Spiritual paths have many twists and turns which can slow you down don’t be discouraged.
Spiritual paths resemble each other, each one is unique and demanding. To follow a spiritual path means to propose a specific goal and adhere to the path that leads to that goal.
Always see your Spiritual paths as the way to God Consciousness.
Choosing the Right Spiritual Paths
Even if many people have the same goal, there will still be many different approaches to it. The right approach must be carefully determined; otherwise you may begin one path or approach and encounter obstacles along the way that could be too difficult for you to tackle at a particular time.
Another path might be better and easier, even if it takes a little longer to arrive at the goal.
Determining the right spiritual paths
Determining which path is the best for you to achieve your goal is a very important decision in your life. Obviously, if you choose the wrong path, you could be stuck for many years, or you could lose the enthusiasm that is so necessary to continue onward.
All the spiritual paths have their difficulties, so it is important to choose the right one for you.
Let’s explore the many paths that you might choose as your personal approach if your goal is becoming one with your Higher Self.
What is your goal?
First you need to determine if your goal really is to become one with your Higher Self. Instead, your goal may be to achieve God Consciousness, and even though both goals are similar, they are different in approach.
For instance, if your goal is to become one with the Higher Self, your concentration and practice will be around strengthening your link to the Higher Self and consciously bringing it into your everyday life. Obviously, if you achieve this goal you also will achieve God Consciousness.
If your goal is to achieve God Consciousness, your practice will be very different.
You might pursue other spiritual paths with specific disciplines, or you may become a Buddhist, or a monk in any of the recognized religions. Again, when you achieve God Consciousness, you will also become one with your Higher Self, but the focus will not necessarily be on utilizing the Higher Self in most of your interactions with others and in the world.
If you decide to pursue this particular 4 paths of Yoga to become one with the Higher Self, then, again, you’ll choose the appropriate spiritual paths for you to achieve this goal.
This chapter outlines the spiritual paths.
The outline is flexible. For example, at any given time, you may begin one path and later realize that another would be more appropriate for you at that particular time in your life.
You might then change your direction and start at another level on the other path. The first path may be too much work, so you might choose to change to a lighter path and then later discover that you are in a better place to return to the more rigorous path.
The spiritual paths can be changed
It is important to realize that the spiritual paths can be changed as long as your movement is always forward.
The spiritual paths can change and your pace can change, but if you stop completely and rest too long, you will lose the momentum needed to continue.
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Remember, it is not how much you do, but how you do it.
If you are moving forward but feel stressed and unhappy, that will also affect your achieving your goal. Often you do not understand the ups and downs that are part of every path.
You see a hill as too difficult when it could be easily climbed, and you think it is much too long when actually, it is short.
At times a path will have clouds that are so dense you cannot see where you are going. At other times the clouds may be obscuring something very minor and you are fooled by their darkness.
The tendency to give up on a path is often the inability to pace yourself properly, to judge just how much you are capable of doing.
Sometimes a person will take on too much and become too tired to continue.
The reverse is also true: Sometimes a person will take on too little when capable of doing much more, and as a result, the movement is too slow. This is why choosing the right path is so important. It is also important to not, in any way, compare your path to someone else’s.
Keeping your spiritual paths sacred
Each person is unique and has many skandhas that they must work through, develop, or let go. Because of this, you will find two people on the same path moving at different rates and encountering different obstacles.
One person might climb the hill quickly; another must do it slowly and stop to rest along the way. Then, that person may jump over a chasm, leaving behind the quick climber who is too afraid to jump.
People always talk and compare themselves to others in a group. In the past, these teachings were given one-to-one and the person was told to not discuss what was given with anyone else. This kept the path a secret one, but as we move into the New Age, the emphasis is on developing community, and in any community secrets are difficult to keep.
I suggest that you be guarded about your path and do not discuss it with others at length.
It does not have to be a secret, but it should be kept sacred to you.
Some people are able to tackle the more difficult paths and succeed, and others will still succeed, but it may take them much longer.
All spiritual paths reach the same goal
All paths reach the same goal in this teaching. Remember this always, and do not compare your journey with anyone else’s.
Again, some people will change paths. Do not wonder why, or judge them. Changing a path may be the correct decision at a given time.
