Waiting for a Big "Ah-ha!" Spiritual Moment

spiritual slowness, hope valley, mountains, blue sky, snow-capped moments, spiritual progress, spiritual nature
It's come to my attention that many people have expectations of having big "ah-ha!" spiritual moments on their spiritual paths, and many people try to evaluate some kind of spiritual success by if they have them or not. I suppose this is to be expected given how much people focus on individual blissful experiences, and those experiences tend to get shared a lot through social media, books, and conversations. People also tend to focus on those particular stories of past or present spiritual teachers, and so the "ah-ha!" moment is given undo attention in its overall place on the spiritual journey.

Honestly, "ah-ha!" moments and other spiritual revelations and realizations are nice, but the excitement that comes with some of them is purely dependent on the ego. Many realizations don't have the same charge. Some are quite neutral because the ego is indifferent to it, and others upset the ego. A spiritual realization that someone has no clue who they are can be extremely upsetting for some people. It's still an "ah-ha!" spiritual moment, but it's not usually one of the ones that is wanted. So on top of seeking revelations, many people only want certain types of revelations. This has the tendency to block out discoveries and to get people stuck on the spiritual path.

In general, the attitude of waiting for something and the need to benchmark progress are ego issues that have to be addressed. So let's dive further into this topic together, shall we?

Neutral Discoveries and the Banal Ordinary Life

Perhaps, in addition to the way spiritual realizations are shared, Westerners are hooked on big events. Maybe the whole of humanity responds to big and exciting things more than small, ordinary things. I don't know. But I would say that people are accustomed to paying attention to things that have a lot of emotional charge or physical sensation. The stuff that moves along quietly tends to be ignored. There's an old saying here in America that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Well, on the spiritual path, we learn to pay attention to the whole of the cart and not just one whiny wheel.

In this way, the spiritual path includes a lot of neutral discoveries, and people learn to find peace with ordinary life. A student recently used the word "banal" to describe life, and that's a perfect word for it (The word banal is the same in Dutch as English, interestingly enough). The everyday life we live is ordinary. It's much the same as one day to the next. As we rest in the space of presence, we perceive the aliveness of each moment, but that doesn't mean this is a fireworks display sort of aliveness. It's a simple awareness of the newness of each moment while accepting the many ways that things are simple, ordinary, and mostly unexciting.

Simplicity and Spirituality: The Loss of Ego Complication

Sometimes, people are seeking spirituality as well as other experiences to give them a fun jolt of their own biochemicals. By this I mean, adrenaline is a jolt of biochemicals--it's stuff inside of us that we generally like feeling. There are other fun neurotransmitters and hormones, and people like this kind of excitement. It makes them feel good. So when the spiritual path is quiet and unassuming, it's easy for many to prefer to believe that there is no value in it nor progress arising. But really, they're looking at spirituality in the wrong way.

Evaluating Big Moments for Spiritual Progress

This leads us to the conversation about how the ego tries to define spiritual success. This immediately assumes that the ego knows how to properly evaluate spiritual success, but it does not. The ego is a lifelong prison cell inmate who is telling you how to get to Tahiti. This lifelong inmate has never been to Tahiti, and it has no idea how to get there. Sure, it's read some of the travel guides, but it generally has only read pieces of them--the pieces it prefers. That makes ego ideas about how to get there incomplete and usually misinterpreted. It also generally means that for most people to develop on the spiritual path, they need some outside perspective from others who have gone further into freedom.

And then an ego might say, "But hey, what about spiritual awakening? You talk about that all the time!"

Yes, I talk about spiritual awakening a lot on this blog post, and for many people, that's a big moment. It's a turning point, and it's a turning on point. It turns on the energy. But then the initial experience--be it blissful, peaceful, painful, or something else--ends. A lot of the path is then done by oneself, quietly grinding through issues. Sure, realizations come, and then the quiet, slow integration of what they mean goes on. If I could measure any of this, the big spiritual moments tend to be on the scale of 1 to 2% while the rest is dominated by dedication, discipline, inner work, and surrender. That 98% is vital, and it's why so many people get stuck. They were looking for constant euphoria or revelation, and they ignore the rest of the work. It's like expecting trophies without going to practice or playing one game of football.

Spiritual Sticking Points and Why People Like Being Stuck

Surrendering Judgment of the Path

A big piece of moving out of this stuck intellectual space is surrendering judgment. Try to let go of the idea that you need a big spiritual moment of some kind. Bring your attention back to the present moment--you know, that thing that's always here now. It generally gets ignored a lot because it doesn't shout at you. It's one of those banal spiritual truths that most spiritual seekers hear and then ignore because it's not exciting.

Seeking the Elusive Spiritual High

Additionally, this surrender to how your spiritual path is right now is the end of waiting, and waiting is all ego. It's a rejection of the present moment. The ego says, "I don't want what is here, now. I want something else. I want something in the future." Every now and again, someone gets a spiritual moment of some relevance too. But then that moment is gone. So now what? Do you wait for the next? Many people do. That gets them spiritually stuck in their development as well. They never want what is here and now; they only want some brief transitory experience that they think they can extend into a constant way of living and feeling. Desiring bliss is one of the worst desires on the spiritual path, and tons of spiritual people are stuck because of this desire.

Lost in Spiritual Bliss: Reclaiming Yourself from the Trap of Good Feelings

Now, Now, Now

It's so boring to hear a spiritual teacher harp on being here now. It's so banal and ordinary. The ego doesn't like it. Or it only likes it when things go according to its beliefs. Yet those beliefs are part of what leaches the life out of the present moment. There is an aliveness within ordinary life that is always here with us. There's nothing we need to do to attain it. We simply acknowledge it. With that acknowledgement, something opens up within us. Will it be a big spiritual moment? Maybe not. Maybe it only opens a little at time. A lot of people are very gradual in their path of becoming more conscious and more spiritually free. They're like lake water lapping at the stones on the shore. But if they stay persistent with this gentle grinding away of ego beliefs, they gradually reside in greater spaces of conscious awareness just as the rocks wear down into a fine, soft sand. This dissolution of ego may go so subtly and quietly that they don't realize it. It may be a spiritual teacher or friend who acknowledges their spiritual progress, saying years later, "Do you remember when you were so tense and closed-hearted? Now you are much more friendly and seem at ease in yourself?" Then the right kind of perspective is offered, and the student sees what their gradual steadiness has won them.

So particularly for my students and readers who are on this gentle path, I encourage you to honor it and not concern yourself with whether you're having a few, lots, or any big "ah-ha!" spiritual moments. The spiritual path does not require them for you to progress towards spiritual freedom or to be here now.

Be Here Now

Comments

Popular Posts