Approaching Spiritual Work

The idea of the heavenly evokes images of white clouds, bright lights, choirs of angels in flowing white gowns, and harp music chiming in the background.

To many, the goal of spiritual work is unconditional love, joy, and peace. The hidden assumption is that we should exhibit these qualities the moment we step foot on a spiritual path.

Many, however, find the opposite is so: the moment we commit to “spiritual work” we experience increased pain and suffering, a torrent of negative emotions flowing from multiple, sometimes hidden, directions. Striving for positive emotions (like compassion) often bring it’s opposite (like anger). Many have discovered that the more loving they try to be toward others, the more reasons they find not to be loving.

While this might deter some potential seekers from the Path, it’s actually meant to encourage. It’s common to think that spiritual work is pleasant all the time; it’s also common to discover that this isn’t so (after all, it’s called spiritual work for a reason). Continuing on one’s Path after this discovery is the mark of the devoted seeker.

Cloud Removal as a Path to Transcendence

Numerous spiritual teachers like David R. Hawkins say that the sun is always shining; we need only remove the clouds. The clouds represent our psychological and spiritual work. The sun is the Light that we are (the Self, with a capital “S”), only realizable when the clouds are removed. Our clouds are many: negative emotions, poor habits and tendencies, false identifications, addiction to our minds and thinking, and so on.

Examining, understanding, and dissolving these clouds represent the core of serious psycho-spiritual work. That’s why it’s work. Once this is accepted as given, we can approach our darker side with courage, forbearance, and patience. Then, situations that trigger our negative emotions, for example, become opportunities to develop instead of reasons to feel bad about ourselves, getting discouraged about our “lack of progress.”

The problem comes not when we’re experiencing negative emotions, it’s when we’re not aware of our emotions and are projecting them onto others.

We might say that events that trigger our darker side are vital to our spiritual progress. Through every upset—every time life throws us something unexpected and unpleasant—we can feel grateful for the opportunity to grow, to remove more clouds.

So instead of offering you a safe and smooth ride through life, perhaps today I’ll wish you a bumpy, hazardous journey on your spiritual quest. Buckle up!