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The five paths to enlightenment

Depending on the spiritual tradition, different spiritual methods are described as ways to move towards enlightenment. For example the Bhagavad Gita mentions the yogas: karma yoga, bhakti yoga and jnana yoga.

In one sense there are almost infinite paths to enlightenment as each path is unique to your life experience. But running through all paths towards enlightenment, there are five core themes in terms of the energetic path that is activated within your energy body that connect to a specific focus that can guide you towards self realisation. These are the path of the heart, the path of service, the path of worship, the path of surrender and the path of devotion.

These categorisations are described with modern language in mind so they are accessible for people from any tradition, and describe the true essence of what is pulling each seeker forward towards enlightenment in each case. The benefits and potential pitfalls of each path are also described. If you're going to choose a path, it's worth being prepared for what could get you stuck!

A path will often 'pick itself' for you through your life experiences but as a spiritual seeker there is an element of choice. If life hasn't clearly chosen a direction for you, you can choose a focus or two that feel right for you at this stage of your journey. If you are choosing a path to focus on, it is well worth considering which kinds of 'bad habit' you tend to fall into, because some paths may be more suitable to you than others.

All sincere spiritual journeys include elements of at least four of the five paths. The path of worship is a little different - whilst not everyone will identify with a religion, aspects of religious texts are likely to become interesting and worthy of study no matter which path you place more focus on.

The path of the heart

The path of the heart is following the guidance of the spiritual heart. To follow this path is to become a deep listener to the heart, inviting it to guide you towards compassionate action. Rather than holding a detached stance on it all, this path is much more involved with the emotions - there is an honouring of the wisdom of all emotions that arise. 'How can I be with my emotions without being attached to them?' All fears, sadness, anger etc that comes up within you along the journey, you practice holding them lovingly within yourself and being open to them delivering a deeper spiritual message that awakens you to the true nature of things. Living through the heart, one practices appreciating all living beings as sacred. You open your heart to the world, empathising with others and breaking down any barriers you find within yourself to loving unconditionally.

One of the greatest benefits of this path is that it is the easiest path to see the world as a benign place where people make mistakes but are fundamentally souls that are able to redeem themselves and are worthy of love. You find yourself able to connect deeply with people in ways that your former self may not have been able to and create beautiful bonds with others.

The path of the heart can also be a wonderful conduit to healing your own sense of unworthiness, pouring love into yourself. However many people get confused about how to love unconditionally and can end up giving more than they have the spiritual and physical energy for yet, leading to emotional burnout. More on this next:

Potential drawbacks:

If you're going to walk the path of the heart as a significant focus of your journey, in order to not be thrown out of balance there is a need to overcome naivety. Those who are attracted to this path initially are sometimes people for whom another path is ironically more suitable!

People who already identify as 'heart centred' 'highly sensitive', or 'empaths', may find themselves leaning in the direction of self abandonment. You're opening your heart so powerfully and realising that you are capable of extending so much love out to the world… but can you also give yourself that love? There must be a balance between giving to others and resting, nurturing yourself, upholding healthy boundaries and integrating the profound lessons of this path.

So now you're seeing people as souls everywhere you go, but how do you respond to their unconscious behaviours in the now? One of the heartbreaks of this path that everyone has to work through is that no matter how loving you become, no matter how pure your intentions, no matter how precise and perfect your actions are, not everyone is open to love, to help. Some may take advantage of your love and some will not be open to growing and learning. A big part of the path is getting comfortable with realising that no matter how gentle you are, no matter how much you are in touch with your own innocence and grace….not everyone is going to get it. You cannot save the world from every form of suffering. There will still be people who are so disconnected from their own sense of empathy that cause enormous hurt and destruction to others (and themselves). You may be able to shift the direction of the world in a positive way through your actions but suffering will still exist. Even your loved ones, close friends, family members…. They may not choose to open their hearts like you have chosen.

It can be painful on this path, when one discovers the incredible beauty of connecting with other souls so deeply, to realise when there still needs to be boundaries in the physical world. There will be times when you need to say no when the other person is pressing you to say yes, when you need to tell someone a painful truth or tell them what they are doing is morally not okay. People may get angry at you, say hurtful words, or reject you, even when you are doing the right thing, even if your actions come from enlightened consciousness! You have to learn how to not take others' reactions personally - to see them neutrally within the context of where that person is at in their own spiritual journey.

