You might ask yourself ‘why would I choose to take a spiritual path in life’? The answer may be less obvious than it seems at first. Evidence suggests that you might be designed to seek out a higher power. The oldest archaeological sites discovered to date all have one thing in common. Whether we’re talking about early civilizations in ancient Egypt, the far east or even the oldest communities in the Americas, each of these early settlements were built around a central temple or place of worship. Each culture pursued its own brand of religious practice but central to each is the acknowledgement of a higher power. What is even more interesting is that these cultures are separated by time and great distances. The need to identify with a higher power seems to be a part of the human experience.
So the better question may be, “What does it mean to choose a spiritual path for my life?“ Of course there are as many answers to this question as there are people. Although an examination of the varying answers may reveal some commonalities which might be true for you.
Moving From the Inside Out
Many people on a spiritual path practice meditation. Meditation can be defined as an activity where an individual uses a technique, such as focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity, to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. Meditation looks differently from culture to culture. Christian prayer is meditation, Buddhists meditate in a specific seated position while Islamic mystics called Whirling Dervishes meditate while spinning in circles for hours. The common denominator is a desire to connect to something outside of the individual, to become one with the divine even if for just a moment. But why are we driven to seek this connection?
A Sense of Purpose
Our lives today aren’t all that different from our ancestors. Imagine working constantly tilling the soil or tending to your flock or herd. At the end of the day, you had little or nothing left except to look forward to another day, another year of this laborious life. Today we work too much, earn too little resign ourselves to the belief that “Hey, that’s life.” To complicate matters, modern cities are built not around religious temples but temples to money, power & prestige. There is nothing wrong with money, power & prestige but those are not an end to themselves. If they were then every rich person would be happy and every poor person sad, but a quick look around would suggest that isn’t true. So what were our distant relatives doing when they took time to worship an unseen God? They were attempting to make sense of the random world they lived in, to find meaning, to find their own sense of purpose.
Choosing a spiritual path means you are taking time to find your place in this world, discover a sense of purpose. Living a life on purpose is a powerful approach to life. In our frenetic world today, it’s easy to get caught up in “spiritual exhibitionism” which put simply is comparing your purpose with someone else’s purpose… a game by the way you can never win. It is by living the best life you are able you’re your place becomes evident, your purpose. Martin Luther King Jr said it best “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”
Choose “The Journey”
Finding your purpose may be a life-long journey. When you confuse “being on your path” with “being in your head” it’s easy to imagine that once you discover your purpose you will know exactly what actions to take in life. But that is the voice of the trickster living inside your head. It is in taking action in your life that you will discover your purpose. The desire to discover your purpose first can lead to a state of ‘paralysis of analysis’. You’re too much in your head. The second approach of taking action first frees the spirit to live this life full; to love, to explore, to grow. Let yourself off the hook of needing to always be in control, relax about looking foolish to others, and give up your need to be right. Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist and author, said “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’” Choose the journey, let life be an adventure.
So… Where is This Spiritual Path Anyway?
Since it appears that we are born in to this world predisposed to seek out a higher power, and to discern our place and purpose in the universe then is it a huge leap to assume that life itself is the spiritual path? If that’s true, then being on the spiritual path is simply a matter of relaxing into the process of life. But in our fast-paced technology driven world, finding peace of mind seems elusive. Recent reports suggest that traditional religions are experiencing a drop in attendance. The decrease seems not to be from lack of interest but that traditional religious/spiritual practices are not addressing the needs of their followers. People more than ever are searching for meaning in an ever increasingly mechanized world. What underlies all religious practice is a personal need to be aware of some greater existence, and to commune with that power no matter the façade we place on the greater power.
Why Choose a Spiritual Path?
Consciously choosing a spiritual path can result in less stress, more healthy living. Your spiritual choices will cultivate a true love and compassion for yourself and others. As your life improves (and others notice) you may even become a leader to others as they embark on their own spiritual journey. Lastly being on a personal spiritual journey adds your name to the those throughout history who lead by example in making this a better world.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi