Many people get seduced into thinking that if they are walking a spiritual path, they will obtain some sort of divine protection from anything that is too difficult and too painful. The fact is, the spiritual path is difficult. No matter how you slice it, it comes up difficult.
It’s good to know this from the start. Contrary to several New Thought schools, the spiritual journey is not a skip down a rosy path collecting buckets of bliss along the way as we magically evolve. Evolution is hard work. Spirit guide Spotted Eagle says, “The harder you work, the harder it gets”. He also suggests that bliss is overrated, perhaps because in terms of evolutionary growth, we get more mileage from encountering the challenges of life.
The spiritual path is difficult because rather than protecting you, it will drive you right into the heart of your issues. Here is your opportunity to evolve, and it requires you to face, not run from, your issues. During this process, be prepared to watch a part of yourself get torn to threads. It’s useful to understand that this is, in fact, the inauthentic part of you, the part comprised wholly of the beliefs/ideas/opinions/fantasies you have nurtured most of your life, but letting go of this part will be painful none-the-less.
If you want, you can wait a few more lifetimes. But why wait? Here are some guide posts and tools to help you along the way.
For those of you who are at a difficult juncture, just a little farther up ahead (oh, all right—after you trudge over Mt. Everest) you will discover something interesting about “difficult”. It’s a perception. Something is difficult only if you perceive it as difficult. Any “obstacle” on the path is only an obstacle if you perceive it that way. It all depends on what thoughts your mind is feeding you. You cannot change the event, but you can change your perception of it. You can change how you are going to dance with it. Experimenting with your perception will alter your experience entirely. No event that the universe places in your path comes with a Do Not Remove tag that says “DIFFICULT–OBSTACLE”. It is only your mind that puts that label on it, and you can remove it any time you want. The first tool then is to grant yourself the freedom to change and experiment with your perception of what crosses your path.
By the time you’ve trudged over Mt. Everest, much of your story, your belief system, your ego, and the thoughts you identified with all your life will have been torn to threads. It’s OK if they’re still hanging loosely all around you. Gather those torn threads if you want, and put them in your pocket, because even though the fabric of your old self can never be restored, it will probably be too painful to throw the threads away just yet. You will need to grieve each one, so take your time. Some pieces you can part with easily. With others, you’ll need to swim through what feels like an ocean of grief. There’s no way of short-cutting this process. Allow each thread its due. You must swim through your grief carefully, mindfully, lest you fall into self-pity or blame or guilt or shame or outrage during this process, and then have to begin all over again. Simply grieve what is lost, without going into a story. After you grieve cleanly, each thread will gently drift away. There is no hurry. The second tool then, is to grieve each belief, each agenda, each fantasy that your trudge over Mt. Everest has rendered useless and torn to threads.
When you are presented with your next mountain and look carefully at your perception of it, you will discover something else that will help you travel your path. Seeing it as “difficult” is not only a perception, it can also be loaded with judgment. Your judgment takes you out of the present moment and puts you inside a small box where you are blind. Trying to view the outer world through the narrow and distorted lens of your judgments will never allow you to clearly perceive what’s on your path and how you can best respond to it. Your judgment sits on top of a mountain of resistance. This mountain of resistance is of your own making, and it can loom larger than the ‘mountain’ the universe has put before you. When you resist what the universe has already created, you are taking on the universe, and that is a battle you will never win. It will tire your spirit and deplete all your physical energy reserves.
What to do? Let go of your judgments born of your agenda, your time schedule, your beliefs, your fears, etc. Give up your resistance. The universe has put a mountain before you—there it stands. It has already happened, so there is no point in resisting it. It is what it is. Until you learn acceptance, the spiritual path will wear you out. It is not the path that must change; it is you that must change. The more you relinquish your resistance to it, the lighter the going gets. All mountains are opportunities to lighten your load. The third tool is to give up your resistance.
In the final analysis, is the spiritual path difficult? It depends on where you’re standing at any given moment, and from which mountain you are looking. Just make sure you’re not standing on a rock that pretends it is easy. Difficult is a good place to start. Then, practice changing your perceptions, grieve what needs to be grieved, and lower your resistance. The path may not be easy, but you can learn to travel it with more ease.