When you can see someone as a soul, see their divine self shining back at you, it can trigger deep abandonment wounds when you have to distance yourself in the physical plane from someone you love in order to respect and care for yourself, or when they distance themselves from you because they don't know how to be in the presence of love.

On this path, it's likely that during its course, as you become connected with the ability to be deeply loving and create deep soul-to-soul connections with others, that quite a few people will attach to you in a codependent way. You may find others trying to pull you in different directions. People are likely to want to take things that it would not be healthy for you to give. You'll have to practice maintaining very firm boundaries in order to not drain your resources (money, time, emotional reserves, physical energy etc).

On the path of the heart, you also get to learn very discerningly the different 'flavours' of forgiveness. People on this path can develop a very idealistic stance about the human condition, believing all people can be welcomed with open arms if you can be forgiving enough. But forgiveness is not always about giving someone another chance in the physical world. Sometimes it is, and a highly awakened person can open that door to a renewed relationship and that can be a profo2undly healing and positive thing. Other times, it is for the highest good for two people to stay apart on the physical plane! Peace can always be made with the past, and you can hold forgiveness in your heart towards the person who wronged you, but it may not be wise to let a person back in just because you mastered grace!

The path of the heart is one of the paths that is most likely to have great emotional highs and lows. For mental wellbeing, there needs to be practices and perspectives that allow you to be in touch with your emotions but still be grounded, and see things from a neutral perspective.

At this time where so much injustice and self centeredness has manifested on Earth, a secondary path is always needed to supplement the path of the heart in order to support the processing of strong emotions, for any soul to attain full enlightenment.

The path of service

The path of service is one of dedicating yourself to helping others to free themselves from suffering.

On this path, the divine quality of humbleness is perhaps easier to master because you are offering up your life to serve others.

Oneness is another divine quality which can be easier to get in touch with by following this path. As your path evolves, you may come to the place where you recognise 'there are no others'. Yes, we are separate in physical form, but we are all souls. Everyone is an emanation of consciousness, everyone is sacred, everyone is connected. The highest form of service is when you no longer hold the goal to serve a particular person but to serve the field of consciousness, to become part of awareness expanding itself. Then your service becomes service to whatever is the highest good in this moment. In this state of consciousness, one's ego self has dissolved and one flows seamlessly with all of creation.

Some spiritual paths tend to lead the person away from the world into solitude - perhaps joining a monastery, meditating in a remote place like a cave or the jungle or simply having a more introverted lifestyle in whatever setting. An advantage of the path of service for some is that it sets a course for awakening whilst still being in the world. Walking the path of service is becoming a living answer to the question: 'How do I be in a consistent state of meditation whilst relating with others?'

Potential drawbacks:

To serve others as a way to get towards enlightenment, you have to learn how to serve others. There is the purifying of intentions: You can't be serving others because it makes you look good to the outside world. You can't be serving others because it's going to make you rich (you can charge money for your services, but the quality of serving others has to be the deeper motive. That's a nuanced conversation, how do you play the game of making money whilst loving others?). Okay, so you're serving people because you want to love. To melt into love and let your actions be a statement of that.

Then, you can be serving a cause that isn't actually the best use of your energy - and that could even accumulate negative karma and pull you in the opposite direction of awakening. For example you're devoting your time to sweeping the floor at your temple, but you didn't open your eyes wide enough to see that the temple you are giving your service to is actually a cult with a leader who abuses his followers! That kind of thing still does happen to some people on the spiritual journey.

It's essential in order to make good progress on this path, to take care to be very discerning of who you are serving and how. To do that you have to have some inner pieces in place: you need to become aware of any places in yourself where you may have any motivations that might stop you from seeing people for who they are or seeing situations for how they truly are. For example, many people are to some degree codependent on authority or institutions. They find it threatening to confront that perhaps those institutions may not be so perfect, and that there might even be corruption within an organisation, or perhaps one particular person who is within that organisation which is untrustworthy. Many people want to believe people are basically 'good' and things are going 'okay'. It can take a willingness to face your fears to admit to yourself that someone or something isn't trustworthy or there might be something deeper going on than meets the eye that's worth exploring.

