Your Life's Greatest Challenge: Making the Decision to Be Free
"The greatest human quest is to know what one must do in order to
become a human being."
I know in each moment I am free to decide
You have been facing the wrong way! The most important insight you can have is to realize that you have been facing the wrong way for the better part of your life.
Take a moment, right now, to experience what I mean. Picture yourself in any position that you like. Standing, sitting, lying down, whatever is easiest for you to imagine. Now look at that mental picture of yourself. What you see, in this exercise, is a you who is always looking away from yourself. Always looking outside of yourself. You are facing the wrong way!
Now imagine being able to shift around and face the opposite direction. If you could in some magical way do so, then you would be facing inward.
This is not some form of mental gymnastics in which you simply imagine yourself turning around and facing inward. I am suggesting a way of knowing your spiritual identity. I am suggesting you meet the challenge and take the path of your sacred quest.
We've all been taught to look outside ourselves for sustenance--to look beyond the self for power, love, prosperity, health, happiness and spiritual fulfillment. We've been conditioned to believe we get life's bounty from somewhere outside of ourselves. But it's possible to reverse our gaze from outward to inward. And when we do, we find an energy we've sensed but not previously identified.
There dwells within all human beings a divine energy. The power of this energy permeates our entire being and permits us to perform every function in the vast repertoire of human thoughts and behaviors. There are two aspects to this divine energy.
The outer aspect causes the heart to beat, the lungs to inflate and the senses to function--it essentially keeps our physical bodies alive. The inner aspect of this energy is dormant, but it can be awakened.
This inner universe is vaster than the outer universe. Inner joy makes all joy that is experienced in the world of the senses seem meaningless. When the divine light within you is experienced directly, it adds a radiance to life unlike anything that can be described with words or pictures.
When you discover your sacred self, you awaken this dormant inner energy and let it guide your life. The word most commonly used to describe this inner force is "spiritual."
When I talk about spirituality and being spiritual, I am describing an attitude toward God and the inner journey of enlightenment. I am speaking of expanding the godlike qualities of love, forgiveness, kindness and bliss within ourselves.
In my interpretation, spirituality is not dogma or rules. It is light and joy and focuses on the experience of love and inner bliss, radiating those qualities outward. I call the journey to discover your sacred self your "sacred quest."
Defining Your Sacred Quest
The primary energy that you have been using all your life is the outer energy. This outer energy is life sustaining but does not provide the sense of fulfillment and bliss that we long for.
In his book Mystery of the Mind Swami Muktananda describes what the direct experience of divine energy is like:
One day this light will explode, and you will see it everywhere. You will see the entire universe existing within it. The divine light of Consciousness will begin to fill your eyes, and then wherever you look you will see it.
You will see its radiance in people, in trees, in rocks, and in buildings. You will see the same consciousness rising and falling in every wave of thought and feeling that passes through your mind; wherever your mind goes you will find your own inner Consciousness, the creator of the world.
You will see that the entire universe is contained within your own Self. You will know that everything--all the infinite modifications of the world--is nothing but your own play. You will realize that it is you who are being reflected everywhere and that it is your own reflection that passes before you all the time.
You have within yourself this power of transcendence over the ego-dominated life. You can turn around and face inward, directly contacting your spiritual nature. You can then live each of your days, regardless of what you may be doing, with the sense of bliss that comes from being on the path of your sacred quest.
Making that light explode for yourself involves understanding who you are and what it is that you are doing here in this thing called your body, on this place called earth, at this point in your life.
A Unique Look At Your Life
The starting point to your sacred quest is understanding that the universe and our participation in it are not haphazard things.
Intelligence flows through everything in the universe, and has had many names. It causes the planets to orbit, the galaxies to stay in place, the seedlings to sprout, the flowers to open and you, yes you, to breathe and walk and think.
This invisible intelligence is in everything and it is everywhere. You cannot hold it or see it or smell it. But you know that it is there.
Outer energy, which controls matter and the physical world, is finite. This means that there is only so much oxygen, hydrogen and carbon. There is nowhere to go for more of these when we run out of them. All of the physical trace elements, identified by scientists and studied by schoolchildren everywhere on the planet, are finite.
Everything in our manifested world is made of these elements that exist in a finite amount. I like to think of all of our physical material as continually being recycled. Since we only have so much of this "stuff," it must constantly be put back into use when it changes from one "thing" to another "thing."
The drop of iron that is in your blood today is a part of the total iron supply. Obviously it was someplace else before you were conceived. Fifteen million years ago it might have been part of an iron ore deposit in Afghanistan. Today it is part of the outer energy that is you.
And so it is with all of the physical particles in the universe. A finite supply, continually being recycled. Material particles in one form, going back into the earth, and recycled as something else. Like one particle of magnesium from a sword showing up later in the femur of a panther.
Emily Dickinson wrote a stanza, "The Single Hound," describing this phenomenon. It is far more alluring than any prose I might use to make this point.
This quiet dust was gentlemen and ladies,
And lads and girls;
Was laughter and ability and sighing,
And frocks and curls.
This passive place a summer's nimble mansion,
Where bloom and bees
Fulfill'd their oriental circuit,
Then ceased, like these.
The physical you that we can see and touch is made up of the same stuff that everything else is made of. Yet you are different than the things outside of yourself.
To comprehend this, consider the four categories describing the manifested world: mineral, vegetable, animal and human. If we were to take a sample from each of these categories, pulverize them and put the powder into separate containers for lab analysis, the report would show no discernible differences. The mineral, vegetable, animal and human samples all comprise the same raw materials. Yet all of these samples differ from one another in an invisible, beyond-the-physical manner.
The differences, however, are not in the physical makeup of things. The differences are in what we will call awareness. Each category has a different level of awareness:
Mineral. The mineral world includes all of the things that you see around you. To the unfocused eye they just lie around and do nothing. You can look at a rock and it will not do a thing, even if you stare at it forever.
So we say that minerals, while made of the same physical matter as we are, have very little awareness. (I say "very little" because to a quantum scientist who studies things at the subatomic level and thinks in terms of billions of light-years, minerals are fascinating. When examined at the subatomic level they are alive, dancing and changing endlessly.)