When you choose a path, do so carefully. Read about the paths once, twice, many times before meditating on them.
Take time to answer the questions I will give you. Look at everything that is happening around you and decide only when you definitely know which path is right for you.
Use your Higher Self as much as possible and be aware when you could be listening to your desire body instead. Keep questioning your decision until you are completely sure about it.
When you are certain you have made the right choice, put it on a shelf for at least a month. Then, take it down and test it again with your heart.
Finally, take your decision to your teacher if you are working with one, and check it out.
If you have chosen wrongly, go back and meditate about why that happened. How did you misjudge yourself? What has caused this? Look at core beliefs about yourself. Most of all, do not be judgmental. Be careful to stay open and flexible.
Products For your Spiritual Paths
Spiritual paths in relation to different personalities.
If you are an extrovert and must spend a lot of your time in the world interacting with different types of people, you will find certain spiritual paths more desirable, as they would fit better into your mundane life.
If you are more of a loner, spending less time with others, you will find several spiritual paths that will best fit your solitary needs.
You may also be a mixture, needing to be active in the world and sometimes desiring solitude. Of course, there are those who would like more solitude but cannot find the time to be alone. Others may wish to be more active in the world but due to circumstances must be more of a hermit.
Exercise One: Look at your life.
Which one of these descriptions is closest?
1. You work full time in an office and have family commitments in your home life or are active socially in the evenings with little time for solitude. If this is the case, do you like your life? Would you want more time alone?
2. You work full time and spend your free time primarily alone. If this is the case, do you like your life? Would you like to socialize more and have more friends, or would you want a lover or family?
3. You long to live alone and not see people, yet you’re stuck in a relationship or with people for whom you are responsible. Or, your work takes you into relationships that you prefer to not be in.
4. You work at home, long to be working with people, but you must continue as you’re doing because you love the work. When you are not working, you spend as much time as possible with others.
5. You work independently, love being alone to work, and spend your free time socializing.
6. You work independently and love to be alone both when you work and also during your free time. If you live with someone, it must be someone like yourself: You would see very little of each other.
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The above are just guidelines to go by. Assess your life and your preferences and needs carefully.
Meditate on the ideal situation you would like for yourself.
For example, you may be living in a situation that causes you to be in relationships that make you want to be alone, but do you really want to be alone? Look at your life and, first, write down the work aspect that is mandatory, and then write down the social aspect you prefer.
After you have determined this, take time to meditate on the ideal situation you would like for yourself.
What is missing in your life?
Do you really want more free time to be alone?
Would you prefer to be in a relationship instead of living alone?
What is the ideal living situation for you in both work and social areas?
Exercise Two: Step back from your feelings and thoughts
Ask yourself the following questions:
1. If I could have more time alone, would I want to spend it developing myself spiritually?
2. Would I prefer to have more time in my life to develop relationships with others?
3. Are my spiritual needs being met?
4. Is there something I have not done that is hanging over me?
5. Do I feel fulfilled in my vocation, or do I need to change it?
6. Are there relationships that I neglect?
7. Do my relationships fit into my spiritual life?
8. Is my spiritual life always separated from my everyday life?
9. When I am alone, do I feel happy?
10. Does being alone make me feel uneasy or unfulfilled?
11. If I love someone, do I want to be with the person all the time?
12. Can I have freedom in a love relationship?
13. Am I in a relationship that limits me spiritually?
14. When I am alone, how do I entertain myself? With TV or reading, Internet, etc.?
15. Can I sit quietly and contemplate without feeling that I need to be doing something else?
16. Is my life too full of outside activities?
17. When I find myself with others, can I enjoy myself?
18. Do I sleep a lot?
19. Do I prefer being alone and exclude people as much as possible?
20. When I work with others, do I enjoy the interaction?
21. Do I enjoy being in a group?
22. Am I silent in a group or do I take an active role?
These questions are to help you determine your lifestyle and your personal needs. What makes you happy? What make you feel love?
Perhaps when you meditate about someone, you feel more loving than when you are with the person, or vice versa. Or, you may have to be with the person you love or you don’t feel loved.
After you have determined the ideal lifestyle that makes you happy, you can determine the best spiritual paths to pursue.
