Sometimes I do wondered why on earth am I writing these stuff on my own blog considering that spirituality is not something for anyone, unlike entertainment, personal life or even food. But having said that, isn’t spirituality is what life all about? When I was asking my wife’s physician this morning whether he will still be doing the yearly Lunar New Year pilgrimage to China to update his professional skills in chinese medicine, he answered that he wont but instead going into some kind of a retreat to know himself better. He said it is always a joyful journey in knowing oneself.
I am glad he said that as majority of our spiritual journey, including mine, is filled with challenges and trepidation. Sometimes it take numerous years to finally come into deeper understanding of what we are spiritually pursuing. Prior to that, the journey can be filled with trials, tribulations and errors. But often than not, ignorance makes us think that we are spiritually higher than others until we wake up from it years later. To enter a spiritual path is like entering a forest of roses – where thorns await the passerby. One can either give attention to the roses, to the thorns or to both.
There are some who come into spirituality after an unresolved crisis or illness. It is like a wake-up call for them to seek further clarity or understanding on how to resolve their issues amicably. Yet there is another type of people who come into spirituality after going through meaninglessness in life. By the way, it is rather interesting to observe that there are quite a number of people who think that meditation or retreat are only for those who are seriously wrong or mentally unwell. To them meditation is a treatment for mental disorders.
There are lots of myth going around what meditation is. Fortunately, Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn has done a great service to the world by introducing meditation into the mainstream healthcare in US during the 70s and has now been accepted as an important healing modality. Mindfulness meditation, though originated from Buddhism, has nothing at all to do with religion except a way of developing quality states of mind. It is about addressing the pain and suffering of the nature of mind. I trust most major faith are towards this direction. Beyond that, mindfulness meditation also offers a way into deeper mental freedom and mental peace.
I remembered once my meditation teacher said that it is not so important to meditate as to recognize what ideas are we running in our mind all the time. To him that is meditation. It is not about sitting cross-legged, closing the eyes, and controlling the mind. On the contrary, meditation is about understanding the mind through continuous mindfulness and observation, without needing to change our life routine. What is only required is the training in directing our attention inwards instead of outwards. Overtime we would naturally be compelled to change our lifestyle rather than being forced into changing it, as when we become more aware of ourselves we would be able to recognize and appreciate what is essential and inessential to our peace of mind.
And that makes the difference between spirituality and religion. Religion is about form. Spirituality is about essence – our inner beingness – that is basic to all humankinds, irrespective of race, culture or color. Religion shows us the way to our beingness, our practise of the way brings us into realizing our beingness, our own spirituality. Without applying and practising what we know, religion is as meaningless as another knowledge that clutters the mind. Yet there are many who comes into spirituality without entering into any form of religion.
The journey is pretty a personal matter and thus there is no reason for rush and quick fix. When conditions are ripe, everything will fall into its own place, whether one likes it or not, simply because we are all Nature – having its own flow. Listen to your heart.