The spiritual path is not a journey in time and space. It is a journey in consciousness. —Swami Chinmayananda
We are spiritual beings on an evolutionary journey from separation to oneness. It takes us from the fear and sorrow that comes from feeling separate and different from others to a limitless freedom and joy that rises from embracing our essential oneness.
It is not a physical journey in time and space, or one in which we change outwardly.
It is a spiritual journey in which we grow in our understanding of our source and our relationship with It. Religion calls this source God or the Creator, and spirituality calls it the Ultimate Truth or Reality.
Understanding our spiritual journey, identifying where we presently are in that journey, what we have to do to evolve spiritually, and putting in self-effort to advance our growth, will help us to gradually gain increasing happiness in our lives.
Journey from separation to oneness in 3 stages
We grow in three stages.
The first stage: In the first stage, there is a strong identification with the ego and the body. “My body is who I am,” is the underlying unconscious thinking.
As such, looking out for the security, comfort, well-being and preservation of the body is the main focus of life. Competing and winning over others and blaming them for the sorrows and problems in our lives is how we think and behave. We are upset by the smallest things and seem to be constantly facing difficulties. Our relationships with others are volatile and there are many arguments over differences in personality and opinions.
If we show care and concern, it is only directed to our immediate family members or people from whom we can gain some benefit in life. What happens to people outside of this small circle of doesn’t affect us in the least.
There is no motivation to work more than necessary. We work only to get a salary to sustain our everyday needs and wants. Seeking pleasurable experiences through the senses is the focus and goal of life.
If at all we believe in the existence of a higher power or God, our relationship with it is of separation. There is no connection. God is seen as the creator with great power sitting up above, somewhere far away and watching us without doing anything to alleviate our pain and suffering. Naturally then, we blame God for our problems when we can’t find anyone to blame them on.
This first stage of our growth is characterized by smallness and separateness.
The second stage: In the second stage, we expand our thinking and recognize that we are more than our bodies. We have emotional and mental aspects to our personalities that need to be satisfied too.
Working for money is no longer our sole motivation. We want to do work that is in alignment with our personality and natural talents and thus more fulfilling.
We strive to accomplish and manifest what we want in our lives through creative thinking, determination, focus and sustained effort.
Satisfying the senses alone does not make us happy. We want more and we begin to experience how giving to others, being kind and good bring us inner peace and greater happiness. We feel a greater connection and sympathy for others further away from people in our inner circle of concern.
We start to seek inner peace by cultivating purity of mind and by living fundamental values of life such as truthfulness, humility, kindness, self-control, patience, forgiveness, acceptance, compassion and so on. Our relationships become harmonious.
Many existential questions about God, the purpose of human life, how to end suffering and find happiness arise in our minds. We start looking for a higher purpose in life and embark on our spiritual journey.
We implement a daily spiritual practice and routine and begin to cultivate a relationship with source or God. We no longer blame anyone for our suffering and understand the Law of Karma and that there is a higher purpose to our lives. We connect with God or source through prayer, solitude, reflection and meditation.
As we do this, we grow in our understanding and grasp that since the source has created this world, it must also be present in it. Since it is in all, it must also be in each of us. We begin to start to feel the presence of God in our lives.
As we grow inwardly through our spiritual practice, particularly through meditation, our minds get purified, peaceful and single-pointed.
It is through a focused daily meditation practice sustained over a long period of time that we arrive at the next stage in our evolution.
The third stage: This is actually not a stage but the final goal of our lives. It is the goal of realising the source as our own inner essence. This is our true nature also known as the Self. This Self is not localized but the same one Self everywhere in all things and beings.
By rediscovering the Self, we arrive at the end of our journey—the realization of the oneness of all life.
Our spiritual journey from separation to oneness
In summary, the journey from separation to oneness begins with the mindset, “The world is separate from me. I have no connection with others or God.”
We then embrace a larger outlook and think, “The world is the whole and I am a part of it. God is my creator, and I am a part of God.”
Finally, we outgrow both these stages and arrive at the final goal wherein we rediscover that we are neither separate from the whole nor a part of it but the whole Itself. “I am ONE with the world and its source. I AM THAT.”
After very many, many lives we reach this rare state of perfect oneness. It is in this state wherein we gain the highest happiness and fulfillment in life. Why? You may ask. This is because once you know that you are in all and everything and everyone is in you, what more would you need or strive for? You would already be it.
There would be nothing more to do, nothing more to know, and only a reveling in the bliss and peace of your own eternal, blissful divine nature.
This is how we evolve from sorrow and separation to the highest bliss and the essential oneness of life.
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