When I teach, I usually teach at whatever level the group is at—while always adding something more in order to encourage the attendees to stretch their minds a bit more. But, being at Unity of Sedona for several years now is different. Here, the attendees seem ready for something profound every week, and I am happy to oblige. And yet it can still push some people’s buttons to have someone standing up there on a consistent basis speaking on such deep and varied topics and doing so with such confidence.
A Story About Walking the Spiritual Path
Students on the spiritual path (including those in Sedona) are well represented in a story I created about two freshwater springs. These springs are found by walking through a very hot and challenging desert. The first spring is called the “spring of comfort.” It has cool, clean, refreshing water and is only a two-mile walk—which makes the visit this spring all the more enticing, as it’s somewhat easy to reach and offers at least a reasonable amount of reward. The other spring is called the “spring of life.” This spring is reached after first visiting the spring of comfort. This spring has all the beauty of the first spring, and even more, but it’s several more miles away. Nevertheless, this spring is well worth it, as it can awaken one’s soul—thus bringing us eternal life and a life of depth, abundance, and fulfilling relationships.
Oddly enough, although the spring of life offers a far greater reward than the spring of comfort, even those who set out for it usually end up settling for the spring of comfort. Although they could use the refreshment they receive at the spring of comfort to give them the strength they need to reach the spring of life, by the time they are ready to take off again and reach the spring of life, they feel it’s simply too late in the day to continue on with the longer journey. They don’t understand how tragic their decision is, because they have no idea what they are missing and because they choose to distract themselves with their smaller accomplishment of reaching the spring of comfort. So they tend to fill their mind with rationalizations for not choosing the greater quest. Those who choose not to move on to the spring of life will carry within their soul a greater burden than they already had. Their soul knows of their failure to choose wisely and it will add to their burden in their next life.
But the few who do choose the greater quest for the spring of life are either those who go part way, rest, and then move forward again until they reach their goal OR they are those who don’t even bother stopping for a rest and just insist on getting to the spring of life as soon as possible, as they know the new life that awaits them.
The Three Gunas, or States of Consciousness
In the Hindu Yogi and Buddhist traditions, there is something called the “three gunas” (which basically defines our three general types of people or states of consciousness—each more evolved than the previous. These are known as “tamas,” “rajas,” and “sattva.”
The first group/type (tamas) represents the shallow people who don’t even bother embarking on the spiritual path. The second group/type (rajas) represents those who do embark on the path, but settle for the spring of comfort and everything it represents. Yes, they are on the path, but mainly to the point that it serves them (e.g. increasing sales, impressing friends, finding more lovers, lifting reputation, affording better wine, etc.). There might be progress on this person’s path but the progress has not yet become deeply rooted. The third group/type (sattva) represents those who maintain a focus on God as a priority (rather than self). They live to be loved and give praise (through words and deeds of kindness), rather than to “get love” and/or “receive praise.”
Oneness with God Is Our Top Priority
If it’s true that all of life’s events are a test for us (and I assure you they are) AND if connecting with Spirit is the most important thing in the world (and I assure you it is), then it stands to reason that all of life’s tests are about getting ourselves closer to God. By default, all else is a distraction and a potential detour away from our goal of oneness with God.
It’s not to say we can’t have a nice time while we are here but the point is to get our priorities straight—both our personal and our spiritual priorities. Our spiritual priorities (which include involving ourselves with as many spiritual experiences as possible) supersede all else—including our personal priorities. Setting a spiritual priority can be as simple as starting and ending the day with communion with God, rather than merely having a blank mind or obsessing over the issues of life. Our personal priorities include making it a priority to go to a gym instead of a bar OR spending time with a counselor instead of being absorbed in addiction. Choosing to create greater personal priorities is actually a great way to connect with and honor our spiritual priorities and actually mirrors placing a greater priority on God.
Distractions Along the Spiritual Path
We should all ask ourselves what it is that we allow to get in our way of reaching the spring of life. For some people, the distractions can be as shallow as a favorite television show, a romantic date, “getting laid,” or going to a sporting event. Don’t get me wrong, these things are great to do if that’s your thing, but only if they are seen as less of a priority than one’s spiritual path. Some even make excuses like claiming that going to a sporting event IS a “spiritual experience” for them. Nice try, but it doesn’t fly. Yes, we can gain something spiritual from nearly any experience, but we need to make it a priority to participate in experiences that are so filled with Spirit, that it would be nearly impossible to not have a spiritual experience when we attend—events such as healing circles, counseling sessions, Sunday services, Solstice Celebrations, and so forth.
So consider being honest about all things in life including your spiritual path. We need to stop justifying our petty hobbies, addictions, and distractions as having any real importance. We can go ahead and do them if we must, but we should call them what they are and not confuse them with the real path Home.