Challenges On The Spiritual Path (Part 1 of 2)
The spiritual path is not for the faint-hearted and it’s not for people who only look for ways to feel better, and it’s definitely a path of great challenges, sometimes deep despair and what can be reassuring to know is that even Jesus and Buddha went through their own spiritual challenges and temptations sent by God to test their commitment and faith.
When you read about and study great mystics and saints and other spiritually evolved human beings of our time and from history, you can see that their paths were not always filled with godly love and beautiful smiles and happiness.
Many of them struggled a great deal and most of them were tested to the core.
You can read about their process of ego death and dark nights of the soul when you study the books and poems by/of them and find that they are timeless as they can resonate with anyones spiritual evolution and development at any time in humanity.
The process is the same as it has always been, the only difference today is that we have each other in ways that wasn’t possible back then.
We are able to support one another and more and more people are in the process of waking up to reality today.
Jesus went through the 40 days and 40 nights in the desert where he was tested:
Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness (The devil being the ego)
Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Much of the same happened to Buddha too, when Mara (the demon=the ego) came and tempted him:
(First of all, Buddha struggled for seven long years for enlightenment before he declared himself defeated and surrendered and that was when he became enlightened; when he gave up his search).
Mara is the demon that tempted Buddha by trying to seduce him with the vision of beautiful women who, in various legends, are often said to be Mara’s daughters.
Mara personifies unwholesome impulses, unskillfulness, the “death” of the spiritual life. He is a tempter, distracting humans from practicing the spiritual life by making the mundane alluring or the negative seem positive.
The story goes that Buddha laughed at Mara while ‘not a single hair on his body was disturbed’.
Then he lifted his right hand and touched the ground calling on the very earth as his witness. This is the “earth-touching gesture” depicted in so many statues of the Buddha and signals the defeat of Mara and the Buddha’s complete awakening.
There are countless similar stories and life experiences not only from thousands of years ago, but still today – the very same processes that the spiritual path has.
The true spiritual path has nothing to do with personal development, it’s actually about the death of the person (ego); you may have heard the saying “die before you die so that you can fully live”? It is very true.
Spiritual awakening means the death of the ego, the person we think we are.
The ego (which is the devil/satan/demon etc in religion) is the obstacle we have to encounter on our spiritual path – it doesn’t matter how you put it; it is the one and only thing that ‘stands in our way’ because to realize that means the death of the ego and the ego will resist it with all it might, there’s no way out of that except for going through the processes.
And the truth is inevitable, at some point in our evolution we have gone too far into it to be able to turn around (when we have encountered Truth even for a millisecond, there’s no way we can ever turn our backs to is again, it’ simply impossible), even if we kick and scream our way through it – through it we go.
Continue reading part 2 here.