The longer I live, the more I realise that I have been living it all wrong.
I occupied myself with securing a name for myself, a place for myself, a career, a circle of friends, with things and more things. I measured myself and my self-worth based on far I’d come in the world. I prized myself on my intelligence, on being able to ace it at school and being successful at work. I had ‘made it’ accordingly to societal standards, and at one point I could truly say to myself that I have everything that I have ever dreamt of achieving.
In my spiritual practice, however, I was stagnant. I reasoned with myself that my practice was stagnating because I devoted less time to it amongst all the other worldly concerns that demanded my time. Actually, the problem was a lot deeper than simply an inability to juggle priorities.
For the spiritual seekers like myself who have not renounced the world, we try to fit their spiritual practice into our daily lives. This helps. It makes daily life more enriching and easier as we battle the myriad problems that come our way.
However, at some point, I hit that ceiling in my practice, because I was trying to have it all without appreciating that I was travelling two very different paths and developing two very different skills.
Society encourages me to consume, to accumulate and to retain. It teaches me to be a thinker, to be competitive, and above all, to be a somebody.
My spiritual path, on the other hand, blossomed when I resisted the temptation to just consume and give into my endless craving; when I let go of that need to hoard; when I understood that financial security gave little security to my life if I didn’t have a healthy mind to live with.
My spiritual practice taught me to refine my observation so as to truly understand the nature of this life, this body and this mind, and to do so, I needed to first let go of my worldly intelligence that’s so bound up in concepts and ideas.
Most importantly, my spiritual journey is an honest unraveling of all the components that I take as “me” and all the things that I identify with as “mine”, and coming to a stark realisation that actually none of those components are me and nothing I have is really mine. The social distinctions of “me” and “you”, of “us” and “them” that is so essential to the cohesion of society, begins to break down.
So the practice for today, and indeed this life, is an aspiration to not just use our spiritual practice to make this life bearable, but one day to use this life for our spiritual practice so as to reach the highest goal.