A Process of Discovery - Steve Hein
The words "spiritual path" have a very personal meaning to me. I have always been an intellectual, "in my head" type person, not one in touch with my spiritual side. Some time ago, after a particularly painful experience in my life, I began on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. This journey took me to the snow-capped mountains of California, to the timeless waterfalls of our national parks, to the awesome glaciers of Canada, to the bustling cafes in Paris and the warm beaches of Spain.
Near the beginning of this journey I met an intriguing person in a Key West youth hostel who suggested I develop my spiritual side. Her words have lingered in my mind ever since.
As my travels continued, the gift of her suggestion helped keep me open to whatever spiritual lessons I could learn. Along the way there were several turning points. One was the book "Illusions". The book begins, "Somewhere east of the hills of Fort Wayne, Indiana..." Being born and raised in Fort Wayne, this got my attention. For me, the book had a mystical, spiritual essence. And it made sense while offering many profound insights.
Why hadn't I ever read this book before, I wondered. As my journey continued, I would find myself asking similar questions over and over. Where, I kept wondering, was all this information, teaching, knowledge and wisdom, when I was growing up (or at least getting older). Why had it taken so long to appear in my life?
There is a saying which states "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." Evidently I wasn't ready. In time, I would uncover why I wasn't ready, but that is another story.
I like to think of my journey as a process of discovery. As I read and thought and talked about life, philosophy and religion I began to feel the change taking place. Was this the development of my spiritual side? Perhaps. Whatever name I give it, I absolutely discovered I'd been missing something, something I didn't realize I was lacking.
How can I describe this something? Partly it was a belief, an attitude, an acceptance. It was also a peacefulness, an understanding, an insight, an enlightenment.
Somehow, the process effected a transformation. I became more open minded and more emotional. I gave serious consideration and contemplation to a wider variety of ideas. I began to realize that I could learn from just about everything around me. And I began to feel emotions on a deeper level.
A second turning point was attending a church just to take another look at institutionalized religion. While the people inside were kind to me, I couldn't totally relate to them and their beliefs. To me, they seemed to be abdicating too much responsibility and control to their "higher power" and not assuming enough for themselves. But while there, I wandered into their library where I picked up a couple of books. Both of these books were best sellers, yet I had never read them. A central theme was the power of our own minds to create happiness or unhappiness. In fact, the power of the mind seemed to keep reoccurring in all my readings.
At any rate, somewhere along my discovery process, I did start to feel "spiritual". Maybe the church experience helped me distinguish between spiritualism and religion. Whatever was happening, I seemed to be finding my spiritual side totally within me. Yet at the same time, I felt more connected to others, and to nature.
A third turning point was during my trip to France. I learned that the French word "esprit" means both "mind" and "spirit". This made sense. This began to explain why, as I developed my mind, I felt more spiritual. Things were falling into place. The familiar quotes like, "I think therefore I am" and "As you think--you are," began to make more sense. Who are we, really, but our thoughts? And where do our thoughts originate? Our minds. Our minds, our spirit. Our spirit, our life.
Remember the high school cheer, "We've got spirit, yes we do, we've got spirit, how 'bout you?" In this simple phrase, spirit is equated to vitality, to energy, to enthusiasm. And where do these qualities come from? Our minds. Our minds have the power to motivate us, to give us energy to stay awake, to keep going. For example, I noticed when driving, I could literally create energy to stay awake and alert by my positive thoughts. My thoughts are my caffeine.
So for me, my spirit originates in my mind. It is my mind that creates the concept of who I am. It is my mind that believes, that has the power to love, that has the power to appreciate the beauty of the world. It is the mind that has the power to assume responsibility. It is the mind that can direct the body. It is the mind that can evaluate and choose its beliefs, values and attitudes. It is the mind that can differentiate between what we are taught and what we choose to accept. It is the mind that creates the feeling of emotion.
So for me, my mind and my spirit are indeed one. This is the conclusion I have reached at this point on my highly rewarding journey along the "spiritual path".
Copyright 1995 Steve Hein