If you're seriously wanting to love others and serve them there must be an inner willingness to intentionally look for the best ways to help others. It could mean saying no to a venture your best friend or your beloved wants you to join them in, if that doesn't sit right in your soul. It could mean being willing to research organisations without bias before committing to supporting their cause. To really be a conduit or service you gotta get connected with your gut instinct. (Learning how to muscle test is of great benefit here - approaching life decisions by muscle testing 'is doing this for the highest good?'. Once you're practiced and accurate at the muscle testing thing, this is the most effective way to check you are aligning with the highest good in your decision making).

Another trap people can get stuck in on the path of service is getting identified with the role of helper/healer. It's one thing to perform the healing actions, and another to create an ego identity, 'I am a healer'. That can do some imbalancing things to you. For some people 'I am a healer' means they think they always have to be 'on' and they aren't deserving of love and support from others. You become destructively self-sacrificing. For other people it can go in the other direction 'I am a healer, therefore I am always right'. Maintaining the social status of being a 'healer' can end up coming before the wellbeing of the people you are helping.

When you're deeper in the journey you are also confronted with 'can I give up serving other people as a self-punishing thing?'. 'I'm bad, so I have to do more for others to be a good person'; A lot of people carry that attitude towards themselves, that they think they have to 'earn their goodness'. You help not because you are trying to give yourself a hard time, but because you feel connected to a vast love for all living beings. (Maybe some days your compassion doesn't extend to all living beings! But there is a sense that the world is sacred and you have love for humanity, for animals, for nature, for someone outside yourself). Sometimes the person you most need to serve is yourself. This path is also of being of service to yourself, making wise, self-compassionate choices. Replenishing yourself is absolutely necessary in order for you to help others most effectively. The time spent caring for yourself helps you to connect with your inner wisdom and can strengthen your energy field so that you emanate healing energy towards others more powerfully without 'doing' anything. Your mere presence being in any situation becomes more powerful - perhaps it has a soothing or inspiring effect upon others. The person who is of the highest service is not necessarily the person who looks like they did the most on paper. Service is not always connected with a big project or official organisation. You can serve each person you come into contact with, perhaps in a small way such as smiling at a stranger on the street, or listening with compassion to a loved one who is having a difficult time. Stroking your friendly neighborhood cat could be an act of service. It is the inner attitude with which you serve, how deeply present you are with each interaction, that makes the greatest difference.

In this path there is a need to be aware of giving yourself what you actually need for optimal wellbeing. Caring for the health of the body and mind is an essential part of being able to sustain long term to have enough reserves to give to others. You, yourself are as sacred as anyone else you are serving. It's especially unwise to neglect one's own self care needs at this time of ascension when the energy body is upgrading rapidly in most awakened people.

The path of worship

The path of worship is one of following a traditional religious path.

With a religion, this is usually the easiest path to have a community to support you. Others are following a similar path and there are social structures to find such people - e.g. churches, ashrams, community events, religious festivals etc.

Another advantage of worship is that you can start now. People on a nontraditional spiritual journey may take years piecing together their ideas and beliefs before they feel able to get a sense of the big picture or commit to any consistent practice or way of living. It could take them years to even realise they are on a spiritual journey! On the path of worship there is a defined path already available with detailed instructions and guidance set out.

Some souls have made an agreement to be attracted to a particular religion so they can learn about it and also maybe learn soul lessons about a specific community/ culture.

Potential drawbacks:

Following religious doctrine can lead to judging others that live in different ways. People can get very caught up in a particular part of a religious teaching and use it as a justification to criticise others and shame them, rather than focusing on the essence (love) which is what all major religions intended to point to.

Another potential drawback is that you could feel limited in terms of discussing your true thoughts and feelings with members of your religious community, depending on how open minded they are. Some religious communities are still intolerant of various groups and inner experiences. There can be enormous shame for people being authentic to who they are e.g. their sexuality, gender identity, their past choices or for holding 'heretic' views. If a religion is to be truly centred in love it must hold space for people to have questions about teachings or to disagree on certain issues. People must be free to develop their own relationship with the religion.

Another potential pitfall of this path is you can be going through the motions, going to the mosque or temple every holy day, observing all the rules… but without seeing the deeper 'why'. You're doing what you're 'supposed' to be doing, but you aren't doing it with your heart. The person who adheres most strictly to religious rites is not necessarily the most devout in their heart to the essence of love.

In the Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, one thing that keeps people stuck spiritually on this path is the idea that God is outside of you and separate from you, when in truth you are as much an expression of God as everything else. To fully understand the nature of reality, one needs to see divinity within themselves without this being falsely self-perceived as sinful. Buddhism and Hinduism as they are currently taught also have their own errors in understanding that come from misunderstandings of the original teachings.

