Which path should I choose? This is a common question and one which I would like to share my 30 years of experience of study in Sufi, Buddhism, Zen, Taoism, Gnostic, Hermetica, and many others.
I was born knowing there was more to life and that there must be a path or teaching which guided a seeker to the ultimate end. My life has been devoted to finding a path that will bring me there.
My entire spiritual practice was talking to my invisible friends. I never meditated or did anything of that sort in the traditional sense until I was in my mid 20’s. All I did was talk to my invisible friends out loud on late night walks (so no one was out to hear me) for hours and also talked to them through the day when I was alone. Life was working perfectly as if God was personally making sure that despite numerous difficulties and obstacles, in the end I always triumphed.
I eventually began studying and practicing many different mystical paths, learning everything I could. I would wake up before 6 everyday and spend 2 hours in meditation and the rest of the day between work and study, then other practices until late in the night.
I would like to tell you, after decades of study and practice of many different paths, which was the best one for me.
Many religions say that everyone must follow one path (of course theirs). Bear in mind that mystical teachings are rarely to be taken literally. They are meant to make a person think, since looking deeper than the surface of any situation is the only way to find an inner truth. If the teachings were all literal, then you would never develop the ability to look beyond the surface.
Taken literally that is clearly wrong, however taken as a profound teaching with a deeper meaning, it gives the key to the door to heaven and the explanation of failure on the path to God and Universal Truth, as well as success in a normal life, regardless of any spiritual aspirations.
The more paths and choices we have to select from, the more we get confused.
This is human nature.
Each true path is designed to take you on a certain road to the same goal. When you mix paths, you confuse the directions in your own mind because as you learn you only have pieces of information, yet your ego thinks it understands.
This is where you get confused when one thing appears to contradict another. Both are pure sources yet they say different things on the surface, so what do you believe?
When you are lost or confused you will be stuck on hold until you know what to do. Getting more conflicting information only makes the problem worse. You may spend your entire life as a seeker and get absolutely nowhere.
If there was only one path to God available, you would not be in danger of mixing things together and confusing your mind into a state of mental, emotional and spiritual confusion.
Hence the concept that there should be only one religion has some validity due to the dangerous ease in which we can get confused and thus lost.
The lesson is to pick one and one path only if you want your mind to reach a state of perfect calm so you can find God or simply happiness.
There may be many religions but ultimately there can only be one ultimate source.
For those of you who think Buddhism and Zen are great paths because they point you to yourself rather than an external god, believing in those can be equally confusing if you remain on the surface and just read some popular books.
For example, Buddha spoke of the thought formations which are the essence of your being which reincarnate. Zen says to go to the point before your embryo was formed the state of purity of the original mind before you where born.
Here we get confused with what am I? Am I a pure mind which gets distorted when I am born as a human or am I already a distorted mess of desires coming to be born to fulfill them?
Both paths originate from the same source, from Siddhartha Gautama 2500 years ago. Is there a collection of thought formations or is there pure unobstructed mind?
Consciously knowing this contradiction will probably prevent anyone from even getting close to that stage. This is the danger of only surface reading. Even what I have just written here is incomplete, thus misleading and therefore incorrect. If you do not search deeper, you would not find that in fact there is no contradiction, but it takes time and study to understand that they have said the same thing.
What I know is this; there is only one way to find God or truth or freedom or any name you give it. The way is to be 100% devoted to one and only one path.
The path I found works well for anyone because it does not involve a god or faith or anything at all that is other than a normal life.
It is simply this; maintain constant awareness.
It does not matter how you do that. By having invisible spirits or angels with you all the time and keeping a constant conversation going, or if you meditate for hours a day on one mantra, or if you are always aware of your breath for every breath you take, they can all work.
It is simply a matter of not polluting and confusing your mind with conflicting thoughts. Make your path on one road only. Believe in it fully in your heart with one very important caveat; this must be a real path.
There are too many false paths, teachers and excuses to work on yourself which just allow you to dream through life and get nowhere. Anything that is simple, easy, all about fun and happiness with no effort, anything that says all you have to do is want and think and you will get anything without work or sacrifice, is simply rubbish. You can try it out, but the only people who get anywhere in that line of belief are people who someone has heard about someone who heard about…
You must find a true path which if it is real will be very hard work. Be devoted to that one path alone, not diverting at all in any way with all the plethora of enticing mental delicacies to divert your focused attention from your ultimate goal.
Having studied, and honestly believing in the truth and validity of several paths, the one that worked for me was simply the one that was not a popular famous path, it was the essence of those paths. It was the one I was born with and came naturally to me, in feeding the deepest human desire, companionship. What made that work for me was that I chose my companions well. I kept my relationship to my childhood invisible friends alive to this day. You can apply this same principle to your choice.
Pick one and only one path.
Give total devotion to that path.
Find the essence of that path, be it God, Angels, your own mind or anything that you feel is the power behind it, and make that as real to you as your closest friend, never mind what anyone thinks or that you may look crazy.
It is your closeness and companionship which opens your heart to the great power of your mind.
Zen has put it best. The secret path to enlightenment has 3 steps. Pay attention, pay attention and pay attention.