Silence. Pure silence.
That's how I ideally like to respond to queries about my spiritual journey. With sweet, beautiful silence.
There's nothing to say, really. Or rather, the only thing to say is nothing.
It is, after all, to be experienced. To become. And finally -- to be. Just be.
But if I had to choose one word, just that one word to describe it, it would be Shunya (a Sanskrit term with no real equivalent in English, the closest approximation being Zero). Or its noun form, Shunyata -- zero-ness.
For that is the essence of this journey.
It is the process of getting to that state of zero-ness. Of peeling off the layers, of returning to source, to self. And it is from this void -- the null point, which is simultaneously nothing, and everything, that all creativity emerges. The greater the void, the greater the potential for the creation of the 'new.' But to reach that state, you first have to rid yourself of external paraphernalia. The ego-identifications of family, wealth, career, education, intelligence, attractiveness, yada, yada, yada.
Who am I, after all? Am I my business card? Or my residential address? Or any of the vehicles I might own? Am I my relationships? And what happens when these leave my life? What then? What remains after all these leave, or, are taken away?
I am a very fortunate person. For, although I wasn't wise enough to initiate this process on my own, a greater intelligence has, through this entire lifetime, guided and steered my life in a particular direction. For the longest time, through my twenties, I was like an unwilling child kicking his arms and legs, throwing tantrums at this invisible hand that seemed to be pulling my life completely away from the grand plans I had for myself.
But what does one do with the gnawing angst, the unhappiness in the midst of these glamorous milestones? I was supposed to feel on top of the world. Why was the actual experience quite to the contrary?
One of my early adulthood goals was getting into a top-notch business school. And was I in a hurry! I got into the London Business School when I just turned 25. I was amongst the youngest on campus at the time. And then what? I found I had no interest at all in attending the presentations made by the seemingly glittering I-Banks and Management Consulting firms, leave alone applying to them. Sure, I could look the part, and play the part, but that's precisely what it would be -- playing the part.
Definitely not okay.
So, I decided not to apply for a role anywhere and instead set aside (what I thought would be) a six-month period to introspect. What unfolded however was a crazy roller-coaster ride that assumed a life of its own and snowballed into a deep, intense spiritual journey that wouldn't let me quit half-way! My whole life turned topsy-turvy and how! Each and every assumption I had about myself was smashed to smithereens. It was a scene of complete annihilation. I was, very simply, out at sea, experiencing the long, dark night of the soul, with several old ego-based structures in my life literally bombed out of existence. The mind's attachment to form brings in its wake a lot of suffering, and this was, to understate it, a gloomy, depressing time. I no longer knew who or what I was. Everything I had thought I was had been destroyed.
Then, another phase kicked in. The destruction mostly over, this was now a period where everything was suddenly very still and quiet. A period of convalescence, of much-needed rest and calm to heal, after the tumultuous storm had passed. Stillness speaks, they say. And so it did. This has been a time of making sense of the seeming nonsense, of attaining a state of more and more mindfulness, of a steadily increasing meditative quality and tone to my life.
Of course, like all good dramas, where it's no fun knowing the plot before it unfolds, I didn't know (until recently) that this process had been documented in detail by medieval alchemists in Europe, or in more recent times, by Carl Jung. I found out they had a term for it -- spiritual (or esoteric) alchemy -- a process that kicks off when a soul is ripe for a quantum leap in its evolution.
Spiritual metamorphosis. From lead to gold.
So what's next in this journey? A life-long work-in-progress endeavor, to be sure. However, I do think it is now time for the caterpillar to break out of its cocoon, metamorphose into the vibrant butterfly, spread its wings and fly afar, bringing new energy, color and cheer all around.
For too long has there been an imbalance between the yin and the yang -- in each of us, and consequently the world. The spiritual and material worlds have tended to almost exist mutually exclusive of each other. Not so any more. I see the dynamic phase of my spiritual growth as one that will bring me more and more into a state of balance as I contribute, in my own way, to help bring about a greater sense of balance in the world through the work I do. A positive feedback loop.
Exciting times! Bring it on!