When people ask me for advice, I try to remember what brought about the transformation in my life so I can recommend the same path to them.
But even though I remember what I did, and I remember what happened, it’s difficult to know whether one thing caused the other.
In my heart of hearts, when I ask intuitively what caused this change to come upon me, I believe it happened for two main reasons:
1. I wanted it to happen.
2. I was open to it.
There has to be some sort of desire for God or enlightenment. This desire can manifest in various forms. In me, it was mainly a desire to find out, “What is of supreme importance?” I was also intrigued by goodness and my lack of it. I think also I had felt an intuition of the Divine since I was a boy and it attracted me. The desire can take other forms. It can be a desire for truth, a desire for wholeness, a desire for love. The desire is necessarily going to be muddled and partial because we’re not enlightened yet when it arises in us. But I think this desire, in whatever form it takes, is the engine or fuel that makes the process happen. The Goddess once told me that the desire for God is God, and that it automatically fulfills itself. When she said “desire for God” she meant a desire for something holy, something that is part of enlightenment. She didn’t mean a super duper person sitting on a cloud. You can be an atheist and feel that sort of desire for God. In fact I was an atheist when this process began for me.
When I say I was open to the process, I mean that I was willing to be surprised by what happened. I was willing to be disoriented and knocked off my feet. I was willing to have experiences that I didn’t understand. There was a softness, an understanding that I wasn’t in control. Ultimately, one day, you have to be willing to let your mind — which seems to be you — dissolve.
So the best instructions I can give people, the most truthful instructions, are (1) want it and (2) be soft and open.
These instructions are vague, hard to put into practice, and difficult to teach. The more precise an instruction, the more mechanical the sadhana, the easier it is to teach and practice. This is why most spiritual teachings are precise and mechanical. It’s a hell of a lot easier to teach somebody to sit in a certain position or visualize a flower in their heart, than it is to teach them to desire something or surrender.
But the vague, difficult instructions are the ones that really matter.
P.S. You also need to be honest with yourself.
P.P.S. The first time I wrote this post, it came out spontaneously in a Skype conversation with a friend. Maybe that version is better. I wrote:
I wondered to myself, “I want to tell him the honest honest truth, the real way this hapened to me, how did this happen to me, what should I tell him?”
And I thought something like — it doesn’t sound right when I put it in words — but I don’t know how else to say it — it really comes out wrong — “You have to want God very badly and you have to open yourself up and fall apart.”