“If your enlightenment is egocentric and self-delusional, then life will soon give you a challenge that will bring out your unconsciousness in whatever form—as fear, anger, defensiveness, judgment, depression, and so on.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
I’m a different person today than I was a couple of years ago.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I used to track my progress on the spiritual path like an expecting mother tracking her baby’s development through pregnancy.
Ironically, I only truly progressed when I least expected it. Consequently, I could discern the difference between my actual progress down the spiritual path, and the progress I thought I was making.
The times I thought I was eradicating my ego, I was only strengthening it. When I thought I was moving forward, I was in fact moving backward.
This is a common misstep on the spiritual path. Discovering the realm of spirituality can be exciting, but this excitement can shade our spiritual evolvement.
I still remember the first couple of months when I was learning Zen Buddhism. I almost inked “I’m a Buddhist” on my forehead (taking into account I scarcely knew anything about Buddhism).
When our excitement decreases, our relationship to our spiritual practice deepens and becomes increasingly authentic.
There comes a moment in every person’s spiritual path when something shifts. We can feel it and instantly recognize it. This shift will allow us to confirm that our experience is shifting back on track toward the evolvement of our spiritual consciousness.
There are many indications of growth on the spiritual path. However, there are six unmistakable indications to which every person who’s progressing can relate.
1. You don’t talk about it anymore.
It is normal to engage in conversations about spirituality and personal experiences. However, it is unusual to mention our progress in front of people who don’t ask about it.
Talking about our progress is a definite sign that we are not progressing. The reason is because as long as we are announcing our progress, our motivation is to prove ourselves to others—defeating the whole purpose of spiritual growth. Our progress in this case is counterfeit. We’re doing it for all the wrong reasons—only to boost our “spiritual image” in front of others.
2. You extract a lesson out of every experience.
To truly become spiritual is to see the good in everything. We’re all familiar with our daily experiences. We know that it is merely impossible to have perfect days that are void of difficulties.
A person who is spiritually progressing will only see through the positivity of these difficulties. Instead of extracting the bad, we extract the good and learn from the bad.
For a person who is improving on the spiritual path, complications are essential for his or her growth. They know that without shortcomings, there isn’t spiritual success.
3. You realize the nature of things.
As humans, we tend to be attached to the physical realm. We are prone to take happiness and gratification from transitory objects, and persons (as we believe they’re permanent). A person who’s making progress spiritually, knows that everything physical is transient.
To put it differently, true progress on the spiritual path is realizing that the nature of all things is impermanent. Whether it’s fame, money, people, education, or labels, the satisfaction they bring is illusionary because it is short-lived.
Knowing that all is impermanent, a true spiritual person will stop seeking happiness from what doesn’t last. A spiritual person realizes that they are part of this impermanent cycle.
4. You realize there’s nowhere to reach.
When we first embark on the spiritual path, we think there is an actual destination. And so, we tirelessly work on reaching it and pressure ourselves into it.
Truth be told, there is no destination. It took me a long time to recognize that we’re all already there. However, our problems, thoughts and emotions obscure its beauty. Our calamities are like the mist that limits our visibility.
When this cloud is eradicated, we can clearly see that the destination is where we’re already standing.
5. You stop judging the paths of others.
Spirituality is a path by itself, however, everybody walks it in a different manner. We genuinely progress on this path when we refrain from judging the people who are walking it differently from us.
An improved spiritual person understands that to each their own. They see beyond religion, nationality, color, and ethics. Rather, they see actions and speech.
6. You stop resisting.
As simple as this may sound, you stop resisting. We tend to control, resist, fight. A person who has worked on their personal development resists no more. They comprehend that everything they resist truly persists.
A genuine spiritual person knows they are not in control.
A genuine spiritual person lets go.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Cristina L.F./Flickr
Editor: Caitlin Oriel