We are conditioned in our consumer culture to believe that if we want
something, we can just go to the store and buy it. At the same time we know
that anything worth having is worth working for. Going to the store to buy
something we want may be the culmination of a long time of saving enough
money to do that. Of course, many things are bought on credit these days, so
there is the illusion of instant gratification.
Fortunately, we can't buy enlightenment on credit. We have to earn it
through our bhakti and persistent dedication to daily practice. Then we will
have something that transcends the limitations of time and space. We become
While spiritual maturity is only about living in the now, it takes time to
arrive at where we already are. There can be many instances of instant
gratification along the way, if not the whole thing. Life with spiritual
practices in the picture will be improving step-by-step, with many small
miracles occurring, and some big ones too.
So it will be with our actions in daily living. While we'd like to see our
actions instantly elevated to the level of enlightenment, it is a journey,
an evolution. As with all evolution, we begin where we are today, and take
the next step. And, ultimately, the gaining of enlightenment is giving it
away. The less we need it, the more of it we will have
(see Lesson 120). Until then, our journey will
be an evolutionary cycle of desire, action and opening, leading to more
desire, action and opening.
Before spiritual practices, our journey will tend to be circular, at least
from the standpoint of spiritual progress. We may lead a very productive
life in the material sense, build up a big bank account, have many material
things, and so on. But, at the end, we will feel like we did in the
beginning, wanting something more.
There is always time for spiritual progress, even with our last breath. But
because human spiritual transformation is a journey of inner purification
and opening, it behooves us to start as early as possible and make the best
use of the time we have. Rome was not built in a day!
The first truly evolutionary step in our action is to undertake daily
practices. It is not such a big thing, only a few minutes of sitting in
deep meditation morning and evening. That is all it takes to get the ball
rolling. Of course, before we make the commitment to practices, there must
be the desire, some bhakti stirring inside, something within us that says,
"There must be more than this."
If we act on it, we will find out that there is more a lot more.
So the evolution of action begins in earnest with a commitment to daily
spiritual practices. Then we will find ourselves moving in a forward
direction as inner silence begins to rise within us. Then it is a new ball
game. We go from traveling in circles to traveling more in a straight line
in the direction our inner longing takes us. The straight line is a cycle
also, an ever-widening one of purification and opening.
Eventually we will transcend the longing itself, and divine energy will be
flowing outward from us instead of the wanting flowing constantly inward.
That is when we will have crossed the tipping point of enlightenment, when
the inner flow has shifted and we are no longer seeking it, but giving it
Then the cycle of desire and action takes on a new dynamic, a constant
outpouring of the divine. The outpouring is its own journey, and its own
destination. The label enlightenment may be stamped on it by outside
observers, but there will be no proclamation from the one who is fully
engaged in it. There is no one to proclaim, except the flow of
The guru is in you.
Karma Yoga Related Lessons Topic Path
Wilber Related Lessons Topic Path
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Note: For detailed
discussion on how karma can be transcended and transformed to an unending
outpouring of divine love, see the
Bhakti and Karma Yoga book,
and AYP Plus.