Obviously, if you have a great need to be with others and if you choose a path that will demand you spend a lot of time alone, you will feel unhappy and it will affect your spiritual progress.
The opposite is also true; if you prefer to be alone and you choose a path that is too easy, you will feel unfulfilled and want to do more.
It is important to also realize that you may gravitate to a certain lifestyle because it is what you know and are used to. For example, you may spend a lot of time alone, but, when you analyze your needs, you discover that actually you would prefer to be more social than you are.
The missing aspect, whether it be to become more active socially or less active socially, is important in your spiritual practice. If you feel there is a part that is lacking, this will interfere with your progress on the path at some time, and you will need to fulfill it; otherwise you will become unhappy and perhaps project your unhappiness onto your spiritual practice.
Even if the missing piece remains unfulfilled, placing it in its proper perspective is important or else you can become mired in the emotions around it.
Choosing a spiritual teaching as a replacement for unfulfilled relationships always backfires.
The proper motivation is not there, and the student uses the teaching as a substitute for the unfulfilled desires.
Eventually, the student will become unhappy, as the teaching can never be a substitute for personal needs. That’s why when you look at these issues, be certain you are aware of unfulfilled desires, as they need to be worked out or let go of if you are going to progress on the path.
Face yourself & be truthful
All of the above is not as difficult as it sounds. Most people, when they take the time, can easily determine what makes them feel the happiest. The hard part is to determine if your lifestyle is coming from your true self and fulfills you, or if it is the result of circumstances based on karma.
Is it the lifestyle you really want? If it is not fulfilling your true self, then you must come to terms with it if for some reason you cannot change it.
If you have a karmic bond with someone who is making you unhappy, you must either change your feelings or change the relationship. In other words, you need to face yourself and accept a lifestyle you cannot change or, dramatically change your situation.
If, for example, you have a child, placing you with a lifestyle that is not suited to your true self, you obviously must take on the responsibility and raise the child in a loving environment. Later, you can adjust your life to fulfill more of your personal needs.
As long as you are aware of your needs, you will not necessarily project them onto your spiritual life and can therefore continue to progress on the spiritual paths.
After you have taken the time to evaluate the kind of lifestyle that will make you feel the happiest, then you can begin to look at the different spiritual paths that can lead you to oneness with your Higher Self.
The paths are going to be described in detail. If some of the details seem to not fit your needs, it is because the descriptions are meant to include more than one personality. At least 80 percent of the detail should appeal to you, or it is not the right path.
If you find that none of these paths appeal to you, then you should ask your Higher Self if you are ready to pursue a spiritual paths at this time.
Perhaps you need to wait for a while or to choose another teaching.
PATH OF ILLUMINATION
This path is the most difficult. Are you ready to spend at least three to four hours a day in study and contemplation?
Are you willing to sacrifice yourself and let go of all earthly pleasures?
Are you ready to give up your attachments, whether they are physical or mental?
Are you interested in developing your abilities in subtle planes of existence?
Do you feel ready to face your lower nature and walk through the temptations of the dark forces?
Are you in a place surrounded by nature so that you are not inundated by outside vibrations of underdeveloped humans?
Do you have the courage to battle and confront all the unseen forces that will try to dissuade you and make you turn back?
The most important quality you will need is a powerful will, a will that is developed enough to withstand any obstacle and any delay.
Only if you have developed such a will should you consider choosing this path; otherwise you will not be able to move forward.
And most of all, do you feel you are fulfilling your dharma, including the work you were destined to do in this life?
If you work full time, you will still need to devote at least two hours a day to devotional practice and study, and, on free days, at least three hours. The time spent in this way should be divided between meditation and study.
You must also have a strict, disciplined routine, a living situation that is clean and uncluttered, and an environment free from irritation.
In other words, if you live with someone, you must live in harmony and be surrounded by positive vibrations. A partner should feel supportive of the time you devote to this work. If this is not the case, it is better to choose a less strict path.
When you walk this path, you will encounter all your past demons and will need to overcome all your negative skandhas.
It is a path of letting go and forming new habits, new ways of thinking and new disciplined methods of working and acting.
Your friendships will be limited. Your family will be part of your life, but not the most important part.
