Is Your Spiritual Practice Worth The Effort?

What do you hope to gain from spiritual development? Is it a practice that will benefit you in any way? And is it worth the time you have to invest into it? To answer these questions, we have to become clear about two things. First, about the you (the ego) that you identify with and secondly what a benefit to that ego structure actually is on a fundamental level.

In other words, gaining clarity about what you are and how spiritual practice can benefit you, in the context of this new understanding. With a clear understanding about the ego and what can benefit is, are you able to create a solid basis of motivation for your spiritual practice.

Who is dreaming?

What you are

The idea of being a separate entity is something that developed over time in your early childhood. As you learned to separate one part of your experience from another, you gained the ability to survive. For basic survival it is necessary to make the distinction between you and other, so that you are able to distinguish between beneficial and harmful objects. We get so used to this helpful distinction that we no longer recognize that we even do it. Once we have become more or less conscious beings we have already many years of training in this way of perception under our belts. To perceive our true nature, the consciousness that contains all of experience, we have to overcome this automatic function of our nervous system. And that requires work. That realization brings us to the second point. When we see that the ego is fundamentally no more than an automatic response of the nervous system to distinguish between self and other, the question of a benefit for that distinction becomes even more interesting.

Your life in one goal

One way to look at what you are trying to achieve in all activities is to define it as the striving for benefits for yourself. But what is a benefit?

A benefit to a subject can be defined as circumstances that support its persistence and as something that helps to overcome obstacles to its survival. For biological systems this is obvious in our needs for food, water and staying physically intact.

Spiritual work though happens in the mental sphere. The ego is not limited to the physical level. Much of it's survival requires certain mental behavior. And here we come to the point where the question of receiving a benefit out of spiritual practice gets to the root of what spirituality is. When the goal of spiritual work is to overcome the separation between self and other and to eliminate the illusion of an individual ego, than we are exactly doing the opposite of what we defined above as a benefit.

Successful waking up eliminates that thing that could receive a benefit. Certainly the thing we identify with when we ask this question. Even though that thing always was an illusion to begin with. Which is the reason all of our effots to achieve lasting happiness for that illusory ego are predetermined to fail. Something that has no substance can't hold on to any lasting circumstances that would lead to happiness.

Trading the ego for the solution?

So why then engage in spiritual practice? Why spend all the time and effort on something that is of no benefit?

The solution that spiritual enlightenment promises to deliver is simple but uncommon and generally not easy to achieve. Enlightenment eliminates the illusion of being an autonomous and separated identity that has the need to mold it's experience to it's benefit. In enlightenment there is not a hint of resistance left over. No resistance to whatever is arising. No struggling, no effort. A natural flowing in and out of the emptiness that is the center of the universe.