Signposts on the Spiritual Journey June 4, 2021

Here it is, the end of another school year.  This one is significant because our daughter graduates from high school. Her future may not include any additional formal schooling.  What that means to me is no more tests!  Studying for tests has been a tricky business.  We were never quite sure what material to review or how comprehensive the exam would be.  Along the way, she had to learn that the most obvious answer wasn’t always the correct one.  In life, as on exams, this observation holds true.

Questions that seem simple on the surface are often not as simple as we first thought. For instance, the answer to the question, “How long did the Hundred Years War last?” seems obvious, but the answer is 116 years. If you thought Panama makes the eponymous hats, you’d be wrong. They come from Ecuador. Here’s another: From what animal do we get catgut? From sheep and horses, of course. In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution? November. What was King George IV’s first name? Well, everyone knows it was Albert. Ah yes…many test-takers are glad to be out of school…far away from trick questions like these thought up in some teacher’s lounge.

But even though we try to get from the rigors of academic life, we find our lives are filled with other kinds of tests. We take driver’s tests, drug tests, polygraph tests, sobriety tests, eye tests, and COVID tests.  People in law enforcement have to qualify on the shooting range at least four times a year. Many of us have to take a test for our chosen profession. Like it or not, tests are a part of life.

All of this caused me to ponder:  Is there a test to determine where I am on my spiritual journey?  The answer is YES!  I found it here:  Sadly, though taking the test was fun,  the results were vague enough to apply generally to anyone on a spiritual path.  The truth is it’s impossible to pinpoint where anyone is on their spiritual journey.  There are, however, a few signposts along the way.

Signpost #1: I have developed the ability to separate what is observed from Who Is Observing.  This skill, not perfect by any means, allows me to not identify with what I am observing.  For instance, someone acts rudely toward me.  If, before I react, I notice that I’m inclined to take this action personally, then I can stop the automatic reaction.  Yay!  This is a tiny bit of proof that I’ve grown spiritually.

Signpost #2:  If I react before I separate from what is observed, I have another opportunity to practice an important skill.  I can choose not to criticize myself.  Self-criticism keeps me identified with Who I Am Not.  My goal is to separate from the false identity.  Stopping the critical voice inside my head allows me to sense my Essence.  Essence is Who I Am, and can always be felt beneath the chatter of self-talk and the world’s noise.

Signpost #3:  I am aware of a sense of peace deep within me regardless of what is happening around me.  I feel the need to “do less in life’s situations and be more of the Essence I Am.”

My advice is to stop seeing life as a test. Instead, look for signposts along the way that indicate your progress.  Your signposts may be different from mine because your path is different.  Yet, signposts are a friendly reminder that we’ve made progress.  In our spiritual journey, it’s progress that matters, not the destination.  Bon Voyage!

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