Progress on the Path

I love this quote:

“The path to our enlightenment is nothing else but the rediscovery

of our Buddha nature that we have forgotten.

When the wind has blown away the clouds from the sky,

you can see the sun again – actually it had never stopped shining.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Over the past few weeks I’ve observed myself and noticed how neurotic I can be when I’m sleep deprived, distracted by my boyfriend, or worried about my boys. The fact that I can feel so peaceful and clear one day and so muddled and confused the next is…....very daunting.

Years ago I would worry that all the progress along my spiritual path had been lost, that my day of angst demonstrated that I had failed in my quest to be more loving, peaceful and trusting of the Universe.

Now I know better.

Now I understand that I have “cloudy days” and I have clear-sky days, where the progress that I’ve made on my path is evident and readily available to me.

I used to gauge my spiritual progress on how many “good days” I had, days where I felt peaceful and clear and could use the wisdom that I’d acquired to help my clients. But I’ve changed my barometer to reflect the fact that I, like all humans, have an ego. And with an ego comes the ability to feel fearful, and to worry and fret that my needs will not be met. Eventually I will get enough sleep, or sit and meditate to connect to a higher perspective, and then my fears will subside and I will feel calm and clear once again.

Understanding and accepting this ebb and flow – between love and fear – has been a major step towards acceptance of myself and others.

No one is perfectly calm in every moment, and when we’re feeling anxious our reactions will usually be driven by our ego and might make us cringe later. Now my goal is not to be clear and calm in every moment, but to recognize when I’m feeling “cloudy” and my ego is influencing my reactions. Once I spot this “ego bias”, I stop taking my anger, worry and frustration too seriously. Instead I take steps to re-connect to a higher way of seeing things.

So my new barometer for assessing my progress on the spiritual path is this: how quickly can I notice when I’m coming from fear instead of love, and what will I do to re-orient myself to a higher perspective?

Under this barometer I do not have to be perfect. I just have to be brave enough to be honest about what I’m feeling, and willing to acknowledge when I’m not operating from my highest understandings. The goal isn’t some notion of perfection, it’s being willing to move through the highs and lows with patience and understanding.

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