Greater consciousness. Greater awareness. That is the aim of any “true” spiritual path.
This awareness is not “collective” awareness. It is numberwise. Every individual will be awakening at different levels. Therefore, a spiritual path cannot be generalized as the only “method” which will fit everyone. “One size fits all,” may work in the physical realm but certainly it is not the case in spirituality.
Everything has a method. But that method changes according to the individual, that is why the “Guru” system came into an existence. There are teachings given to all but within that, there is a specific teaching for someone according to his level. To recognize the disciple’s capacity was the task of the master, teacher or guru.
Nowadays as everything is for the masses; religions and spiritual teachings have been made as “one size fits all,” for it is easier to put together a book or a CD or DVD with methods to be sold. If for an uncertain reason the method does not work, then the student is at fault; for these methods are “proven to be correct, sacred and holy.”
One the one hand, it is very important to follow a particular method which the spiritual aspirant trusts, have firm faith and feels comfortable with. If the disciple follows that method with this frame of mind, he will do his best and will reach a realization. On the other hand, if the disciple creates a dependency in the method as a reassurance that whatever he has obtained in his spiritual life is due to a particular practice or method, then that student will be stuck. Growth will finish.
A method is just a way to take someone into further realizations, into a different consciousness. True improvement will happen when a person is able to get to that level of consciousness without a method.
Spirituality is like having a piece of candy. The method will instruct someone on how to open the wrapping paper out of the candy, what to expect after that, what is the best time to eat the candy, what are the properties of that candy, etc.
This method could be surrounded by devotional practices such as bowing down to the candy 5 times before opening it, or offering the candy to God before doing anything, etc. Those are the devotional practices introduced to give a method certain sacredness, certain importance. That is fine.
Nevertheless, to be able to taste that candy in the consciousness taught by the method, will give us the right time to let the method go away.
Attachment to a method will not bring further progress, for there will not be openness to experience something else other than a learned method for fear of losing what has been experienced so far.
It is true that it requires a very special individual to follow wholeheartedly a particular method to gain greater awareness; but at the same time; it takes a different kind of person to let the method go away when it has served its purpose.
Spiritual growth happens when we realize that everything has a purpose and when we are able to know its “right” time.