One also needs to realise that whilst religious texts or teachers can offer wisdom, ultimate wisdom can be found within yourself. All valuable wisdom that has been written down and shared comes from somewhere - it is part of the blueprint of the universe, which you yourself can access directly through listening deeply.

All religious texts run the risk of being compromised. Translations can contain errors - one word translated poorly or incorrectly can change the whole perceived meaning of a teaching. The original writer of ancient scriptures is not alive to explain the true intended meaning. The institutions built around the original teachings also often get compromised by political and cultural conflicts and the purity and power of the original teachings becomes weakened. The original teacher may have been teaching enlightened consciousness (Level of Consciousness 700-1000) but the way that a religious community operates and teaches the religious teachings could be not from a particularly high Level of Consciousness. Most religious institutions at this time on Earth operate from the 100s - 400s in terms of their Level of Consciousness. They have strayed 'far from home'.

If you want to be a true follower of Christ, of the Buddha, of Krishna etc…meditate and ask to be connected to their loving energy field. Ask their presence, which you can connect to regardless of time and space, to teach you what they understand about love, about peace, about the nature of reality. Work on having a direct relationship with that teacher in your heart.

The path of worship is always a stepping stone. Worship alone can only ever get you to 800 on the Scale of Consciousness and it's often extremely difficult to get above 600. (1000 is total Enlightenment). Worship has to become non-denominational devotion in order to get to full enlightenment - going straight to God/divine forces/the soul for guidance rather than referring to doctrine as the primary instruction. There must be the recognition that no religion has remained pristine - all religions have become less powerful in terms of the loving influence they exert on the world… but also that there is truth in all the major religions. All authentic root teachers of religions (e.g Jesus in Christianity, Gautama Buddha in Buddhism etc) were pointing to the same thing in different styles, amidst different cultural contexts.

The path of surrender

The path of surrender is living your life from an inner state where you, at any moment, are willing to let go of everything that is not of the highest good.

The three main things to surrender in order to get to enlightenment are false beliefs, attachments and aversions. When you get to the place where you are willing to surrender everything (including your own life) there is nothing left to see then but ultimate truth.

This of course, can make the path sound incredibly intimidating. 'I have to give it all up, now?' In reality, it is an unpeeling of layers. Whatever the next step is, you just have to be ready to unpeel the next layer of the onion. You don't have to give up everything in the outward world and become a monk to be in the state of surrender. It could be that the next step in this moment for you is to surrender a judgment you notice within yourself whilst you are working to resolve a conflict between your co-workers. It could be that you're trying to assemble your new wardrobe without the instructions and it's not going so well and then you surrender to see the truth: 'I have no idea what I'm doing!' and go look for the piece of paper to show you what to do. Maybe in that moment you're surrendering stubbornness or some other inner quality of resistance.

One advantage to this path is that surrender is probably the easiest path to get an accurate self assessment of where you're at (without calibrating yourself with muscle testing to see where you sit on the Scale of Consciousness). You can ask 'would I be willing to give this up, if it were for the highest good?'


Would I be willing to give up my job?

Would I be willing to give up my romantic relationship?

Would I be willing to give up trying to control this situation?

Would I be willing to give up being 'right'?

Would I be willing to give up my anger?

You can see where you would struggle, where you would experience suffering. Don't be ashamed of what you feel afraid to give up, if you can help it. Shame just adds more to the mix. If you're still ashamed, that's okay, pour love into the shame. It's okay to be ashamed. It's okay to be afraid.

The path of surrender is like facing a series of mini-deaths and endings (and some larger ones). It is becoming comfortable with endings, with gracefully letting go and seeing what is reborn from the ashes. What is reborn, if the path is followed sincerely, is greater levels of connection with your true essence. As the ego self is laid forth to die, the soul remembers its radiant aliveness. This series of endings, letting go's, deaths, prepares one well for the moment of physical death where everything that is not the soul, must go! Willingly surrendering at the moment of physical death is the only way to ensure the best possible outcome for your next incarnation… or whether you may even transcend the cycle of rebirth and enter nirvana.

Potential drawbacks:

There are very few major drawbacks in terms of spiritual progress but this path can be very challenging. Many people find themselves on this path by 'accident' when they lose something important to them that they have no control over such as the death of a loved one, losing a home in a natural disaster or being abandoned.

