There comes a time when you feel that you want more out of life.
Achieving materialistic goals becomes less important or fulfilling. The things that you possess and indulge in, the activities that you previously enjoyed, and the people you spend time with, don’t give you the same happiness as before.
As you scrutinize your life and choices in search of a deeper satisfaction, you naturally and quietly find yourself on the “path” and begin your spiritual journey.
Your spiritual journey
One of the first things that you may do is to clean up your home and work space. When you make life changes, you can’t help but want to clean up your physical space too.
You gradually cut back on things and activities that are not in alignment with your new goal of growing spiritually. For example, your interest in shopping, clothes, shoes, cars, late nights, parties, the latest gadgets, and traveling starts to dwindle.
You do your utmost to nurture positive relationships with others while honoring yourself. You discretely withdraw from people who don’t reflect your values and form meaningful relationships with people who do.
You turn to spirituality or religion. You begin a personal practice which may include spiritual study, prayer, and meditation. You keep your body healthy through regular exercise and by making better food choices. You may cut back on or avoid meat and alcohol.
You are more careful of maintaining integrity in what you think, say, and do. What others think of you is not as important as being able to live up to your own conscience.
These are just some of the things that may happen as you embark on your spiritual journey. As you re-vamp your life, you will have to face many obstacles.
You may notice that people around you may not be happy or supportive. They may mock your decision and discourage you from making the changes that you want.
It’s easy to be swayed or discouraged by others when you’re starting out—especially if you are still a little unsure about your own motives and methods. When this happens, hold onto your faith and quietly keep walking your path.
You must have faith in…
- your goal of finding lasting happiness through spiritual growth,
- God or a higher power to give you the strength, wisdom and courage to stay on track, and
- yourself and your ability to take the necessary steps.
Keeping faith—a story from the Ramayana
On keeping faith, there is a little story within the larger story of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. The Ramayana narrates the deeds and achievements of Rama, considered an avatar—an embodiment of the supreme divinity. Divinity takes on a human form in order to uphold morality and the noble way of life when unrighteousness begins to threaten it.
Rama was the oldest son of a king who had three wives. To honour a promise his father made to his step-mother who wanted her own son to be crowned as king, Rama agreed to fourteen years of exile in the forest. Rama’s exquisitely beautiful wife named Sita insisted that she went with him.
The evil king, Ravana came to know of her beauty and wanted to have her for himself. He constructed a devious plan to lure Rama away, then kidnapped Sita and took her to his kingdom in Lanka (modern-day Sri Lanka that lies south of India).
When Rama returned, he was shocked to find Sita gone. He looked for help in finding Sita. He made friends with the king of a race of part human–part monkeys called the kapi-s who agreed to be of service to Rama.
The king sent out his monkey troops in all directions to find Sita. They only needed to provide news of her whereabouts. He warned the monkeys that he would have them beheaded if they came back without any news of Sita.
Hanuman, a powerful and intelligent kapi was one of the leaders in the troop going south. He walked behind them and kept up their morale and enthusiasm.
After many days of searching, the monkeys were tired, hungry and thirsty. They lost all hope of finding Sita. And they feared that they were going to die.
It was then that Hanuman came up from behind and took the lead in the search. In the distance, he noticed many birds flying into an opening in the ground ahead of them. He suspected there was food and water inside. He decided to lead the troops there.
They all entered the hole and found themselves in a huge cavern with a beautiful garden and a lake. They noticed a temple and a woman clothed in white meditating there. She opened her eyes when she heard them.
They respectfully approached her and told her about their mission and plight. She assured them that she could help. She told them to eat the fruits hanging from the trees, drink the water from the lake and come back to her for further instructions. Happily, they did as they were told.
When they returned, she said, “Sit down and close your eyes. When you open them again, you will find yourselves outside the cavern. You will find Sita, you needn’t worry.” The monkeys closed their eyes and when they opened them… voila! They miraculously found themselves at the seashore.
There, they met an old vulture who told them that Sita was held captive in a garden across the sea in Lanka. Now that they knew where she was, the monkeys had to find a way of meeting her and bringing back some proof to show Rama and their king.
Hanuman had been blessed with great supernatural powers as a child. To ensure that he would not misuse them, he was made to forget them. They would lie dormant and come back to him when he was reminded of them.
Now at the seashore, one of the elders in the troops who knew about Hanuman’s history told him about his great powers. When Hanuman came to know of his latent abilities, he was inspired with great strength and courage. He grew to a ginormous size and flew across the ocean to Lanka. There he met Sita, gave her news of Rama and brought back one of her jewels as proof of their meeting.
The monkeys were overjoyed that their mission had been fulfilled. They happily returned to Rama and their king with the good news.
Later, with the help of the kapi king and his army, Rama invaded Lanka, killed Ravana and brought Sita safely back to him.
The hidden meaning of the story
This story is laden with hidden meaning. The monkeys in the story represent us, the spiritual seekers. Sita personifies the inner peace and bliss that we are all searching for. She is our ultimate goal. The monkeys’ quest for Sita represents our quest for spiritual fulfillment.
Hanuman stands for faith. It’s our faith that powers our pursuit from within. This is demonstrated in the story when Hanuman walked behind the troops.
When the monkeys became tired, dejected and lost faith in their ability to reach their goal, they allowed life’s challenges to defeat them. The hunger and thirst that they felt stands for those challenges.
This was when Hanuman took control and walked ahead of the monkeys. When meeting life’s challenges, we must step forward with faith, ready to handle what comes our way. When we do, we get a breakthrough, as represented by the hole leading to the hidden cavern.
The woman inside the cavern personifies a peaceful mind in meditation. Meditation brings a significant leap in our journey. This was seen when the monkeys closed their eyes and found themselves magically transported to the seashore.
Hanuman’s hidden powers represent our inherent potential that is invoked when we are inspired by our goal. When we tap into our potential, we can achieve great things.
As we grow spiritually, we mature and gain a higher inspiration in life. There’s no turning back to our old habits and values. We have to keep moving forward.
There are challenges to meet and obstacles to overcome. As we persevere with consistency and faith, we slowly start tapping into a deeper, more satisfying joy. Finally, we will gain the enduring peace and happiness that awaits us at the end of our spiritual journey.
To learn how to prepare yourself for your spiritual journey, read: Do you have the qualities of a true spiritual seeker?
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