In recent years, many mainstream religions are finding more and more seekers walking through the doors of their buildings. Many minority religions have been experiencing a dramatic upsurge in growth as people who grew up dissatisfied with their family religion have begun to seek alternatives.
There is certainly no shortage of books, workshops, retreats, or audio recordings offering to teach us the mysteries of life or set us on the path to spiritual enlightenment. With our world in turmoil, there seems to be a common longing among people in our country. It’s as if a sense of emptiness is prevalent– a sense that a piece of the puzzle of life is missing, and people are unsure of just what will fill the space.
What people are seeking is spiritual realization.
Spiritual realization is not a single secret that a person or a book can reveal to us. There is no single act or path that can bring about a spiritual realization for all people. Some people may follow a religion all of their lives and do everything they’ve been told that they are supposed to do and never come to spiritual realization. Other people, no matter what beliefs they may have had, may come to spiritual realization when they aren’t even looking for it.
The realization is not something that can be explained in words, nor is it the knowledge that can be passed on. Moreover, it cannot be found externally. While there is nothing wrong with seeking wisdom from others and opening ourselves to spiritual experiences, all we need to reach spiritual realization already lies within ourselves. It is something we all have to find in our own time.
Spiritual realization is an epiphany in which, all of a sudden, the pieces of the puzzle finally seem to fall into the correct place. This realization is not a minor, fleeting thought; it is a completely new understanding about the nature of the Divine, one’s connection to everything in the universe, and the sacredness of the self. A true spiritual realization will forever change a person, as once spiritual realization occurs, it will change the way a person sees the world and everything in it. Simply put, spiritual realization is the moment when one goes from believing to knowing.
This does not mean one has figured out everything. There are still questions to be answered, still lessons to be learned. Life continues to be a difficult yet wondrous journey, and spiritual realization does not change that. Think of spiritual realization as finding a compass on that journey; you still don’t know what’s up ahead, but at least you will now have the guidance you need to know where you are and which way you are headed.
Some may wonder how spiritual realization can be different for every person. Those who believe there is one, single, universal truth to be learned, one “right” answer, will never understand that other people of a different faith can reach enlightenment. But spiritual realization is not about a concrete answer, it is about an understanding of one’s reality.
Reality is subjective. Our unique viewpoints and experiences are what shapes our reality. What may be a reality for one person may not be for someone else. Spiritual realization has to make sense in one’s own reality in order for it to make an impact on a person.
There is no single way to reach spiritual realization. It’s not something one can rush, or force. But there are things that you can do to promote your own spiritual growth in attempts to bring yourself closer to spiritual realization.
First and foremost, open yourself to your spirituality. You can do this simply by doing the things that make you feel spiritual. Participate in sacred rites, attend communal worship services, read inspirational writings, go to the places that move your soul, sing the songs that awaken reverence, joy, or peace within you. Take some time every day to do something that makes you feel that connection to the Divine.
On the other hand, realize what is not working for you. Many of us do not feel completely at home in the religion in which we were raised or with the beliefs our parents have imparted. We continue to go through the motions because it has become routine, but find no real meaning or fulfillment in it.
It’s not easy to walk away from your church community or to tell members of your family that you don’t think you believe the same as they do anymore. It is particularly difficult to walk away from all you have ever known if you have been brought up with a great fear of Divine retribution and threats of eternal damnation.
You have to give yourself permission to follow your heart and be true to your soul’s longing. You’re not turning your back on your God; you are simply trying to forge a closer relationship with the Divine Force. If that is not happening for you on one path, don’t be afraid to seek others.
Your seeking might bring you right back where you started, and you can return, newly enlightened. Instead, searching might bring you to a path you least expected, or that you didn’t even know was there. Once you find the right path, however, and you feel yourself coming to spiritual realization, you will not regret the effort.
When seeking spiritual realization, go directly to the source. Communicate with the Great Spirit through prayers. Pray as often as you like, anywhere the need or mood strikes you. Tell Spirit what is troubling you, voice your questions aloud, ask for the answers that you need.
Then, open yourself to those answers. One of the best ways to do this is to meditate. If prayers are talking to Spirit, meditation is listening. Quiet your mind and still your body and allow the messages to come through. You probably won’t hear a booming voice coming from the sky.
You may find images coming in your mind’s eye, ideas may pop into your head, or you may just get “feelings” about things. Whatever comes, simply be open to receiving it while you are meditating and evaluate it later. Keeping a meditation journal can also aid you on your journey so that you can record your experiences and look back on them when you feel the need.
Finally and most importantly, don’t give up. If you are experiencing spiritual longing, it is not something that will go away until you have your realization. You can’t turn your back on it, or shut the longing off like a light switch. Don’t get discouraged; be patient.
Spirit has much to teach you and your higher self needs to sort those things out for you until you can fully realize them. Don’t worry about when it will come; know that you are preparing for that moment, and accept the fact that it will come for you.