Q: What happens when you sustain a spiritual practice for a long time?
When you’ve sustained a spiritual practice for a long time, you begin experiencing this bedrock place of peace that you live from. Life events ebb and flow. And they can be scary and fun or easy or hard in all the ways that we define joy and suffering. But the bedrock doesn’t go away no matter what the experience is.
The joy can be intensified by the bedrock, but also the suffering can be minimized by that bedrock. So there’s more of a spiritual equanimity. It’s not just a state of mind but a state of being. Because until we get to being, the mind is still an object. It’s still separate from us, as in “I’m me and that is my mind.” But a state of being is all one.
When that spiritual practice is maintained for a long enough period of time, the state of being becomes the experience. Then it’s much easier to stay at that baseline peace, and when you’re upset, it’s faster to return to that baseline peace because you’re aware of what all the traps are. You’re aware that having a Tesla is a trap – it might be fun, but it’s not going to change your life in any way. It’s going to be a momentary feeling of “Oh, this is fun.”
It’s about the two primary emotions of love and fear again. When you live from a place of love, it’s much harder for fear to creep in. Fear is basically a weed, and it can grow really easily in any kind of soil. It needs no tending. It’s pretty survival-positive. Most people experience love as a very delicate thing, like flowers that you have to tend, or they’re going to die, and the weeds will take over.
But eventually, what you learn with love is that it becomes stronger than the weeds, and it begins crowding out the weeds so that the weeds can’t grow anymore because the flowers have completely taken root.
Or maybe a better example would be the mushroom network. When there is a single mushroom, and it’s starting out, it doesn’t have the whole neural network yet. But over time, as it connects and it’s living its life as a mushroom, it becomes more mushrooms, and it now knows what a mushroom is, and it’s making those neural pathways, and it starts getting hooked up. And boom, you reach a tipping point where it is the neural network. It cannot be separated from the neural network anymore. Even if you cut it off and “kill” it, the part of it that’s part of the neural network still lives.
That’s the whole thing with consciousness and why we don’t die. The physical body can be cut off, but that neural network, once you make that connection to the All-That-Is, it’s not that you’re never not part of that, but now there’s an awareness of “okay, I can never be not this.” That’s an incredible realization to get to have.