You will spend more hours alone than with others, and you will often need to overcome enormous obstacles that will require all your heart energy and your entirely focused mind.
You must always be open to change. Flexibility is a requirement.
You will have to work closely with a teacher and Master; otherwise you can be seduced by the temptations that will come your way. If you do not have a teacher, you need to ask to be led to one.
This path requires guidance.
The struggle sometimes will seem difficult, but never too much for you to handle.
It is a path to the Higher Self.
You will need to work every day, every hour with the Higher Self and listen to its suggestions, knowing when you are really in contact with the Higher Self or an illusion from your lower nature.
Remember, this is the path that will bring you the most attention from the negative forces. It is the path that requires constant vigilance.
Your armor needs to be well tested before you start on this path.
If you choose this path, you will have to begin on a lesser one to see if you have chosen correctly.
The lesser path is connected to this one only and will test your strengths and endurance.
Most of all, you must be willing to listen to guidance and accept the obstacles without complaint or denial.
Do not expect rewards for your labor.
Know that the only reward is spiritual wholeness; the only gain is achieving the goal of your journey.
You will never be destitute on this path, but expect to be tested for right motivation, right thinking and the right use of occult powers.
If you fall off this path, you fall hard, and it will take some time to regain your footing on another path.
This path is far more difficult than the others and far more difficult than this description.
PATH OF LOVE
This path is also difficult. The main emphasis is on developing the use of the heart. It requires someone who is willing to sacrifice personal needs to expand the heart to include others and to focus on service in the world.
This is the path of the humanitarian. It will lead you in active pursuit of ways to help others. It is the path of the compassionate Buddha.
It requires a disciplined mind and heart, with an emphasis on using the heart at all times as an instrument of the Higher Self. With the constant use of the heart, there will be many challenges to be met on this path.
These challenges affect the personal ego, personal love needs, and personal desires.
The person who attempts this path must be psychologically sound and able to disidentify from outer circumstances, to be very much in the world, but not of it.
This person will be much more active in the world and will be required to deal with many more relationships.
Times of solitude will be needed to regain focus, but, primarily, the time of this individual will be spent interacting with others.
Much of the teaching will be put into practice with this path. There will be less concentration on studies and meditation and more concentration on relationships.
The person on this path will need to meditate at least twice a day and study for at least one hour a day and two hours on free days. The studies will vary, and focus first on developing the ability to disidentify and developing the qualities needed to use the heart at all times.
At a certain time on this path, when the heart is more developed, a stricter routine will begin that is more like the first path. At that time, readjustments in work and surroundings will be necessary.
At the beginning, the person can live anywhere. They will need to have an organized home and beauty of some kind within the home.
The people who are part of this person’s life must also be open to this teaching and not interfere with the daily practices of the student.
Obstacles will also accompany this path, but not in the same manner as on the first path. This path will never be the first path, but there will be many
of the same struggles and obstacles as the student achieves higher initiations. In the meantime, the student on this path can take much longer and concentrate more on developing the relationship skills that will be needed for the outside world.
If you want solitude, do not choose this path. It definitely is for the person who must be in the world and needs to work closely with others.
This person is going to be far more capable of becoming a spiritual teacher who must deal with many kinds of students. But, eventually, even this person will have to give up friendships and spend more time concentrating on the disciplines needed to reach the goal.
The Path of Love is also one that requires courage, strength of will, and sacrifice of one’s time and energies to do service.
Later on, it will be necessary to accomplish the work of the third path to achieve balance.
PATH OF HIGHER MIND
This path is for the person who is more inclined to Raja Yoga.
She derives the most inspiration and joy from learning about the higher principles and actively training the mind to focus.
The path is extreme in the discipline of the body, and employs strong methods to curtail any desire coming from the lower nature and any personal desires.
This student must be a vegetarian, have no sexual inclinations, and want more of the solitude of the first path.
This path differs from the first path in that it concentrates on achieving shamanism and, in that achievement, attaining access to the Higher Mind. In so doing, the Higher Self will be partly accessed, but later in the practice, even this student will have to work more with the heart to become one with the Higher Self.
