by Esther Veltheim
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the future.
– Rainer Maria Rilke
Ask twenty different people what the two little words spiritual process signify for them and you will probably receive twenty different responses. But, chances are quite a few of these explanations will contain the term becoming enlightened.
Spiritual process. Becoming enlightened. Being a spiritual person. Most anyone involved in alternative healing or any kind of yoga will have come across such terminology or even regularly use these terms themselves.
One thing is pretty certain. If your goal is to become enlightened, the belief you lack something will dog you. The opposite may also be the case. If your goal is to become enlightened it is possible you are resigned to the idea there is something you need to be getting rid of before that can happen. Maybe the ego, the me, your thoughts. Maybe all of that.
And then there are all the spiritual pathways one can take. And then there are all the different explanations about them.
And then there is what you feel inside. Maybe a deep frustration; a yearning; a sense of “This can’t be it!?”; “There has to be more!”; “What is life all about!?” …
If you relate to anything here, you are not alone. Spirituality is a subject that has baffled, intrigued, seduced, challenged, and driven people to the edge of madness, probably ever since it first came about.
There are so many wonderful teachings and teachers in the world who inspire and catalyze us on our spiritual journeys. The much beloved and renowned mythologist and master story teller, Joseph Campbell, called our spiritual journey the Hero’s Journey. And, surely, no better word can apply than hero to describe any of us journeying through this human life. Nothing is certain, nothing is predictable, nothing is sure. Even if we do not think of ourselves on a spiritual journey, just being human means we are engaged in a heroic journey.
From a BreakThrough perspective, the spiritual life signifies; the adventure of exploring what it is to be human and live this human life as fully as possible.
As you might know, there are four main paths of Yoga–Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga. These are spiritual pathways used by those undertaking the spiritual journey. Each one is differently suited to a particular temperament and approach to life.
Of the four pathways, Jnana–the path of knowledge–is considered the most simple and the most direct method of cutting through our misconceptions about self. As the word simple is the antithesis of easy, this pathway is traditionally the one less travelled.
Why jnana yoga is considered difficult and not suited to everyone is because it requires a sharp intellect; one that has the capacity to cut through self-misconceptions. To this end, jnana yoga might well be called the yoga of questioning. It is not that those involved in the other yoga’s do not pose questions, on the contrary. But the practitioner of jnana explores the questions themselves in a way that other pathways do not. It is the path of discrimination; seeking to differentiate as clearly as possible the real from the unreal.
Living in the Information Age as we are, never have human beings been exposed to such a flood of information. Any of us with a computer or smart phone or TV is open to being bombarded with information on an almost constant basis. Much of this information seems compelling, seductive even. Images, words, sounds, teachings, advertising … and the list goes on and on and on.
The benefits are many, but the dangers are equally numerous. The human system’s ability to adapt to this new way of living is being tested in every moment. Much of the time we are even unaware of the multitude of stressful electrical intrusions our systems are absorbing.
As is so often the case when our systems are stressed, we do what is easiest for us. We want immediate relief, and concern for the long-term consequences falls by the wayside. One of the most common coping methods we have in the Information Age is assuming. With so much information coming at us it is just easier to be like a sponge, take most of it in and save ourselves the time of questioning it.
In other words, never has there been a time when human beings are more in need of honing the ability to question. Never has there been a time when our life as human beings has been more in need of examining. Not because dark and difficult ages have not existed before. On the contrary, all the preceding ages also required tremendous human adaptation; the types of human adaptations that have brought us into this age, facing floods of information.
Surely, there has never been a time more pressing than this to learn the art of discrimination. And to this end, we need to learn the art of questioning. As small children, direct, simple, logical questions came easily to us. This means that it is in our nature to question directly, simply and logically. Somewhere along the way, we just became out of touch with this brilliant ability.
Between childhood and adulthood, intellect became an almost dirty word to many of us. We forget that clear thinking and clear questioning was once something we were really good at. It came naturally. This means it is an inborn gift none of us are deprived of. We simply need to avail ourselves of it.
This describes the work we do in BreakThrough.