Trying To

Religious missionaries try to make others adopt their belief systems, sometimes in brutal, violent ways.

As well-intentioned as these individuals might be — thinking that by doing so the state of the world will be improved, or God's will fulfilled — the approach could not be more misguided, and serves as one of the clearest examples of the pitfall of the "try to" attitude, which can be a major stumbling block.

If you are working in some relationship to a concept of God, walking a spiritual path, practicising yoga, and the like, you will notice a theme start to emerge as your practice unfolds—surrender.

Spirituality asks you over and over again to surrender. To give up your concepts of right and wrong. To give up effort and personal will power. To give up your identity. To give up trying to make yourself and the world a better place.

It does this not because these things are inherently wrong but because it is delivering to you what you want—abiding peace and knowledge of the truth.

You begin to learn that nothing is lacking in this moment. How can the moment be different than it is right now? Does that not make it perfect and in a certain kind of harmony?

You understand that nothing needs doing in the strictest sense of the word. You move more into the "being" state of mind, where your life is governed by flow, more than action.

One truly steeped in the knowledge of God does not, and cannot differentiate between friend and foe, no more than she can differentiate between plant and animal.

She sees only unity and oneness. And the power of this knowledge and the healing aura it radiates, is sufficient to dispel any so called darkness nature has deemed unfit to serve.

If we are trying to do anything, we have forgotten who we are. Our trying to attempts are really our attempts to remember who we are. Unfortunately, they often involve other people, causing stress, drama, and confusion, and further external seeking for answers.

But, we need sources of frustration to turn us inwards towards the truth.

Be Impersonal

Ego makes everything personal.

My life. My family. My home. My car. My job. My health. My death.

One way to look at the ego is as if it were a seemingly impenetrable wall, creating two sides. On the one side is what you refer to as "you" and, on the other, everything else that's "not you."

The ego is the root cause of separation, and so the root cause of the vast majority of pain and suffering in the world.

The ego is only concerned with itself. It is singularly concerned with its own preservation. This makes the overwhelming experience of life personal. My desire. My problems. My happiness. My sadness.

"I" always comes first.

The issue, of course, is that we are not our egos. We are only identified with them on the level of thought. We are dreaming to think there is separation between ourselves and everything else. We are dreaming to think our happiness can exist on a mountain of dysfunction. We are dreaming to think we can indefinitely keep our heads buried in the sand of ignorance.

More, we are soul—spiritual beings. Sooner or later, we start to rebel against the ego and its ways. Its concept of happiness begins to feel cheap. We tire of the incessant drama it creates. Most of all, we tire of the extremely limiting experience of life it offers.

We turn towards spirituality. Yoga. Meditation. Gurus. Paths of prayer and reflection.

Our soul knows what needs to be done. The wall of the ego must be destroyed to help us escape from the personal experience of life, and move towards the impersonal experience of life.

"I, me, and mine" does not exist in the impersonal experience of life.

I am me but I am also this tree, this rock, this bird. Separation ends.

With the end of separation comes the end of competition, escalation, and all manner of warfare.

Abiding peace relies on seeing the other in I and I in the other, no matter who or what the other is.

Feel Your Pain

Pain is a gift.

It lets you know something is in need of attention.

It tells you to slow down, get present, and consider the choices you are making.

Pain is inexorably linked with spiritual healing processes. You can't have one without the other.

That is why spirituality — truth — is not for the feint of heart. First darkness, then light.

Because pain is an unpleasant experience, we tend to try and medicate it away, or treat it as a problem to be solved. Certainly, there are forms of it where we need to do just that.

If you find yourself in a dark night of the soul, recently separated, in between jobs, and the like, you do yourself a disservice to try and remove the uncomfortable feelings being visited upon you.

Transitory states, like the caterpillar becoming a butterfly, are the most painful and uncomfortable. This is when we most go seeking help from the outside.

What would you tell the caterpillar if it got to complaining? You'd tell it to be patient. You'd tell it to relax. You'd let it know everything is alright and nothing needs doing.

It is no different with us.

To feel your pain is to embrace your humanity and dignity. It is what will guide you to the next step, and the one after that. Follow it, as you would a light.