Spiritual Emergence: The Search for Happiness
Inside every person is the deep desire for personal happiness. No one can doubt that! Each of us looks for it everyday. Spiritual Emergence is the journey toward the ultimate happiness- the enduring happiness that is ever-present and ever-new. It increases peace, clarity of mind, wisdom, compassion and wellbeing.
Watch children. They are great examples of the search for happiness. Most children distractedly move from one source of pleasure to another, often spending little time on one thing as they grow weary of repetition and seek the novelty of discovering something new to experience with their eyes or ears, also through touch, taste or smell. Such is the cycle of our continual search for happiness at every age!
We look for happiness to satisfy the yearning of our five senses. We want to see beauty, feel gratifying touch, smell wondrous aromas, hear sweet sounds, and taste delicious foods. But all these sensations come and go…They do not endure.
The enduring joy and ever-new bliss we seek can only be found in direct experience of connection with the Source of Life itself, aka God, Creator. Spiritual Emergence is the journey one takes to find that direct connection and experience the enduring bliss that springs from it.
Picture this stable connection as reaching the peak of a mountain. There are many paths to the peak—if one maintains intention to reach the top, each path can eventually get there. On the path we catch glimpses of the peak and momentarily experience the peace and happiness that awaits us. Some go round and round the mountain at increasingly higher altitudes as they approach the top. Some wind back and forth in hairpin turns reaching ever closer. Some are challenged by spiritual crisis and are stopped, shrouded in darkness for a time. Some seemingly combine all these—at times direct, at times indirect, at times losing the path altogether and forgetting the glimpse that inspired the climb. Some with excellent guides go direct from bottom to top in a steep climb.
The word ‘Religion’ comes from the Latin, re-ligare. Translated it means to connect, or bind again. From that, we understand, at one point we were connected to the bliss we seek but we became separated, entranced by the five senses that come with being human. The job of religion and/or spiritual practice is to connect us again in a close and substantial way to the Source.
The 8 Components of the Path
How do we reconnect with the Source/ Creator? There are 8 essentials:
- We must have the intention to connect with the Source in order to choose a path and continue our journey to the top peak. Setting intention through affirmation or prayer is helpful.
- Concentration sustained over a period of time. The mind needs to stay focused on the path in order to ascend to the peak.
- The ability to go deeply into the Silence of the Soul, the place where we remember being connected in the past. The activity that works best to accomplish this is meditation.
- Exercise can be helpful before meditation, to enable us to concentrate for periods of time without becoming restless.
- Fellowship with others who share the intention to reach the top. This helps with maintaining focus and energy. It can also help us maintain balance if we trip and fall, or are distracted by the challenges of the journey, e.g. bears, snakes, mosquitoes and sleepless nights bother mountain-climbers. Moods, addictions, bad habits, and negatively motivated people can distract those on the path of spiritual emergence.
- Study of the experiences of others who successfully reached the peak. This enables us to learn more about how to conduct ourselves on the path to hasten arrival at the peak. Others’ experiences can be very inspiring.
- Mentor Learn from someone who was successful in reaching the peak and is familiar with the journey. Choose someone who has gone beyond a “Peak experience” and maintained communion with Source 24/7.
- Compassion for Others Volunteering your time and attention and extending compassion to others helps you ascend the mountain.
Dramatic phenomena such as watching sensational magic, spiritual healing, shamanic ritual, psychic readings, and the like may also be a source of inspiration and compelling visions—but many have been so taken by these phenomena that they lose sight of the top of the mountain and stop ascending.
Author: Emma Bragdon, PhD, is the Executive Director of IMHU.org
The 7 books she has written and the courses she teaches describe how spirituality has a positive impact on mental health. See the course she teaches on “How to Effectively Support Someone in Spiritual Emergency” here.