The amount of time spent studying far exceeds that required in the others. The student must devote at least three hours a day to studying and, at the beginning, one hour in meditation. Later, this will change to more meditation time, putting into practice some of the methodology that has been studied.
This person will need to do this even if she is working full time. Much of the study can be done throughout the day, and relationships should not interfere. This path is difficult because of the time spent studying.
If the student is in a relationship, the partner needs to accept the need for discipline and not be too demanding of the student’s time. Relationships, therefore, can be difficult to maintain. For this reason, a person can begin this practice more slowly, spending less time at it and gradually increasing the time for meditation and study.
The mind needs to be very focused, and a certain amount of intelligence is required to do the work, but even that is not essential if the person moves slowly in this direction.
The mind will develop as a consequence of the work.
It is important to remember to use the heart, as the Higher Mind practices can most definitely lead a person to become onesided.
There is also a tendency to become too intellectual and believe that knowledge is the only way to achieve God Consciousness. As a result, the lower nature can use this belief to make the person feel superior to others.
This path is a far more difficult one because of these temptations.
Those wanting to pursue this path must work every day on using the heart and look at how their lower nature can trick them.
One of the fallacies of this path is the belief that achieving the Higher Mind brings God Consciousness. This is not true. It is the balance between the heart and mind and the awakened spirit that develops into the Higher Self and God Consciousness.
People on this path also need to do service in the world. Their dharma takes them into fields that can benefit humanity. They may want to live in solitude but generally they can’t. They are also the teachers who need to help others.
Their methods of teaching will differ from those of someone on the second path, and they generally will be much stricter with their students. It is a path that can take them far before they must join the second path, the Path of Love, for the sake of wholeness.
The above three paths are the ones that should be chosen if you seriously want to develop your consciousness.
There are other paths that can be taken, but all of the others are worldlier and less concentrated on study and meditation.
If you are serious about achieving God Consciousness then, undoubtedly, you should choose one of the above. If you are on the edge and, at this time in your life, prefer to walk more slowly, then you can select one of the following spiritual paths.
PATH OF DEVOTION
This path is one of devotional service. It requires less time in study and even less time in meditation.
The neophyte often chooses this path and, usually, is in an ashram, working to serve the guru.
The ritual of devotional practice is very important for this student, and much time is spent in chanting, dancing, and ceremonies of all kinds.
The focus is the work of the ashram that is usually simple and mundane. After years, many of these students will move more into one of the first three spiritual paths.
People on this path are often goodhearted “New Agers.” They rarely express their own ideas but are totally dependent on the teacher and “higher-ups.” They may spend their entire lives in devotional practices, especially in Indian ashrams.
The essence of devotion is needed in all spiritual practices, but in this practice, the devotion is more mundane and ritualistic.
If a person pursues this path and must work in the world, they will spend other hours in devotional practice, whether it be in the home at her personal shrine or at a nearby ashram. It is good groundwork for the first three spiritual paths, but not essential.
The Higher Self is a concept people on the spiritual Paths of Devotion believe in, but rarely are they in contact with It.
This path is the most religious of any of the paths in that there are set beliefs and practices that are followed. The disciplines are also rigid in these practices and need to be followed if the student wishes to remain in the teaching.
Many of the Indian gurus are proponents of this path. The true teacher of such an ashram will have an inner group following the first three paths, but generally most of the other disciples are on the Path of Devotion.
PATH OF SPIRITUAL LABOR
This student spends most of the time working. If the work is a job, people on this path will often work long hours and offer their spare time to outside causes.
They believe that life should be focused on service of any kind and that such service will help spiritual growth. Even though this is true, and students are accruing positive karma, they lack the spiritual discipline of meditation and study.
Little time is spent on meditation, and even though spiritual books are read, the student doesn’t actively pursue the practices. These people are the “do-gooders,” rarely going forward in their practice. They also rarely seek a teacher to guide them.
They believe they can do it on their own and, because of this, can become egotistical and self-centered. If they experience inner guidance, they accept this as being true knowledge and seldom question the inner voices.
Even if they find a teacher, they have difficulty asking for advice and continue working with the same sources that have led them before.
These individuals feel spiritually superior to others and develop a false identity based on this belief.
Seldom can they pursue the first three paths until they acknowledge this false identity and let go of their spiritual pride. This is difficult to do. The only way it can be accomplished is if they trust the teacher to guide them.
