From the email:
The problem is that we’ve all been steeped in a contemporary
spiritual subculture that tells us that the very reason we should
follow a spiritual path is so that we can live happier, more
fulfilled, more peaceful lives.
And, as long as our own happiness is all we’re seeking, we’ll never
awaken the depth of spiritual passion and conviction required to
propel us into genuine transformation.
That conviction can only arise when we realize that the spiritual
path is not about us–but about participating in something far
greater than ourselves.
To get a taste of what I’m talking about, imagine for a moment that
the fate of the entire human race rested on your shoulders alone. That
humanity’s evolution out of brute self-interest depended entirely
on your willingness to transform your consciousness, to rise above
your smallness, to evolve beyond your primitive conditioning, and
become an exemplar of humanity’s highest potential for the world.
Imagine, in other words, that for you, evolving beyond ego became
an evolutionary imperative.
Would you approach your path any differently? Would the energy you
brought to your spiritual practice intensify? Would the quality of
awareness and care with which you approached your interactions with
others become more profound?
Would you find yourself reaching with inner muscles you didn’t even
know you had to remain awake to the depth you’ve tasted in your most
profound spiritual moments?
If you knew it all rested on you, would you have any choice but to
The Indian sage Ramana Maharshi once said that the spiritual
aspirant must want liberation like a drowning man wants air.
But the painful truth is that even when we recognize that we are
not getting traction on our spiritual path, most of us find it difficult
to generate the motivation to truly evolve.
The challenges of authentic spiritual transformation are so great
that most of us will choose to continue suffering in our smallness
over feeling the pain of allowing that smallness to die forever.
But how many of us would do the same if we realized that it wasn’t
only our own suffering we were perpetuating, but the suffering of
the entire human race?
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “That’s a nice thought
experiment. Sure, it makes me realize I could be more earnest on my
path, but what does it really have to do with me? I’m no
megalomaniac. I know that my transformation alone isn’t enough to
liberate the human race.”
And it is here that I would ask you to reconsider.
Modern science has in recent decades been verifying what the
ancient traditions intuited long ago: that, in both tangible and
mysterious ways, we are all interconnected, and any one of us can
have a profound effect on the whole.
And, if you accept the perennial mystical teaching that, at the
level of consciousness, we are not only interconnected, but are
actually one Self seeing through many eyes, then it should be clear
that, like it or not, in the way we conduct our inner and outer
lives, each of us is in fact always having an effect on the whole.
Add to that the reality that we are evolving beings living in an
evolving universe, that we are all part of a grand, cosmic
evolutionary process, and the question of our obligation to the
whole starts to cut close to the bone.
To reframe my earlier question: What would you do if you realized
that the entire human endeavor, the evolution of consciousness
itself, depended on your willingness to evolve your own
How would it affect the choices you make every day if you knew that
those choices were, in a very real sense, either contributing to
the evolution of the whole or holding it back?
At this time when it seems that our very future depends on our
willingness to evolve as a species, would you have any choice but
to act in alignment with the greatest evolutionary good?
The point I’m trying to make is that when we take a closer look at
what spiritual transformation is actually for, it quickly becomes
clear that the path of awakening is not primarily about freeing
ourselves from suffering and securing our own happiness.
Sure, that’s a nice by-product. But, as long as that’s all we’re
seeking, we probably won’t get very far.
Where the spiritual path really begins to get interesting is when
we recognize that transforming ourselves in the deepest possible
way is in fact an evolutionary imperative with profound
consequences far beyond ourselves.
When we begin to embrace the fact that our lives really are not our
own to do with as we please, that in everything we do, we are in
fact accountable to the Whole, something truly miraculous begins to
Faced with the palpable responsibility to transform for a greater
good, we find that we suddenly have access to a seemingly infinite
source of energy, intention, passion and courage to confront
whatever challenges present themselves on our path.
What’s more, all of the personal issues and problems, all of the
fears and doubts and resistances that once seemed so insurmountable
begin to seem a lot less significant.
Why? Because our attention is now captivated by something much
bigger than ourselves.
Ignited by a noble calling to participate in the grand adventure of
conscious evolution, we find we no longer have time to worry about
And in this freedom from self-concern, before long we
discover that the deep inner peace and joy we were seeking all
along has become the very ground we are walking on.
When I was reading this it occurred to me that the greatest example of this is in the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth. He lived and acted for a much bigger cause than himself. And in this big big context, maybe he didn’t die for our sins but maybe he lived the way he lived (and hence died the way he died- with inner peace and forgiveness) as an example to us of how we can endeavor to live. Not so we will be happy and fulfilled but so we will do our divine part in the ongoing evolutionary consciousness.