What Spiritual Journey?

When did your spiritual journey begin? Maybe at the beginning of time. Maybe it’s not a journey at all.

Our spiritual unfolding can feel like a journey. We may sense development or progress. We may be able to identify milestones, breakthroughs, shifts in consciousness, moments of awakening. These are not illusions. They are real. But there is no journey, and you don’t move from one place to another.

You have always been whole. You have always been connected. Any thoughts or feelings that are otherwise are illusions. If there’s a journey, it’s a journey of undoing illusions.

When I was a young child, I experienced life as whole. Every day was one day. There were milestones, but they weren’t milestones of self or consciousness. My self was intact and connected. One day, I didn’t need a crib. On another day, I could turn on the TV by myself.

But I wasn’t different. I was the same. And every day was like one continuous day.

Things changed abruptly when I went to school. Teachers identified me as a me. It was very surprising. I had a difficult time understanding what they saw. Mostly they saw things they thought needed improving. Some things they praised. I didn’t know what to make of it either way.

Soon enough I noticed my parents were in collusion with my teachers. So were aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, strangers in the stores and parks. I quickly realized I had to identify with whatever “self” they were all seeing and try to bring that self into acceptance. In confusion, I desperately tried to create a self – a self to hide behind. That self was mostly created by everything around me. I worked hard to fit into it, but I wasn’t great at the process. And there was no escaping the work to create a self that was acceptable.

Deep down I knew that everyone was wrong about who I was. I knew I was connected to something more, something vast, something larger than our neighborhood. But I was outnumbered.

During summers I could let much of my budding ego go as I ran free in fields and woods, seeking tadpoles, snakes, and caterpillars. For years, I was partly successful. This ended completely with the onset of puberty.

It can take decades to remember who you are. It can take lifetimes.

Imagine the relief I felt as I discovered that my five-year-old being was real after all. It wasn’t a journey to get there; it wasn’t even a returning. It was simply an awareness of the truth, a sense of presence that was dearly familiar.

My true being never left. It was never diminished. I didn’t have to travel anywhere to align myself once again with a true self – the self that isn’t a self. I had to nearly die, but I didn’t have to go on a journey.

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11 thoughts on “What Spiritual Journey?

  1. I love this post! In many ways I felt I was reading about myself. I was always so different than everyone around me, friends, family, neighbors, everyone! I spent half my childhood in forests, fields, beaches, mountains creating my own little world with the fairies 🙂

    • Thanks for your kind words, Line. Glad you liked it. The post was partly prompted by an earlier comment from you where you mentioned feeling different — and very spiritual — when you were a child. That really struck home, so I decided to discuss my own struggle as I moved from a childhood where I felt whole to crushing socialization.

  2. Thank you Robert, this is a great blog. I would like to add a few words— Conceptual, of course. Yet interesting.

    The knowledge ‘I am’ comes to us after our body is born, after that the body of childhood grows identifying with the body (as the self) plus what others perceive him/her to be—all conceptual of course. All are concepts except for the awareness of ‘Being’ or ‘I am’. So all through life you have to remember to investigate who is this ‘I am’. Birth and death has no meaning for beingness, and beingness will also be dissolved after the death of the body.

    Here is two quotes from Nisargadata:

    To understand more clearly take the example of the dream world. You are in deep sleep and suddenly you feel ‘I am’ and that ‘I amness’ creates a dream world. Similarly this manifest world is created by that ‘I amness’. You will realize this later in the search for truth. The last progress will be for you to transcend this ‘I amness’ and get stabilized in the ultimate.

    The knowledge ‘I am’ is the first ignorance and whatever knowledge you acquire with it is ignorance. Go back to the source of your ignorance.

  3. Very true. Our real self gets smothered with layers of others projections and we need to look inside. I’m still just learning to get in touch with who I really am 🙂 thank you for this lovely post

  4. Rob, I agree that as young children we are still strongly connected to the ‘larger’ world, if you will. We are open and many kids see angels, auras, etc. Then the logical adults tell us that we are imagining things and the window begins to close on us. I remember trying to explain what I realize now was being in and out of my body, when I was a child. But no one understood. I suspect that you are raising your son to be open and receptive and what a gift that is for him. So nice to see another blog encouraging awakening and personal growth. Kudos to you and enjoy your ‘journey’. It will be filled with much joy along the way. And thank you so much for following Tovarysh. Namaste.

  5. Thanks for your wise comments. The things I valued most as a child — the creatures, the weather, the sky, the clouds, the music, and whatever beings seemed to be around me — were pretty much invisible to the rest of the world.

  6. Interesting post Rob, I like the abstract style. This post reminds me of

    Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
    (James 4:14)

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