To lead a spiritual life, one must be a warrior in the best and highest sense of the word--vigilant, valorous, brave. I am not talkng jihad here--jihad is a barbaric artifact of the Piscean Age, and is sponsored by ego and motivated by fear. Spirituality is all about love, and forgiveness.
The spiritual warrior does not take on physical enemies, but engages in a war within. He or she contends with the forces of selfishness versus selflessness; strives to conquer fear in order to manifest unconditional love. These forces clash incessantly in every human heart, although many people seem to have conceded the fight, and given themselves completely over to fear, materialism, and idolatry.
Meister Eckhart, a fourteenth century German mystic said that "There is no greater valor nor no sterner fight," simpy because "he who would be what he ought to be must stop being what he is."
This is the immense challenge of leading a spiritual life--and also its appeal for many.
"It is precisely because the quest to realize God is so difficult that those who are really daring--and there are many in this country--should be eager to take it up. In fact, the mystics say, all the daring and aggressiveness in human nature is given to us for one supreme evolutionary purpose--to remove what covers our original goodness so that we can reveal more and more of God in our own lives." (Eknath Easwaran, "Original Goodness")
At this point, I should stress that by God, we do not mean some imposing mythical figure seated on a throne, but the divine spark within your own heart, the very core of your own self. (BTW, this is what Jesus was talking about when he said "The kingdom of God is within you." Oddly, I have found that this conception of God seems to annoy the atheists even more that it does the fundies.)
Growing spiritually demands ceaseless devotion, an uncompromising integrity, and a lot of hard work. Take meditation--it is simple, but far from easy--as any meditator can attest. Hindu sages say that if you miss a single day, it takes seven days to catch up. And there are many techniques, and only by trying and trying and trying some more can one find that which works best for himself. If you encounter someone who claims to have the single, best, one-size-fits-all meditation method, grab onto your wallet and run. (There are other means of spiritual growth--in the Christian tradition, for example, there are the way of Mary--grace or sheer devotion-- and the way of Martha--the way of good works. Hinduism offers many yogas besides hatha yoga, the one which is best known. Those are subjects for other threads.)
There are easier, softer ways to live. Some people go with conventional religion-- the "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so" school. These people, ironically, rarely have anything but a passing acquaintance with what Jesus actually, said, instead taking the word of their friendly neighborhood priest as "gospel." For these people, when you go to church, you leave your brains in the car, or check them at the door.
At the other extreme is the flip side. I speak from personal experience here, so bear with me. Forty-seven years ago, our church paid my way to church camp (we were poor), and I bought into Presbyterian theology--for a while. But I was so grossed out by all the lip smudges on the communal communion cup, I started to think about what I perceived as the absurdities of a deity that demanded so much of believers and was petty, admittedly jealous, and arbitrary. Since I did not know that there are numerous conceptions of God--since I assumed it had to be the Bible way or the highway, so to say--i chucked the whole thing, became an angry young atheist. In college--after discovering the Bhagavad-Gita and Aldous Huxley (okay, and mescaline) I got my first acquaintence with Unity Consciousness. Since then, I have encountered many such angry young atheists, and it is my great pleasure to inform them that the god they reject is nothing like the god I now know.
Fortunately for both the above groups, spiritual growth is not only essential--it is inevitable. We are all on the road to sainthood. everyone will attain unitive knowledge of the divine ground of being when they "die". Some of us would prefer not to have to wait so long, and live lives here and now free from fear and disquietude.
Anyone who is reading this out of curiosity, I invite you to join us. (By us, I do not mean some sort of metaphysical aristocracy, but simply people who accept the thousands of years old concepts now known collectively as the Perennial Philosophy, which postulates that the primary end and goal of life is unitive knowledge of the divine ground of being.) It is not easy, but in over half a century of walking this earth and going to and fro on it, I have found nothing more rewarding--or more fun.
Do you think think this new age coming after the Piscean will come suddenly or gradually. I'm asking in regards to 2012. My knowledge of astrology is poor.
The Piscean Age was all about single-source gurus, the "I alone know truth" thing.