Another pitfall is that after getting accustomed to letting go of things that aren't serving you, some people end up depriving themself of things that are beneficial for them. Surrender is a state of being, not necessarily about having to give away everything in the material world. People can get obsessed with depriving themselves but really that's a form of attachment too. You're afraid of having things because you're afraid of losing them again or you're afraid of being attached, ashamed of the essential nature of the ego. Those are things to work through too.

Another potential trap is that surrendering possessions or habits can become externally motivated. Rather than it being an act of wanting to free yourself, it can be a method of getting approval from others, perhaps other spiritual seekers. 'Look at me, look how good I am for giving up this and that! I gave up buying my clothes first-hand, I gave up processed food, I gave up swearing, I went to a Vipassana retreat and gave up talking for ten whole days!' Perhaps giving up seeking approval was really the thing it would be for the highest good for this person to surrender!

Sometimes forcing deprivation on yourself can bring up trauma that you can't integrate and can slow down the whole journey to self-realisation. To really get what surrender is about, one must realise it is always an inward surrender. You are surrendering some quality of the ego up, to be dissolved into awareness, into peace. What you end up surrendering externally as a result of this internal shift is more of a side effect, not the practice itself.

True surrender could be something like this:

I surrender my old ideas about this situation to be open to seeing the truth.

I surrender trying to control this situation - I am open to new solutions I can't see yet.

I surrender any judgements I might have about this person so I can see them honestly.

I surrender up my suffering - I am open to healing.

There are times when genuinely surrendering does require the follow through to let go of certain physical forms. Maybe the natural result of surrendering to the truth of a relationship ends up showing you that it's best to end it. Maybe surrender shows you that the job you are working is just not compatible with the path you're walking - the job is causing more suffering to the planet than alleviating and that's not something you want to be a part of, karmically. Not letting go of the physical forms at this point would just be a signpost that you haven't really fully surrendered. Other times surrender is purely inward, and the outward response to the world and what to do about the situation is 'I don't know yet. Let's see what happens.'

Eventually on the path of surrender, you realise you can work with forms, that you can own physical possessions and that is not karmically an issue so long as they do not own you.

The path of devotion

The path of devotion is a path of committing oneself to the embodiment of divine, enlightened qualities (e.g. 'peace', 'strength', 'authenticity' 'benevolence' 'courage' 'acceptance' etc).

By focusing on these divine qualities that the mind perceives as positive, this can reduce fear during the awakening process - it is a 'looking towards the light' path. You are looking towards the essence of who you already are as a soul, focusing on remembering and embodying these qualities of your divine Self.

By seeking out living examples of these qualities, such as genuinely enlightened persons and spiritual texts, and noticing these qualities when they arise in others, you envelop yourself in the energetic field of high levels of consciousness, pointers towards your divine nature.

If one finds a genuine guru, a high level of genuine devotion to them will 'speedrocket' a person towards enlightenment. A good example of 'the student becoming master' is Ram Dass's devotion to Neem Karoli Baba (Maharaj-ji). Ram Dass went on to become enlightened himself because his heart was deeply open to the teachings and love that emanated from his guru.

Of course not everyone finds a living enlightened teacher that they can physically spend time with. It is not at all necessary to do so, although it is a great blessing if this is possible, and if such an enlightened teacher is found, you have found the high speed train to God! But, it is important to note that it is much preferable to walk your path without a guru than to seek a guru for the sake of it and end up following a false guru (one who is not embodied in enlightened consciousness). Still, there may be many teachers along the way who themselves admit they are not enlightened, but can show you certain pieces of the puzzle. If you are sincere about your awakening and you have such non-enlightened teachers, be prepared to outgrow them or change your relationship to their teachings - you may advance to a place where it is no longer helpful to put them in the role of teacher, or to take their advice with a very large pinch of salt!

Potential drawbacks

One of the most serious potential pitfalls of devotion is that one can become devoted to a 'fake guru'. If you are attached to the idea that they are enlightened, when they are not (and they may be embodying a very low level of consciousness), you can start believing that whatever they do, whatever they say, that is what enlightenment is. You use them as a reference point, a compass towards enlightenment but the compass is totally off - metaphorically, instead of taking you to the North Pole, straight towards Brahman, they are taking you to Timbuktu!

