Along the path, you might find yourself caught up in…
- An overwhelming sense of being right.
- This is quite dangerous. Let’s look at an example. Perhaps the human animal that you have the great fortune of witnessing and caring for has reached a point in its life where it regularly prays and meditates every day, two or three times a day. It also spends an hour or so reading scriptures and volunteers every week. It even reached the decision to abstain from eating meat and other animal products – motivated by compassion for the animals, the wellbeing of the planet, and its own physical health.
- Looking at the above example, the little human has reached several turning points in its life where it has developed what we might agree are healthy, even holy, habits. Yet, if that same human goes about the day tooting its own horn and meanwhile looks down upon others who it presumes are not meditating and praying daily or reading scripture, or looks down upon people eating animal flesh, what good is any of the spiritual practice?
- The purpose of spiritual practice is to grow us in lovingness and an awareness of the Presence of God and Truth. We don’t practice to build up our own egos, although admittedly a spiritually motivated ego can serve to kickstart the journey, but eventually the ego has to be transcended completely. Ideally, we are doing spiritual work for its own sake – not for any gain, even be it a spiritual gain.
- So, by all means, if you find your human pet practicing some austerity like eating only brown rice and dahl, and then you notice the ego mind beginning to condemn others who don’t have the same level of discipline or degree of sincerity that you do to practice such an austerity – then it is probably for the best to let go of the austerity and return to eating a variety of foods. The moment a spiritual practice starts to puff up our ego, we’ve got to be extra vigilant and remember the goal. The goal is love, peace, compassion, joy, unconditional happiness. It is not to look to live a supposed holy life while internally judging and condemning everyone and feeling miserable. Feeling good arises from remembering that we are all doing the best we can, and we are all at different points along the spiritually journey. We can have compassion for all beings, knowing that the experiences they are being offered are perfect for their growth. Judging is going in the opposite direction of the spiritual goal, so if you notice the mind starting to judge – watch out! Replace the judgmental thoughts with loving thoughts, and remember, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Also, Jesus’ words on the cross, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.” Truly we are all doing the best we can.
- Be aware whenever pride or spiritual vanity or ‘holier than thou’ attitudes arise, and replace them with love as soon as you can. Compassion, compassion, compassion. None are better, none are worse. All are simply on the journey together! We are all one. A loving thought is vastly more powerful than a fearful or hateful thought. Pride has to be surrendered to God. All of the Power is God’s, and it is only by Grace that we arrive at the place of good fortune to even be interested in Spiritual Truth – and chances are we have committed every error known to mankind prior to seeking the Spiritual Goal. Everyone with a human body is likely guilty of every possible ‘sin’ – at least on the mental level. It is just the nature of the mind – it is nothing personal. Don’t take it personally! Dissolve the ego with compassionate understanding. The ego is like a little animal that fears for its survival. Love it to pieces!