There’s a shift from healing and actively growing to a more steady measured growth on the spiritual path. In terms of growth, consider how fast a baby grows in the early months of his/her life. It’s said that by six months a baby will have doubled his/her weight, which is pretty amazing. Well, in the long-run, that kind of growth is not sustainable, and during that time period, that’s a lot of intensity for a baby to go through. So most of their focus is on eat, sleep, poop–that’s probably even a book title somewhere.
In terms of a spiritual awakening, I’m sure that some of you who are in that transformation or who have passed through it can see the parallels. A lot of your energy was absorbed in healing and then in those initial times of intense spiritual growth. But eventually, healing resolves and growth settles. People drop into a natural rhythm of growth, and it seems to be a more effortless and quieter longer term flow than the earlier transitional states. From that space, there are a variety of beautiful qualities that seem to emerge from people, and I felt like offering some thoughts on those today.
A lot of people are taught that they have to work hard to get things, and to be sure, the initial phases of healing and growth that people go through on their spiritual journeys can be challenging. Many times, people find old pain with which they’re deeply intertwined, and they have to untangle themselves from it. Then, they have to learn healthier ways of living. But along the way, the seeds of humility seem to be sown. The more you see how ignorant you were or how much suffering you were in, the more you realize how much you don’t know.
You realize a lot of things on this journey, and in those realizations, humility sets up shop. You realize how little you control in this world, and you realize how fast life can be taken from you or anyone else. As the ego dissolves, these are not disturbing truths. Rather, they become encouragements to embrace what is and to truly live. This humble living doesn’t require anything for you to be happy either. You are humble and grateful for being alive, and that humility continues to grow in new and surprising ways over time.
Wisdom is another one of the fruit trees that grow up in effortless spiritual growth. Because a person has done their inner work, seeing life clearly is so much easier. In truth, this clear sight is a result of seeing one’s self clearly. If you are not clear in yourself, your view of everything else will be skewed. Clarity and observation are part of the gifts of the spiritual work that you have done, and they lead to correctly seeing reality. That correctness allows you to engage with reality appropriately and offer useful advice. They allow you to understand what is actually happening and to act wisely.
Consider two people standing in the exact same place, and yet one sees fog everywhere and the other does not see any fog. The one without fog in the way of their perception can accurately tell the other person what roads to take and what roads to not take. The advice may seem wise or even prophetic, but in truth, it’s just the product of clarity. It looks amazing only in comparison to the immense ignorance (or fog) in which other people are immersed.
Over time, wise actions bear further fruits in a person’s life. Clarity, wisdom, and wise action continue to grow–almost on their own–and they have amazing impacts on a person’s life as well as the lives of others.
3. Loving Kindness
I’m separating loving kindness from true love to point towards the positive side of what people typically consider love. True love is the total embrace of what is. It is beyond feelings, and it is total and complete acceptance. As someone comes into this reality more and more, loving kindness tends to grow out of it. The more people let go of their conditions for being kind, the easier it is to be kind to more people and more situations. It also becomes easier to be kind to oneself.
This loving kindness then creates more effortless growth in the relationships someone engages in, the work they do, and many other things. That doesn’t mean people are always nice to you; this means you’ve subtracted a lot of your issues from the situation. Simply put, you don’t make things worse. Sometimes, you will intuitively see how to make things better.
Additionally, loving kindness tends to lead people to actively engaged with others through helping, service, and charity. These qualities are further fruits of inner work work that effortlessly grow out of loving kindness. So, this loving kindness fruit is also able to bear other kinds of fruit. Those fruits then bear further fruits of still different sorts.
In short, this kind of spiritual growth is truly amazing when you allow it to take you over.
2. Inner Peace
Inner peace is sought after by so many spiritual seekers, and yet few seem to find it. Instead, they tend to find glimpses of awakening and pockets of peace, and while those experiences are nice, they are not particularly stable. However, those who have done their inner work and are dedicated to true love/stillness/presence find inner peace as yet another effortless arising. It seems like inner peace is a kind of default setting inside human beings, but people have to learn to stop agitating and upsetting themselves.
Over time, it seems that inner peace becomes more and more available. It’s almost a kind of habit, but it’s a good habit at that. Yet, it is not achieved through control or forcing yourself to feel or think a certain way. It arises from the spaciousness that is always within you. It arises because it is the most conscious and logical way of engaging life. Inner peace arises because–in my opinion–it is the next step in our evolution as human beings.
I could have included compassion as part of loving kindness, but I felt like offering it as a stand alone because of how much compassion is needed for ourselves and for others. Ignorance and unconsciousness is powerful, and the more you are aware of the truth and how many people are lost in ego fantasy, the more compassionate a truly evolving spiritual person is. They become more compassionate because they now know how ignorant they were for so long. They become more compassionate because they know how hard it is to break free of things that they did not truly understand within themselves. Compassion just keeps growing and growing, and that too leads to very conscious action.
What compassion is not is permissive. It does allow us to hold people accountable for doing unkind or cruel things. But from the space of compassion, we do not need to inflict our pain onto other people. Inflicting our pain on others is like beating a dog for tearing up your favorite magazine. The dog had no idea of your preference, nor could the dog make any kind of rational decisions. Beating the dog doesn’t help either. But gently retraining the dog helps her to become more mindful–well, at least as much as a dog can be mindful.
It’s not a perfect metaphor, but it’s meant to point to the depths of unconsciousness people are stuck in. And it’s going to take a lot of compassion to guide others out of it. Thus, you have compassion because you also know how much work is required of others to break free of their unconsciousness.
The Gifts Keep Coming
The gifts of humility, wisdom, loving kindness, inner peace, and compassion are only the start. As I already mentioned, more gifts keep coming and coming. Truly, I mean inner gifts, but the external world may also offer things to you as well. The external gifts are never the goal, however. It’s the internal space that is key because the external world is random, capricious, and violent. Certainly there is a lot of good in other people too, and that tends to be drawn out of others by these qualities in you. It’s kind of like a virus, but in a good way. If you are offering loving kindness to others, others tend to want to offer it back.
In this way, you do shift a lot of the world around you, although you may often not realize how much. You also neutralize a lot of situations from getting out of hand or even violent when you are at peace with yourself. So some of the fruits and gifts that come your way are the things that didn’t happen. Those can never be measured, but you have received them.
So, for those of you who have dropped into this space of effortless spiritual growth, keep allowing and acting as you are intuitively drawn. Let the gifts keep coming.