Spirituality is meant to bring about harmony and peace. But the diversity of our philosophies, beliefs, concepts and views about spiritual matters often leads to confusion or even conflict. The fact is that the very act of seeking spiritual freedom causes notions of success and failure, and these notions serve only to bind us to our own self judgments: Am I growing? Have I done anything wrong? Am I meditating enough?
Truth is only complicated because we pass it through our habitual thought patterns. When we step back from ourselves, truth becomes simple. There are not many paths to freedom, there is only one. In the end, no matter what particular patterns of thought we have managed to build in our minds, freedom always means transcending these personal thought patterns.
But how does one go about transcending the personal self and awakening to spiritual freedom? What is needed for this journey are succinct steps that are so universal that they can echo through the halls of any religion as well as support intellectual understanding. Michael Singer, author of The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, offers the following universal road map to Self Realization.
1. Realize that you are in there. You must first come to realize that you are in there. From deep inside, you are experiencing this world. You are experiencing your physical body, your thoughts and your emotions. You are conscious and you are experiencing what it is like to be human.
2. Realize that you are not okay in there. Look to see what's going on inside. If you want to understand why you've done everything you have ever done, if you want to see what's really going on, just observe your mind and emotions—just experience your inner state. If you objectively look, you will see that you are never completely at peace. You will see that you are not okay in there.
3. Realize that you're always trying to be okay. At any point when you look at the state of your inner being, you will see that something is bothering you. You will then notice that this causes urges, drives and impulses to do something about it. You will find yourself constantly trying to either get something or avoid something. All of this is done in an attempt to be okay.
4. Realize that your mind has taken on the job of figuring out how everything needs to be for you to be okay. If you watch, you will see that your mind is always telling you what you should and should not do, what others should and should not do, and how things should and should not be. All of this is the mind's attempt to first create a conceptual model of what would make you okay, and then try to get the outside world to match it.