Practice or have a transformational moment?

I’m still on my path of exploration (see previous post), trying to sort out what I believe in the midst of teachings that confuse me. There are a couple of notions out there that have caused me some stumbles and I think I’ve finally figured out what works for me.

Here and there I’ve run into teachers who talk about a “transformational moment” in which they were suddenly brought to higher consciousness. Usually they conclude that something in particular, like letting go or supreme focus, led to this leap although I’ve seen a couple who felt that it came out of nowhere. The odd thing to me has been that they all spent years meditating or living in an ashram or studying with some master prior to the great moment. In spite of all that practice they’re either dumbfounded at achieving transformation or create some new theory about how they got there based on what they were doing in the moment. I don’t understand how they discount the years of doing practice as if that had nothing to do with it.

Another theory that has a similar impact on me is that you’re already there so you don’t need to practice or do anything. They dismiss all talk of blocks or issues or veils of illusion; all such notions are themselves illusions because you’re already there. I get the theory. Of course it’s who we already are in the sense that God consciousness or Buddha nature is part of our natural state. However, since most of us have no concept of ourselves as divine (until we stumble onto a spiritual path), I’m hazy as to how this belief works. If you’re completely oblivious to your Buddha nature or maybe even that Buddha nature exists it doesn’t seem to me that you’re living as nor conscious of your true self. If you don’t do anything how do you move from unconscious to conscious?

Notions like separation, blocks, and veils seem to me to be just attempts to explain the divide in consciousness between the part of you that doesn’t remember your divinity and the divine essence that you are. The specific words don’t really matter as long as they help you understand the idea that there’s more to you than you know. The point of most spiritual practice seems to me to be to bridge that gap.

While I can’t claim to have achieved enlightenment (nor am I particularly seeking it) my experience of spiritual practices is that they have profound impacts from balance to moving your energy to different levels to healing and, I think, changing you from the cellular level. They may not be the only way to get to God consciousness but I think they contribute a great deal. If someone has chanted or meditated or done some other practice for 10 or 20 years before breaking through to clarity in the moment or transformation, I think that the practices have helped to get there. Of course, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know I’m really into practices.

Some people experience a major drama or trauma and suddenly find that clarity and yes, it’s possible that you can just suddenly believe so totally in your true nature that your consciousness is changed. But most people who reach some degree of higher consciousness or become enlightened have done a lot of practice.

Maybe if I become enlightened I’ll write a post recanting this one. But I’ve been on this journey for almost 27 years and I can’t imagine that I would ever discount all the great teachers and great teachings and practices that have helped me to make every small and giant step along the path. And I worry that when teachers say you should be able to be there in an instant that it sets a lot of people up to feel like failures if it doesn’t happen that way. For myself, I’ve decided to set aside the notion that I could or should transform in a moment or that I’m going to suddenly get through to my essence by just deciding to. I like the journey that the practices take me on. They often take me to unexpected places but they always lead some place good.

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11 thoughts on “Practice or have a transformational moment?

  1. I think there are small enlightenments that happen everyday that may go un-noticed as you are looking for the ‘big’ one :) This week I wrote a post on recognising that trees are not just green but several shades of green. This is such a simple concept and yet I KNOW there are people who don’t see colours as they look at a tree – they only see green.

    Once you are aware of the many nuances of green or any other colour for that matter your view of the world changes in a dramatic and enlightening way. It is a life changer that makes the normally dull route to work (for instance) that much more bright.

    This to me is a small enlightenment that has made a big difference in my life – as Simple as it sounds.

    Have you read the book Yoga Bitch? It is a quick, light read that addresses this question.

    • Funny, one of the practices I have loved that came from one of my Huna teachers was taking something like a blade of grass or a leaf to look at it until you could really see the nuances and patterns of it or to close your eyes and listen until you realize how far away you can hear sounds and how many details of sound. Haven’t read Yoga Bitch but I’ll look for it.

  2. We’re all People in Progress and I don’t believe there is a set time table for “enlightenment.” God’s time frame is not ours, and I’ve struggled with that fact more often than not! But, I’m learning to wait patiently and do the best I can in the meantime.

    • Learning to be patient has been one of my great (and ongoing) lessons. But I have learned that the journey, once set in motion, has its own agenda and timing.

  3. I agree totally – I have been on a path of self-discovery for about ten years and a portion of my insight and clarity has come from others wisdom. Still, there is a large portion of my space and awareness that arose from my True Nature (Buddha Nature). Most awakenings were gradual and peaceful but each has been true egoless wisdom from somewhere deep and sublime. Though, even at this point of clarity and responsiveness in my life, my journey is far from over – we do not stop learning until the day we die – because learning is born from experience – Love your post – JCB

  4. The shift in consciousness that we call a transformation may happen in a split second, but just like the butterfly emerging, there was a growth that took place previously to bring us to that magical moment. Great post!

  5. I too am a big believer in having a practice. And I do believe it matters what path or paths a person choses. I was lucky and found teachers that pretty much stripped away most of the spiritual glamour sometimes associated with consciousness work and made me really dig to get to the core of myself. I am forever grateful. During this work I have had parts of me that are fundamentally changed forever, as you say at the cellar level, and that was due to the work I did. Transformation can happen in a moment, and often happens when we are not looking for it. The more we can open up to the nowness of ourselves with out judgment and expectation the more we invite moments of Grace into our lives. And in that place I believe is where transformation resides. And “the practice” is your vehicle for the journey. By the way, love the butterfly metaphor. :)

    • Ellen had a lot to do with that reach into the core for me, among others. But I also find that practices like the Eight Key Breaths, etc. that work on prana, and yoga nidra have been creating shifts in me so I feel so many things I’ve done have been adding up to change. I don’t really have much ambition about enlightenment so I imagine if it happens it’s going to slip up on me — not why I do the practices. I like the moments of grace though. Thanks for another thoughtful comment.

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