There is one thing that remains the same before and after spiritual awakening and enlightenment: spiritual practice. Contrary to a prevalent belief in many spiritual circles, enlightenment isn’t an end, and stopping to practice doesn’t reflect any great achievement. On the contrary, spiritual practice as well as spiritual growth itself are endless. Stopping to practice is like saying: “Divinity has a limit – and I’ve reached it! I’ve understood it all!”
The Importance of Spiritual Practice
Look at all the great yogis and monks that have achieved tremendous depth and subtlety of enlightenment. You will find one thing in common: they practice and practice and practice! Some yogis practice most of the day in a cave for over 40 years until the end of their life. The Dalai Lama at the age of 84 still wakes up at around 04:00am every morning to perform his spiritual practice. His practice lasts for about 4-5 hours. How come then, if such great beings continue their practice so often, we got an idea it should end after awakening?
Truth is, there is no end to spiritual evolution. Divinity is truly unfathomable. You will never reach its end – because it has none! Moreover, why would anybody want to reach an end? The very fact there is no end, IS what makes this existence a true marvel. Practicing doesn’t imply you are lacking something, but rather shows the pure joy of eternal growth. It also reflects a mature understanding of the need for ever-growing refinement of being, soul and character. It is imperative to stick to your spiritual practice until your last breath. This is your anchor and compass for self-honesty, purity of motivation and an ever growing depth of realization.
The Marvel of Endless Growth
Do you remember being a small child and having this unending curiosity and hunger to know? There’s a deep truth in it. In essence what you are is Divinity wanting to explore its endless, unfathomable territory. Spiritual practice in the beginning of our spiritual path begins as a means to an end. As we mature it becomes a means to endlessness. It becomes an endless exploration, a deep dive into our infinite existence. And the deeper you go, the more unbearably beautiful it becomes. Life is a marvel. It has no end or limitations. Spiritual practice is a response of your heart to this irresistible love of knowing existence.
The wish to reach an end is usually a result of an unconscious reaction to the continuous suffering and challenges in life. You feel the burden of duty, the need for survival, the emotional hurt etc, and in reaction to that you want a final destination where everything is alright forever. However as your spiritual practice evolves, you transcend suffering and all of a sudden a whole new horizon opens. It is the marvel of infinite Divine Life and Divine Realization.
The Role of Spiritual Practice
So far we’ve talked about how spiritual practice doesn’t have an end and why. Now let’s look at what spiritual practice really is and what it is meant for. First and foremost we practice in order to be able to pierce beyond a very limited existence. Practice helps us push beyond our current boundaries. This applies to any practice. Be it in the gym, learning a new instrument or a new language. To go beyond our limitations we have to practice. This is a simple fact of life. Spiritual practice in specific is designed to take us beyond the gravitational pull of ignorance. This pull is deeply rooted in us. It is what makes us identify again and again with negativity and suffering. It is what makes us gravitate towards insignificant things.
As the practice evolves, we manage to become lighter and freer. Suddenly our spiritual energy can flow much more easily. At this point there is less suffering and every practice starts revealing a beautiful reality within. When spiritual practice ripens we overcome gravity and live a spiritual life very easily. We start knowing truly what we are and understand the secrets of life.
Perfecting Our Character
Another role of spiritual practice is the endless honing of one’s character. This is super important as it secures the moral backbone of the expression of the Inner Light. We should aspire through our practice to refine our personality and make it ever purer and kinder. This part of the practice is not less important, but is often neglected due to a partial understanding of what true spiritual maturity is. If your character is unstable, eruptive, moody, unreliable, dishonest, lazy and selfish, no matter how deep you’ll go in your spiritual practice, what you’ll manifest through your behavior will be distorted. It will also very often create damage to yourself and others.
Therefore one should always refine their character through practices of kindness, service, intelligent self-effort, self-discipline, self-humor, sensitivity etc. When these virtues become your nature, then your personality will be a worthy and reliable vessel for the Divine to manifest itself.
Endless Discovery and Evolution
Remember that child from before? As children we love adventures, fairy-tales and magic. It is so because it is natural for our Being and Soul to dive into its endless magical mystery. This is really our true nature. Loving new discoveries and growth is inherent in our Soul if we don’t block it. In the end, spiritual practice is a natural response to this primordial love to endlessly discover what hides within our infinite nature. This is why even yogis and monks that are deeply enlightened continue practicing until their last breath. They maintain their integrity of character and discover ever more magic within.