Spirals

I once heard this story about BB King. Maybe you have heard of him. He was on of the blues guitar greats. He was an inspiration to many current day guitarists. One time a couple of blues guitarists gathered. Amongst them were big names like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. Of course when these gathered they started jamming. They were trading licks and playing the greatest riffs. BB King though had put his guitar aside and was watching the others. At a certain time someone asked him why he wasn’t joining in the jam, why he wasn’t playing himself. Most of the guitarists gathered there weren’t even born when he was already famous as a blues guitarist. He then answered that he was watching and listening, trying to learn something from the others.

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I find this quite inspiring. Even BB King was still open to learning something from the younger guitarists there. With such an attitude you can keep learning and growing every day of your life. You can keep developing yourself until you are the very best version of yourself.
The same applies on your spiritual path. It is a path where you will learn every day. I can’t find the exact quote anymore, but Thich Nhat Hanh said something similar. He said that enlightenment is not a one time thing. It is not that if you are enlightened you will be able to go through life like this bliss ball. No, on this path you will always encounter situations and people that will test you and teach you. This way enlightenment is a constant process.

A lot op people think they can reach the state of enlightenment and then be happy. Far too often I hear people say things like that they have dealt with their issues, that they have broken down their ego, that they have done the work and are in the light now or similar things. This always makes me suspicious. In my experience you cannot deal with a situation and then be done with it forever. Maybe for certain issues this is possible, but normally the issues keep presenting itself over and over again.

Take for example my own unfulfilled child wish. I really wanted a child, but it was not given to us. My therapist at the time said that I did have a choice here. I had to choose between a child and my wife. The logic behind this being that at least theoretically I could have children with another woman. I obviously chose for my wife. But what I experienced is that the same choice kept presenting itself in different forms, on different levels and in different disguises. Every time I made the same choice and every time I thought it was behind me. But every time it kept popping up again and again. This is quite exhausting as you can imagine.

It so happened that I finally realised that I was making the wrong choice. It was not between a child and my wife, but between a child and not a child, which is a totally different choice. By choosing for my wife I always kept the door open a bit, but when choosing not for a child, the door is closed. That way I was finally able to start the mourning that belongs to such choice. I don’t know whether I will still be faced with this issue again, probably it will but it already feels much better right now. The fact that I started mourning is also an indication that I dealt with at least a large part of the problem.

Another quote I found said: “The path is not a straight line; it’s a spiral. You continually come back to things you thought you understood and see deeper truths.” In my own experience this is so true. You keep being presented with the same thing over and over again. Every time it will be in a different form, on a different level, showing different aspects.

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It is important here to realise that things happen on different levels at once. As an example, things happen on a physical level, but also on a mental, psychological and spiritual level. You will need to learn these lessons on all these levels, otherwise it will not be over. Apart from that every level consists of different aspects, viewpoints, making this even more complex. Every time an issue presents itself it will be on another level or it will show a different aspect, a different viewpoint.

Dealing with the issues every time they present themselves, will always bring you one step deeper, one step further. It sometimes is exhausting but also very fulfilling. The only thing you need to keep in mind though is that you will need to be open to learning all the time, to be open to the fact that things will be presented to you over and over again and losing the conviction that you can deal with things once and for all.

Enlightenment is a process not a destination in my experience.