People who end up following a false guru, it is always because of some ego attachment the person has. Often the person is seeking a parent figure in the false guru, or finds something about the guru attractive in a way that fills a long standing fantasy they have. People who are longing for love and acceptance from others and that do not feel connected to a strong sense of self respect and self awareness may be to various levels taken in by a charismatic spiritual 'leader' (mis-leader!). Sometimes you may stumble across a teacher and their teachings make sense on a rational level, but over time immersing yourself in their work, something feels off. The person who is not attached to the 'teacher' will listen to these niggles and observe the teacher with a detached neutrality. They may unpack their own stuff - is there anything in me that could be projecting onto this person? What about this person doesn't feel right? Or can I see any red flags that they may be untrustworthy?

Ideally you would muscle test the Level of Consciousness of any spiritual teacher before engaging with their work in any significant way. If their Level of Consciousness and the Level of Consciousness of their teachings over the last year is 700 or above, you have found yourself an enlightened teacher. If their Level of Consciousness and the Level of Consciousness of their teachings over the last year is 500-699 then you may have found yourself a helpful guide along the path. Nobody in this stage of worldwide ascension should be putting themselves in the role of spiritual teacher or offering any spiritual healing services (spiritual coaching, energy healing, facilitating healing circles etc) unless they are embodied at the Level of Consciousness 500 or above in their work as it is out of integrity to do so and accumulates negative karma.

If a person opens themselves to a false guru and becomes attached to them, this depth of codependency on the 'guru' can be hard to shake. They may become sucked into a cult or cult-like culture around the false guru and invest much time, energy and/or money into following the false guru's teachings.

The seriousness of following a false guru is to be emphasised - it can act as poison to your whole life. Even if the guru says things that make sense on paper, if the false guru themselves has dodgy dealings behind the scenes, this can massively affect the energy field they emanate out towards others and this can give you an extremely warped perception of what enlightenment is, of what love is. (The dodgy dealings could perhaps be abuse-of-power sexual trysts with devotees whilst claiming to be celibate, immoral conduct related to money (whether legal or criminal), other crimes, or simply being cruel and selfish towards people in their personal life whilst publically 'teaching love'). When you open yourself with attachment towards a false guru you may let your energetic shield down - your energy body does not hold itself in a healthy vibrational pattern and becomes more likely to absorb low vibrational energies from the people around you. The false guru has an incredibly toxic energy field - imitating being an enlightened person when you are not is one of the worst things you can do karmically. If the person keeps thinking 'this person is enlightened, I should follow their every word' they start training the brain to think that these toxic low vibrational energies the guru is emitting from their body are normal or even 'holy'. As a result, the person sees other toxic people as 'safe and familiar' and is likely to surround themselves with other people who share similar delusions or end up in very unhealthy personal relationships. Depending on the situation, the spiritual student could even end up accumulating large amounts of negative karma by following the false guru blindly and performing destructive actions towards themselves and others.

This is why it's better to be devoted to qualities like 'love', 'peace' or 'liberation' themselves since these are energies which cannot be captured or manipulated by any one person. If you, with a sincere heart, ask to come closer to being a living embodiment of these divine qualities, it will happen.

The other main pitfall of the path of devotion is that if you create a false mental perception of what these divine qualities are, you could end up living out this distorted idea rather than the sacred quality in its true essence. For example maybe your mother was an addict, and you spent your childhood bailing her out of sticky situations she got herself into. Maybe as a result of that, subconsciously you think that to love is to rescue people and protect them from the negative consequences of their decisions. Your trying to be more loving could become confused and you end up in a relationship with someone who acts impulsively, banking on the track record that you always try to save them from trouble and make excuses for them. They could use you as a way to avoid taking responsibility for their decisions and you may get sucked into this familiar pattern. Yet, when you are open to your perception of love expanding, then you could realise that the most loving thing you can do is to let them face the consequences of their actions, to let them face lessons as a soul. You could realise that it is more loving for you to spend your energy on people who are going to appreciate you, and pass that love onto others. Your awareness and actions have moved closer to a true understanding of love.

To live the path of devotion, you have to be open to your understanding of what it means to embody these qualities changing. Your understanding of what it means to love, to be peaceful, to be courageous, will deepen throughout the journey. A humble intention like 'I want to learn how to be more loving' or 'I want to learn how to be more peaceful' is all that is needed to keep you connecting the dots in a genuine way.

