When someone realizes that there is a need for change in her life; that there are many things which need to be reformed to progress; then that realization is the most important step into transformation.
That progress is made though certain steps. For some, it will be about stopping to drink liquor. For others, to stop smoking. For others, to become vegetarian, and yet for others, to go to a religious gathering every week.
All the steps that we could perform to gain a different consciousness are welcomed in the spiritual path.
As a matter of fact, there is usually an “improvement “ period of some sort at the beginning.
“Since I decided not to smoke, my nagging cough has disappeared,” or “Since I decided to go to mass every Sunday, my angry behavior has diminished.”
As we can notice, the common denominator is that we “improve” by taking things away.
If you look at any spiritual path, there is always something to “take away,” that is something that we were doing or thinking which is superfluous or “negative.”
The extent of that “taking away,” is known is some spiritual philosophies as “renunciation.”
Many religions praise renunciation as the means to “enlightenment; ” nevertheless, the emphasis on “getting rid of things,” many times will break the individual’s will to continue in a path.
Spirituality is like training an athlete. If an athlete tries to perform a workout, which he is not capable yet, he will break down and he will not be able to perform well in a competition. How impressed others may be by knowing of the difficulty of a workout, is of no consequence in a competition
When our mentality is set on renouncing things without insight or deep understanding, that person will break down and create a mental image of the danger of the “outside,” the temptations of the “corrupted ways” of common people who are able to “do” those things which are being “rightly” renounced.
Amy wanted a change in her life. She became vegetarian because she found out that meat is not healthy for you. Then, Amy met a “nice” spiritual person when she went to a religious gathering; her name is Tracy.
Tracy belongs to a religious group. In her group, Tracy was only allowed to mingle with people who belongs to her religion. Tracy renounced the rest of the world.
Tracy is not encouraged to socialize with co-workers outside work hours, also she is not allowed to specifically take yoga classes or play competitive sports professionally; moreover, Tracy is not allowed to study philosophy, psychology or any other studies which may shake her faith, and finally; Tracy is not allowed to date non-believers or to get married with anyone outside her faith.
For Amy, the above was a lot to “renounce;” but she was willing to do it because she admired Tracy.
She wanted to be like her.
Amy gave up her yoga classes. She gave up her friends. She stopped going to school to complete her degree in psychology. Her world was her religion.
Evidently, in the beginning she had the happiness of novelty. New friends, a new life, a new horizon. Amy improved her demeanor thanks to her new friends in that path of reformation. As time went by, however; Amy felt secluded. She felt that “the honeymoon” period was over.
She decided to quit… and with that her demeanor, her vegetarian diet, her time with “good” friends; all of that “improvement” was gone!
The above is the usual path of those who “quit” a reforming, renouncing religious path.
In time, Amy felt that she was missing something. She knew that her vegetarian diet was bringing benefits to her as well as following other “reforming” tasks which her religion professed as “Do not’s,” items.
Amy “missed” her life style with the religious group but did not want to relinquish the things that were prohibited to her. That was her dilemma.
The important item to remember is that any external activity performed with the purpose of changing the self, needs to be incorporated in the self; that is, it needs to be “natural.”
In this respect, renunciation needs to eventually disappear.
Thus, true renunciation leads to renouncing renunciation.
“Reforming” a human being through the practice of ritualistic activities has the purpose of bringing greater awareness. If that awareness is not experienced, then the practice of ritualistic activities will be a source of repression in a human being in the extent that there is not greater consciousness.
A human being with a higher consciousness does not require external practices to flourish in life. For her a sense of gratefulness to life, a daily doses of being thankful of experiencing the greatness of life is the element necessary to flourish.
That gratefulness is the sunshine and water necessary to grow and transform.
That appreciation of life, that growth, is expressed in a happy face with a bright smile.
This is the ultimate aim of any reformation in the self. The fruit of the seed planted with care.