A manageable way to guide yourself onto the course of spiritual enlightenment through practical thinking.
Spiritual enlightenment might seem like a big, complex concept that you could never hope to understand. But if you think about it as a number of small steps, you'll find it's much easier to start your journey. By making achievable but important changes in your life you will begin to open yourself up to enlightenment.
What is enlightenment?
Enlightenment is knowledge, not of the mind, but of the heart. It's about growing in awareness and understanding. It's the emptying of the self, or ego, and the realisation that we are all one, bound together like pieces of a cosmic jigsaw puzzle. Enlightenment is about realising your full potential. It's a gradual process, and the path towards it can be a tough one. But the results will eventually make you feel happier and more fulfilled. Enlightenment is not reserved for spiritual teachers; anyone can choose this path. By following the steps below you can start living a life that is more enlightened.
Think for yourself
First you need to break free from the way you have been conditioned to think. Stop to consider whether the opinions you hold are truly your own or if you are just repeating the accepted views of society, the media, parents, friends or teachers. Racing through life without reflecting and forming your own opinions is like walking around with your eyes shut - you can't see the way ahead and you're bound to trip up.
Your thoughts directly impact on your experience of life. So if you are constantly dwelling on problems and looking at the negatives, you'll have a negative experience. Of course, unexpected problems often occur in life over which you have no control. But it is your reaction to these problems that matters. Live lightly by not taking every thought or emotion you have to heart. Release negative emotions - let them go.
Change from within
If you feel stuck in a rut, don't look to others to rescue you or change your situation. Identify what you are unhappy with and set about changing it yourself. Look upon the problems and hardships of life as learning experiences. This is difficult to do when you are in the midst of a crisis but once the immediate stress has settled, look back and reflect on how you would handle a similar issue in the future.
Live in the moment
The only time that matters is right now; the past is gone and the future is yet to come. Be present and aware rather than clinging on to a past that has long disappeared. If you want to achieve something, don't put it off; do it right now. Holding on to blame and resentment from the past only damages you in the present. Move forward.
Believe in yourself
A healthy self belief is not the same thing as an out-of-control ego. You need to have confidence in your abilities to succeed, just as you should be able to admit when you're wrong and laugh at your mistakes. Work towards your dreams. Even if you're busy with work and family, you can set aside an hour or two per week to devote to your dream - whether it's painting, music, writing, photography, study etc. Never give up hope that you can achieve your goal.
It's not always possible avoid negative people so deal with them as briefly as possible and do it with a smile - even if you wish they would vanish into thin air. If you're constantly dealing with negative people at work, then it might be worth asking yourself if you really want to stay in that particular job. You have more control over avoiding negative places and habits. Stay clear of places and social situations that you know will drag you down. If you always drink too much with a certain group of friends, or if you always spend too much money with them, ask yourself whether the friendship is truly beneficial. If you decide it is, then see them in different situations, where you won't be tempted to overindulge or splash your cash.
Cultivate an inner life
Instead of constantly being caught up in the whirl of everyday life, give yourself time to step out of the rat race, and think and reflect. Even if it's just ten minutes a day, give yourself that chance to pause rather than always reacting to life.
Choose a spiritual practice that suits you and work hard at it. This could be a mainstream religion or a more esoteric practice. Whatever you choose, follow it because you have researched it and you feel drawn to it - not because you have been told it is the only way.
Do what you know to be right. Don't be swayed by peer group or family pressure. Listen to other's opinions but stay true to your vision. Have compassion for others; being able to feel compassion, even for those who have hurt you, will truly set you free.