Sometimes we hear stories and descriptions of enlightenment or spiritual awakening that make it sound as if throughout the entirely of the spiritual journey until that moment of awakening we make no progress at all and then, WHAM!, we are awake. Could anything be more discouraging?
I remember going out on the high dive for the first time as a kid. At that point in my life, given my fear of heights, even the low dive seemed a long way up! As I stood with my toes curled around the edge literally shaking with fear, I contemplated climbing back down the ladder in humiliation. The only thing that kept me from doing it was that the prospect of looking down the ladder was more frightening than jumping off the diving board. At least landing in the water seemed softer than landing on the poolside. As I gingerly stepped off the board and hit the water feet first, my body rotated forward ever so slightly, relocating my teenaged testicles in my throat via my abdominal cavity and tempered my thrill of victory. Nevertheless, I was now a high diver by virtue of that one step.
Awakening is a lot more like a road trip in a car. Along the way we learn things necessary for the next step of the journey. There are no stops along the way which can be eliminated and still have us reach our destination. It’s not as if the trip has no value until we arrive at our destination – every step has value and brings us closer to our destination, including the ones which seem to be the result of getting lost. So don’t lose heart! You are on your way, and like every journey much more is learned along the way than in arriving!