A popular post circulating Facebook awhile back posited that the signs of spiritual progress are about becoming increasingly upbeat, positive, and blissful, a common new-age misconception. Spiritual progress is not about entering an eternally ecstatic state — that’s called being high. Instead, you’ll know real spiritual growth has occurred when you experience the following:
1)** You welcome all your emotions.
Beginners on the spiritual path often believe that they must be positive all the time, criticizing themselves for having normal human feelings such as grief, jealousy, rage, negativity, or a just-plain bad day. You’ll know you’re progressing when you accept that all emotions are essential to the human experience. You wouldn’t want to miss a second of what’s true in the moment, instead of attempting to force yourself into being someone you’re not.
2)** You do the right thing without thinking about it.
When the cashier gives you the wrong change, you give it back without even considering whether it’s the right thing to do. You’ve looked deeply into the issue and seen that doing the wrong thing creates too much static, self recrimination, or negative repercussions, and it’s gone deep within you to perform right action to the best of your ability.
3)** You’ve successfully challenged your parents’ and your culture’s brainwashing, kept what works, and resoundingly rejected what doesn’t.
Beginners on the spiritual path do not understand the depth of their brainwashing. It’s shocking to see how mechanical you and others are, going along with the program. Of course, many of the things you learned from your parents and your culture are good and useful, and you want to keep those. But messages about sexuality, race, entertainment, and what is of value in life are things you will want to question and, in many cases, reject the prevailing notions.
4)** You have increasing compassion for yourself and others.
You’ve begun to discover that everyone is in pain, including celebrities with their pseudo-perfect lives, the people on the street you’ve make fun of, and yourself. You understand that we’re all in this human predicament together and are developing a soft empathic response to it.
5)** You’ve done your inner work.
Everyone has psychological digging to do, and you’ve committed to seeing it to completion.* If there are still places inside yourself where you’re afraid to go, you’re not done yet. Do this work with a competent therapist who understands your spiritual longings.
6)** You’ve embraced your humanity.
You’ve given up the dream of becoming super human, immortal, mega-rich, or having the perfect body. You’ve decided to live here on planet earth with the rest of us imperfect folks who are just like you.
7)** You agree with life.
You’ve given up your rose-colored glasses and accepted that life on this planet is challenging and will never become a Garden of Eden. You understand that much of life is suffering, and that you will continue to experience heartbreak for the rest of your life. You’ve accepted aging and death as a great adventure. *You agree with who you are, who you’ve been, and the fact that you will be leaving here shortly. *Amen.
Copyrighted. Catherine Auman. All rights reserved.