We are powerfully influenced by our internal and external world to seek spiritual experiences because we want to feel good. Naturally, everybody wants to feel good, but when it moves beyond a certain point by becoming a central spiritual mandate or criterion, we could then become an adherent of one of the many feel-good religions vying for our attention. “Gimme the feel-good feelings! I do not want to make effort, I do not want to change.” We might feel easy delight to join the chorus; “Do not tell me anything that might be difficult, such as I have to think, purify or change my behavior. Don’t talk to me about those things. I just want to feeeelllll good.” Well, that is what drugs are for. Whether you are using the recreational drugs of “feel good” spiritual process or drugs sold on the streets, it is not so different.
People with a main spiritual gauge of wanting to feel good, fail as soon as something does not feel good, like the effort needed to get rid of obstacles or negative habits that arise to torment them regularly, such as anger, jealousy or fear. For the intelligent or skillful, naturally, wanting to feel good is quite okay as long as it is not the most compelling spiritual criterion.
Sadly, and quite obvious to others is a wish for others to admire us for our saint like qualities or holiness. Some begin a spiritual search, with no innate inner abilities, and with nothing to give other than their self-cherishing air of holiness about themselves, so that others will admire them. Again, there are those who actually have an admirable quality of holiness that is an indication of inner development such as Padre Pio or His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many others who do not have famous names. It is even more than quite okay to be holy, but to have as a decisive factor of craving admiration for a false holiness will eventually cause them to do strange things that will culminate in everyone knowing their lack of “holy” qualities.
Now, this wish to be holy is not a fully negative attitude. It is really quite realistic to have as a goal wanting to be a good person, and upon further reflection, realizing that the only method is to become a spiritual person, and attaining qualities. Then, the criterion is; you want to be a good person. This is very much in line with a healthy awareness and values wanting to help others. We want to help others, and we want to be a good person. If you think, ‘How do I become a good person? What are the qualities of this “good person” that I want to become?’ This must be connected to becoming a more spiritual person, and in that way, you answer that question by asking yourself another question: What is spiritual?
So, what are the obstacles preventing us from being the spiritual being we envision? Basically, it is the same list as earlier in the discussion in how we go about achieving our ordinary potential. My first answer was and still is that you are too busy to achieve outer goals, and you are also too busy to develop and become a spiritual person. You have an unprepared education. You do not know how to go about it. You have a fear of being ridiculed, and you have a fear of failure. You are not able to move from wishing to be, to the active stage of preparation. These are identical to the obstacles in becoming who you want to be even in your ordinary life. Poor health is another one. You are not able to energetically, mentally or physically sustain the continuity of spiritual effort, or something in your health prevents you from doing the preparation.
The last one common to both inner and outer success is confusion regarding your responsibilities. The reason who you have not fully delved into spiritual activities and meditation activities is that you have many other things to do. You have dishes to wash, meetings to go to, you have this to do and that to do. Therefore, you cannot put spiritual life and preparation for being a spiritual person into the category of your responsibilities. In fact, it should be at the top of the list, which is why some men and women seek to be ordained, becoming a monastic in order to devote full time to spiritual life. For them, spiritual development goes from down here on priorities up to the top of the list. It becomes the most important thing in their lives, and everything else falls below that.
So, this is all very interesting, but how do we begin? No matter what our goals might be, how do we begin a fresh course of action, unencumbered by unwanted influences perhaps even instilled in childhood of becoming who you want to be? Some might wish to become an astronomer. Mostly, I speak from a spiritual Buddhist process, but if you want to apply this toward becoming a movie star or a better bookkeeper, then that is what you should do.
How to begin: Strongly admire the goal while holding to a flexible mind that understands that the very nature of change allows the space and opportunity to become the transitional being that experiences the path leading to a desired goal. I will say it again. Strongly admire the goal. In that way, you are experiencing process, but you are also aware of the goal. You are conscious that the very nature of human life in time and space and form means that everything continues to change and that you are a transitional being of your own life process. Whatever stage of time and space you are presently in, you are the experiencer of the process of the path to the goal.
However, you are not the one that will be the spiritual being. Is that disappointing? You will continue to be a transitional being for as long as it takes to get through the stage of the process that you are currently experiencing. You are the doer of all of the activities and all of the efforts, but you will not be the resultant goal. You will not be the spiritual being. Is this okay? I hope it is okay because that is the way it is.
Really, some people do not want it to be that way, and they will not think of it that way, but I promise you it is! From your own viewpoint, you cannot recognize the future you, the future one that will be the spiritual being. You cannot recognize it because you do not have all of the elements yet to even understand that being. However, that future being will remember you, isn't that so? That future being will retain information about you, but you are not yet acquainted with that future being. While you are in the transitional phase, please do not hold a memory of your past that complains, “I struggled, I fought, and I was filled with anger." Try not to be like that!
You are going to embarrass yourself in the future if you act badly now, isn't that so? You do not want to have to feel ashamed when you remember back. Be the best transitional being in your stage of the process that you can possibly be, and you will continue to authentically progress. Otherwise, it is just another fantasy role-playing. I am a fairy princess. I am an astronaut. I am a good guy; I am a bad guy. This is not real.
Interestingly, when you arrive in that future, it will feel like you are the same person because of an amazing quality of human life called continuity of consciousness. For example, you can remember and feel like the same person that you were as a child, but upon reflection, you know that you are not that same person either physically or mentally. You have a continuity of consciousness that reaches into your past. In that same way, you will be remembered by your future you, due to continuity or consciousness. You want those memories to be quality, don't you?
There is a dynamic tension between what and who you are right now and the mental view of the possibilities of what you could be in the future. There is something strong between the you that you are now; the one wishing to be alive to an unknown vision of who you could be, you can feel. Some experience being pulled toward a goal of who they actually are, or what they could be, that guides them from the inside, changing ideas and inner sensations to more easily move into a new version that can realize full potentials. To be continued……