This path can lead to higher guidance only if the person lets go of the lower guidance.
Because people on this path often have psychic abilities, they may mistakenly believe that their higher centers are open and that they are clairvoyant and clairaudient.
Letting go of these psychic abilities is very difficult, because the person’s identity is tied up in them.
This path is the hardest to leave for the higher ones. It requires more devotion toward the teacher in order to trust the teacher’s direction.
PATH OF SERVICE
This path is a combination of some of the above. People on this path work to help others and will often choose a career in a service-oriented field. Much of their labor is spent in working for humanity.
Their purpose in life is more orientated in this direction, and the spiritual aspect is minor. They feel if they help others, their spiritual life will grow as a consequence, and so their spiritual practice takes a back seat.
If they have a teacher, they more likely will attend the classes or retreats, but overlook the daily practice. Their lives are too busy. Relationships with others are of primary importance.
They work toward becoming leaders and develop people skills for that purpose.
Their goals, although humanitarian, can become self-centered as they enjoy the gratitude they receive from those they help.
Their spiritual abilities are minimal compared to those on the Path of Spiritual Labor.
People on this path can move into the higher paths because of the good karma they usually earn; yet they need to develop the discipline to meditate and study. If they have a teacher, they will be the ones to help the teacher the most in worldly matters.
If they work in jobs other than humanitarian ones, they try to be the “good” managers, often giving their staffs too much leeway. They are kindhearted and always try to please others, sometimes too much so.
Generally, they have the necessary qualities to be on any of the top three paths but because of feelings of unworthiness, they tend to not try harder, but give up on themselves. If they overcome their insecurities, they will move forward.
PATH OF DETERMINATION
This path usually comes into people’s lives when they first encounter spirituality.
They are novices and must learn more before moving into the higher paths. Often their knowledge is more fantastical.
They may have seen or experienced something that makes them wish to move into a spiritual teaching.
Even though they feel a sudden determination to start a path, they are very cautious. Some will continue, and others will decide a spiritual journey is not for them at this time.
They will question any spiritual experience and their caution often can become a major obstacle, preventing any forward movement. If they can surmount this obstacle, they will be able to move forward on any of the above paths.
Sometimes, spiritual indications will frighten them, holding them back. Other times, they simply want to be certain that a teaching is right for them.
The latter will generally move forward into one of the esoteric teachings. These people will have difficulty accepting and trusting a teacher.
One reason is the fear of losing identity. They have a strong sense of self and need to keep that intact. Any type of surrender, whether it is to their own Higher Self or to a teacher, is too frightening for them.
These people need time to study and meditate more and learn to be in touch with the Higher Self that will lead them.
If they move onto a higher path, it will be with a strong sense of knowing it is right. They can therefore become strong disciples.
When you take a look at these paths, you may discover that you began one path and are now on another. This is important, as there will be crossover even on the lesser paths.
To determine where you are takes time. Look at your responses to the questions that were given to you earlier in this chapter.
When you have determined which path you are primarily traveling, then ask your Higher Self:
• Is my determination correct?
• Is this the right path for me at this time?
• If not, which one should I try to walk on?
If your Higher Self is indicating that you need to be on another path, read the description of the spiritual paths and evaluate what you must do in order to walk it correctly.
Consult your Higher Self for help by asking:
• What is the main thing I need to start working on in order to walk the spiritual paths correctly?
When you have an answer, schedule it into your daily life and begin the work. It may take time to fully be on the new path.
Don’t rush it. Know in your heart it is right for you.
If you have blocks around the path, ask your Higher Self for guidance on how to resolve them.
If you have a teacher, ask the teacher if you are ready to work on the path. Otherwise, make certain your Higher Self is giving you the indications rather than some other part of you that wants you to attempt something for which you are not prepared.
It is most important to walk the right spiritual paths. If you try another path and it doesn’t feel right for you, check it again. Go slowly.
These spiritual paths have many twists and turns, which reveal new hurdles that can slow you down. Do not be discouraged. You are still walking forward even when it seems the going is more difficult.
Always see your spiritual paths as the way to God Consciousness. Keep that goal forever in sight.