Many people avoid spiritual matters simply because they don’t like the idea of being told how things work or what they should believe about themselves and their place in the universe.
In centuries past, living a spiritual life was, for many people, a simple game of follow the leader. Religious teachers would proclaim ‘the truth’ as they saw it, and their followers would tend to accept that ‘truth’ without questioning. An individual’s faith was therefore as much in the leader or in the external authority as it was in the validity of the ideas being taught.
Fortunately, things are quite different these days, and most of us prefer to reach our own conclusions about spiritual matters based on what makes sense to us as individuals. The 21st century is one which celebrates diversity in every sphere, and the ‘herd mentality’ of old is fast becoming obsolete.
One of the best things about creating your own spiritual path is that you get to fully embrace the concept of being the ultimate authority in your life.
Whilst you may freely explore the ideas, scriptures and teachings of existing traditions, you do not have to adopt any of those belief systems, either in whole or in part, unless you choose to do so. Instead, you can simply use your explorations to help you better define what you already know intuitively.
On some level, you already know all that you need to know to enjoy a rich and fulfilling spiritual life, and if you separate the sometimes skewed teachings of religious traditions from the original advice of their founders, you will find that this has always been the case.
‘Be a light unto yourself.’
According to the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, this is the advice which the Buddha, speaking towards the end of his life, gave to his disciples. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t any light outside of yourself, but that you shouldn’t rely on external lights to show you the way. You should, instead, light your own path.
In a similar vein, Jesus pointed out that:
‘… God’s Kingdom is within you.’
These five words, from the Bible (Luke 17:21) can serve to remind you that the treasure you seek has never been closer than it is right now. If you haven’t found it yet then it just might be that you haven’t been looking in the right place.
Look within yourself, and you will begin to discover a spiritual path which is uniquely yours. No two paths are the same because no two people are the same, so don’t expect your own path to slavishly adhere to any external standard of what it ‘should’ be like.
– Some of you will find spiritual fulfilment by sitting quietly in meditation, whilst others will prefer to pray, and still others will want to practice affirmations.
– Some of you will experience peace by connecting with nature, whilst others will achieve the same by spending time actively appreciating art, music or literature.
– Some of you may be inspired to use creative visualisation to help you achieve your goals, whilst others among you may want to study scriptural writings, set up a home altar or create personal rituals.
Your spiritual path is your spiritual path, so do not be overly concerned with how other people do things. You are the ultimate authority as far as your spiritual development is concerned, so enquire within, trust your intuition to guide you, and the rest will fall into place quite naturally.