What makes a person choose to live a spiritual life?
Our world seems to have everything we could ever possibly want to experience. There are places to go, things to do, movies and TV shows to watch, hobbies to attend to, wars to fight, friends and families to spend time with, sex to have, partners to love, drugs to take, wines to savor, pets to cuddle, jobs to go to and tasty foods to eat. We literally have a universe of things to do. So why would anyone want to focus on spirituality, an activity which often removes us from all of these exciting experiences of our world?
Many of us have had moments when we have realized the experiences available to us in this life are not very fulfilling unless they are also giving us a sense of peace and happiness. If we are not experiencing inner peace and happiness from our jobs, we soon begin pondering different employment. We’ll leave relationships when they no longer give us the peace and happiness we crave. Even with a seemingly infinite amount of things to see, do, and participate in in our world, we recognize most of those things aren’t worth doing unless they make us happy or fulfilled.
One of the main selling points of religion is that it will give you loads of inner fulfillment. Since the beginning of time, prophets and dynamic personalities have promised peace, happiness, and a blissful life if you would just worship their gods, pray their prayers, and live their particular way of life. And it seems to work for some people. Their faithful attend places of worship on a regular basis, remove certain experiences from their lives, wear particular clothes or symbols, and read recommended holy books. Whether they truly find inner peace and happiness can only be testified to by the individuals, but there seems to be no shortage of believers, disciples, and devotees to the numerous religions.
Most of us, however, would rather not remove ourselves from the activities of the world. We have no interest in becoming monks or ascetics or hermits. We want to experience all the excitement and fun life has to offer while also gaining the peace and happiness we feel on an intuitive level is our birthright. So we examine religion a bit to see if there is something we can take away and incorporate into our daily lives. We try meditation but can’t relax due to our noisy, crazy mind. Friends may suggest yoga, but we can’t experience inner peace when we are trying our best not to topple over. So we give up. We’d like to find something that works but it’s just way too much trouble.
My own life has been a long, focused pursuit of the spiritual. I don’t recall a time when I wasn’t trying to find god or at least the most effective path of reaching him/her/it. I went to church, read books, prayed, meditated, fasted, listened to teachers, gurus, and preachers. At times I felt like I was close, other times I didn’t know where I was or what I was doing. Still, the quest for a spiritual life was always my main motivation. I didn’t know how to separate that seeking from who I was as a person. Then one day that happened on its own.
When I was forty-something years old and still living a life as a spiritual seeker, I had an experience in meditation that clearly “told” me there is no god. As you might imagine, that was a startling and unexpected message to come to one who had spent his entire life in the pursuit of god. Yet, oddly enough, at that very moment existence became clearer than it had ever been for me. Everything finally made perfect sense. At the time, I felt it was the closest thing I had ever felt to the experience Jesus described as being “born again.” It was a complete change of consciousness. From that moment, I ceased everything “spiritual” I had been working on, thinking about or studying and for ten years I lived life with no god. It wasn’t at all the life my Southern Baptist upbringing told me atheists experienced. There was no anger, despair, sense of loss, or hopelessness. On the contrary, I was filled with more joy, fulfillment, and inner peace than any moment I ever experienced as a spiritual believer.
Ten years after my “conversion” to atheism, I felt an inner pull to start meditating again. It wasn’t something I felt would be the start of a new spiritual practice. In fact, I assumed it would be nonspiritual meditation for the sole purpose of more focus, clarity, and creativity. It turned out, however, to be a doorway into a new experience of spirituality, an opening of inner perception and enlightenment. It was that “place” I sought to be my entire spiritual life. And it came without effort, expectation, or desire. Imagine that.
One of the continual frustrations on my life-long spiritual journey has been the seemingly complicated and complex instruction given by teachers which often seem to lead nowhere other than a new state of inner confusion. When I finally reached that space of “enlightenment” it could only be described as the most simple awareness. Natural. Uncomplicated. Why was it necessary for me as a spiritual student to spend so much time trying to decipher spiritual puzzles, koans, and parables in order to reach this natural state of simplicity? Was there not a teacher somewhere who could have helped me wake up without pushing me further into darkness?
If anything, that is the main purpose and goal of this web site. To help provide a clear and simple path to those interested in “waking up.” Waking up to the nature of who you really are. Not to dish out a little bit of peace and happiness for your life journey but to help you realize that your own very nature is peace and happiness. That very nature is the background on which your entire life experience appears! I have no intention of assembling a new teaching. The world doesn’t need a new religion. My intention is to simply provide pointers in the way of thoughts, ideas, and examples that may prove helpful to your own spiritual life. These pointers may help shake your conditioned mental foundations and open new insights leading to your own awakening. It is my intention and hope that you too experience the beauty, simplicity, and infinite wonder of the reality which you are.