The motivation to embark on a spiritual path comes from the uncompromising experience of dissatisfaction. Plodding along day after day we might suddenly realize that we've been on a plateau without having experienced anything new, fresh, eventful, or uplifting for a very long time. There’s no longer a song in our heart, yet we feel compelled to keep the beat going, dutifully walking the tried and true way of many yesterdays, until one day when we can no longer postpone the urgent need to cut the rope and be free.
The spiritual passage begins with questioning some of our cherished assumptions about who we are and whether the life we have chosen for ourselves has been a conscious choice. By considering these questions we retreat from the world into our own depths where great challenges wait for us.
There are two fundamentally different but complementary states that we can be in—being or doing. We live in an action-oriented, “doing” culture, where efficiency and achievement are valued. “Being”, on the other hand, is associated with idleness, having nothing to do, simple relaxation, or taking time out for reducing stress. Being is commonly regarded as a valueless interval between doing necessary things, as having no intrinsic meaning, value, or purpose in itself. However, from a meditator's perspective, being is the only time when we’re without our agenda, where our mind and heart are unguarded, where we allow ourselves to experience the moment without manipulating what arises.
Meditation is like sitting by the bank of a great stream. The stream’s relentless currents carry our many memories, our rich tapestry of experiences, both painful and pleasurable, as well as our anticipation of what’s just yet to come. Our job as a meditators is to remain on the bank of the stream without falling into it's turbulent currents.
In the esoteric schools of spiritual practice, the left-hand path refers to the more radical understanding and methods for discovering enlightenment where we’d least expect to find it. The left-hand path, sometimes known as tantra, includes the teaching of the five wisdom energies which are associated with the basic elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and space, that we all possess. These energies have the power to re-spark our sacred or magical connection with life, the life we may remember from childhood.