and desires. If you meditate 10 hours a day but retain these desires, thought forms and fears etc, then based on his teaching, you would be reborn virtually the same. However, if you did not meditate at all, but rather changed your personality such that you are a free being with no fears, desires or issues, and that you are comfortable in any situation and with yourself, in this case, Buddha and every other religion and teaching indicate that you would have a much better rebirth, either here on earth or in heaven and the afterlife.
My view is that I seek to become free of emotional contortions, swings, negative self-destructive tendencies, characteristics that are harmful to myself and other people. Simply to become a better, balanced, peaceful, content human being who brings a smile to everyone they meet.
This to me is enough. I am impervious to insults, emotional manipulations, fear of what other people will think of me, and funny enough much to my surprise, the more I became free in this way, the more compassionate and considerate I became.
The normal human state of consciousness is based on self-preservation, desires and aversions. In this ‘normal’ state, we are so concerned with ourselves that we are sensitive to anything that appears will detract from our desires, reject or attack us. However, by becoming emotionally free, I have found that with the release of desires and fears I can be fully aware and available to where I am needed and be there 100%.
It changes the experience of life, it changes the experience of everyone who interacts with us. People we work with and of course friends and relationships will all benefit by your no longer being emotionally sensitive, stressed, angry, irritated and all the other nasty things humans deal with, even after meditating for years.
If you need to go meditate because you are stressed, then your are not getting anywhere. You may as well take Valium. True spiritual practice changes you permanently such that you do not get stressed or angry any longer. You become a white cloud decorating the sky, give shelter from the burning sun, bring rain to drink and water the plants, but can never be trapped or attacked. If a plane can fly through a cloud without causing the least disturbance, how could anyone hurt you when you have dissolved the ego-grasping that makes you very delicate and emotional.
Think of how many mistakes you make because of an emotional reaction. The fights and hurtful words you later regret are obvious. But as well, business decisions can be disastrous when made emotionally, and this I say from very expensive personal experience! Our life experience is based on our emotional reactions. If you master your wild mind, your life is in your control.
You have to choose your own direction. We must each find our own path, and not follow someone else’s just because it sounds good and everyone else follows it. Find out what is really most important to you. Is it really to become enlightened or, is that to serve the purpose of eliminating stress, emotional swings, fears, ego flaws. What is your real goal,?What matters most to you? Be honest with yourself.
You may also find that the practices one may do in a spiritual path are really just to help you become a better person who is content with every moment of their life. If this is the goal you truly seek, I suggest you consider the path of simple objective reality. Be like a cloud, realizing that words have no effect on you other than the value you give them. A good place to start is the article about understanding words an end to all conflicts.