Those in the know say that realisation, that all encompassing instant preceding enlightenment, takes but a fraction of a second to come. Certainly, these words of wisdom shed light on an aspiration that has captured the minds of spiritual enthusiasts. At the same time, they have also led many novices to put off their engagement with spirituality in anticipation of that proverbial ‘Ah’ moment, believing that until this experience transpires, their time has not yet come.
Has your time come?
In many ways, enthusiasts are not to be blamed for their preoccupation with time, or to be precise, the right time. A person, who has supposedly embarked on some form of spirituality, has opined to the supposedly less fortunate being, “Your time has not yet come.” The proclamation, or should it be called sweeping statement, does not pass without side-effects. I have known of friends and relatives, driven to near desperation on being anointed with this label, remarking in response:
“I have been sitting on the fence for the longest time ever.” “I am interested in spirituality, so when will my time come?” Their musings, somewhat on these lines, bring to mind French poet and writer Victor Hugo’s oft-quoted observation, “Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”
Are you ‘really’ a seeker?
Hugo’s words rightly suggest that there is no stopping a being possessed. So if you are possessed with the idea to evolve in the spiritual sense, then it is more likely that you will find the entire universe conspiring to bring spirituality to your doorstep, and from there on, to pervade your life. And then, it could be said that you heralded your own time. In your practical life, this may manifest as your finding solutions to nagging problems. Or as experiencing greater clarity of your life’s purpose, and hence, of your way forward or as the undoing of shackles chaining you to a more mundane existence.
Spiritual engagement starts from a strong thought—wannabes have got that part of the equation right. But more often than not, this singular thought does not represent ‘that’ elusive moment when every missing link falls into place and you feel completely at peace with the universe.
Nor does it mark a point from whereon a seeker experiences no struggle or challenges or enters nirvana, never to return. It simply indicates an individual’s determination to engage in spiritual practice, and to work towards enlightenment. If such is the case, then what are you waiting for?
Practice makes perfect
As a practice, spirituality brings momentary achievements, in the sense that the quality of your deeds indicates whether you were ‘aware’ or ‘not aware’ at the moment of action. That is to say, some actions are performed with the awareness of the pervasive nature of consciousness, whereas some are not. It is not incorrect to expect a spiritual person to have a heightened state of awareness. In practice, this would mean that the individual performs more and more actions while conscious of the need to respect the feelings of every form of life.
Every sincere aspirant has experienced that spirituality is not achieved in a moment or a second. It is not simply a question of having one blissful experience of living beyond the body. It is about an ongoing engagement that gives rise to a series of such momentary highs, until such time that you can be present in that awareness at will. Then, you can live every moment, think every thought, speak every word and perform every action in that state of mind. In other words, you find peace within, and then walk the talk by creating peace without. You remain firmly ensconced in a peaceful state.
Practice makes perfect, and arguably, nowhere is this more applicable than in the realm of spiritual endeavour. It takes years of walking the path to lead oneself fully into the light. Given this reality, wouldn’t you desire to start sooner rather than later?
The need to commit now
Spirituality is about the real you, that is, the soul or spirit, which does not belong to the material world. Actually, that is why it is important to develop an interest in spirituality—it introduces you to you. And interestingly, you can only experience yourself, the soul, when you are alive, or have the faculty to experience. So, in spite of the fact that spirituality is not about the material world, it is still relevant to it and if you choose so, to the present moment.
Spirituality is about a lifelong commitment to self evolution, to slowly moving towards enlightenment while living in the world. Granted, any change takes time, but changing the self is also a lot of hard work. As Leo Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Perhaps the fact that self evolution is no child’s play is why enthusiasts delay their commitment to evolution, hoping that a short-cut will appear in the form of instant enlightenment. Some individuals, who are spiritually disposed by nature, find it easier to make this commitment. Materialism tugs less at their heartstrings, but that is not all. Genuinely concerned about the quality of their actions, they make it their life’s worth to experience the self as pure consciousness, and then connect with other beings on that level. When you reach that stage, your deeds resonate with virtues.
Spirituality in your life
If you think of it, isn’t spirituality all about striving to experience yourself on a higher plane and then going on to refine your consciousness? If so, in the context of this effort taking place over an individual’s lifetime, spirituality would more accurately be likened to a process than an end.
As long as the process is underway, you make spiritual progress. If the process stops, you spiritually stagnate. So, it is important to experience progress for these qualitative improvements in your consciousness to manifest in the quality of your interpersonal relationships.
In a spiritual perspective, ‘where you are’ is the lesser issue. What counts is ‘where you are heading’. Again, you should not be overly concerned about when you will achieve your spiritual end. As long as you are enjoying the journey, you are bound to invest the necessary time and effort in achieving your aim, and beyond doubt, you will get there some day.
And thus, we are brought back to our starting point. It is not enough to simply desire spirituality and wait for the right time. Mere desire without any accompanying effort is no worthier than daydreaming. Or as they say in business parlance, to work without a plan is to run around in circles. A person who has the thought to improve will improve, by virtue of seizing the moment, planning and implementing practical changes to make his or her life more spiritual. The question to ask is—is that your idea too?