A little while ago I wrote a post called “Ego Is Not The Enemy”*. I wanted to break down this assumption that we can make the spiritual path into something so simple as defeating an all-encompassing enemy – an enemy like that which the concept of “ego” sometimes equates to. I want to go into an aspect of this now. The bit about making the spiritual path “simple”.
*I wrote it a month or so ago and posted it yesterday so I could have a sense of continuity for this post.
The mind would love the spiritual path to be simple, sometimes, because it’s something it can hold onto, it’s something that gives it a sense of control. There’s just one solution, or a few easily understandable solutions, and what’s more the mind has them all! Oh, joy. Haha. Of course it’s not that way. The spiritual path can’t be contained within any one set of words. It’s bigger than that, more expansive than that, and more to the point, it’s just not anything that can be boiled down like that, because spirituality is intimately related to that which precisely is beyond words.
One of my favourite authors, Richard Rose, talked about the pathless path. This is the path which appears before you when you’ve finished what pre-made paths can do for you.
Imagine an empty plain. There’s no path laid out before you, no map. You know what you seek is on the other side of that plain. You can walk fine as the Earth is firm and accommodating to your feet. You’ve no choice but to give up the sense of security that would come from understanding exactly what to do beforehand. You have to find your own path. Every step you take will be chosen spontaneously in the moment, not given to you by others. If you can’t accept that, you can turn back, but don’t try to fool yourself that you’re getting to the other side of the plain any other way.
That’s how spirituality goes. There are premade paths that can help you for a time. But when you’re done with them, when you finally realise they can do no more for you, only the pathless path will take you where you need to be.
Need I say that there is no more fighting against the enemy of “ego”?
No other fixed belief will necessarily serve you. You’ll need to be able to change your beliefs again and again while you’re walking the pathless path. Sometimes you’ll need to be able to release the idea of having any belief whatsoever.
There are also no more certain rules or rituals that can take you there. Meditation? Could work, but then again, maybe not. Prayer? If you say so, but why not try a year of atheist spirituality just for fun too? Mantras? Give ’em a try, but don’t hold onto them too hard. Vegetarianism? If you want. Probably won’t make you a saint by itself though. Love? Yes, but what if you don’t know what love is? Could you evolve more by giving up attachment to that word? What if you gave up on looking for love until you found out what love actually is? Well, try anything, try everything if you want to. Just do everything with the question in mind, “How can I evolve most?”… Or, “How can I create my truth most?” Maybe you’ll even question the concept of personal evolution. (I recommend you do that at least once). Maybe you’ll not have a god-damn idea what you’re doing, only that you’re doing something, and you’ll only know that because you can observe it.
That’s what I mean by the pathless path.
It’s scary. Most people run away from that feeling. That’s understandable. Ready-made paths give us a sense of security. But they are also often our prisons. Our treadmills. We can become little mice spinning the treadmills forever, thinking we’re getting somewhere.
It’s only if we are ready to go down the ready-made paths, and then go off them, try different paths, and finally make our own pathless path that we can find true completion.
No one can really follow us down that path. We could make a ready-made path for those who need one. Or we can just inspire those walking their own pathless path.
No-one will ever walk a ready-made path to Nirvana. Only if they take their own steps will anyone ever get anywhere worth getting to.