A note on the path of the mind

There is also a sixth path which has been mentioned in various spiritual texts: it could be called 'the path of the mind' or 'the path of contemplation'. However I would not recommend this as a main path to anyone seriously pursuing enlightenment or even spiritual awakening. The mind itself must be transcended - it can only take you so far as it itself must be surrendered up in order for illuminated consciousness to occur.

At this time, this path of contemplation alone is not enough for anyone to overcome ancestral trauma stored in the body, or to counter the conditioning spiritual students are bombarded with from people who claim to be spiritual experts but misunderstand fundamental spiritual truths.

'It has been said that the pathway of the mind is not suitable for most seekers during this Kali Yuga (an eon, or 58,000 years of one complete revolution of the Zodiac) as there are too many worldly distractions'. - Dr David Hawkins

On the path of the mind, students in this age are likely to think that they are more prepared than they truly are because they 'know' a lot in terms of knowledge. They may have read many spiritual books, worked with spiritual coaches (or perhaps even become one!), gone to talks and workshops and retreats, surrounded themselves with others to have stimulating discussions with… But are they truly embodying the big stuff or are they becoming addicted to ingesting more and more ideas?

The path of the mind tends to indulge rational thinking too much - you get drawn to systems of thinking, but are you listening to your intuition? Are you putting things in a conceptual category rather than expanding into seeing things as they are, with all their nuance and complexity? Is having 'clever, spiritual thoughts' getting in the way of being able to be truly present, to silence the mind and let truth reveal itself from that inner silence?

For example, let's take a system of thinking: the personality test MBTI. It's something that I enjoyed using myself. I spent years learning about the sixteen types, the Jungian cognitive functions. When I was walking about on the street I would look at people and think things like 'Oh, that guy is so ENFP… she looks like an ESTJ'. I could often tell how to appeal to people by certain giveaways in their body language and words as to what type they might be. From a social skills point of view it was very useful. I had many fascinating conversations with other people playing with that framework, exploring our ideas about the world. It was a positive framework for me, what it did for my life and my relationships. But there also came a point where it lost its appeal. Because not everything could be explained by those four letters. If someone went around thinking about me decidedly 'she's an INFJ personality type, therefore she must be like this, and she must be doing this because of this…'. Well, they would probably get me very wrong at least some of the time. They would be putting me in a box and creating limitations for themselves in how much they were able to truly see me.

There were lots of things I found in common with other people that shared my personality type and lots of things I found people generally had in common with other people of their type… but not everything about ourselves fit into neat little boxes. There were also within each personality type, things that were considered their general limitations… 'this type tends to not be so good at this, they often have this flaw…'. And as I transcended these limitations within myself and saw others do the same, I realised that they often described the personality of someone who had only reached a certain level of consciousness. At the highest levels of consciousness, those limitations were dust. They didn't exist anymore.

You could say similar things about astrology, or another system. Maybe part of someone's chart really does describe them well, but does that tell you everything about them? No!

People can take a system and create a rationale for why something is the way it is, and it might sound reasonable on paper but in real life it could be only partially true, or it could be completely wrong!

Only your soul, heard through your intuition, can connect directly to the energies of the universe and accurately read the truth of a situation in its entirety. Theories can work well where there's clear observable data like in scientific research. But when it comes to the big spiritual questions, where there is no laboratory that can test these ideas in that fashion, you really need to get beyond your mind and connect to that intuitive wisdom. If you're invested too much in a theory, everything gets funneled through that system and you're less likely to see truth that contradicts the system you have become attached to.

Another pitfall of the path of the mind is that it does little to help you to let go of the ego's universal addiction to thinking. You can be in this space where you feel basically okay if you can come up with a positive thought or clever theory to explain what's happening or find a solution… but what if you get to a place where you're stumped? None of the explanations you have in front of you make sense, none of the recommended solutions feel right… you've got to turn to something deeper.

If you can't find the answer through your thoughts, you have to let go to let a more powerful answer arrive from a place of inner silence. That's where surrendering to the truth comes in: 'okay, this isn't working, I'm letting go of my old models of how things are supposed to work'... That's where devotion to acceptance and self love comes in: 'I accept that I don't know right now, and that's okay', that's where holding compassion for yourself in your heart is immensely powerful. These other paths can play a part in the way you deal with a situation. Contemplation can be a helpful addition but it is going to hit some massive hurdles that only its friends, the other paths, can get you over. The mind being in control of the whole operation… that's got to go.


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