The temple air is thick with incense. Thin trails of smoke undulate around still candle flames. All is quiet as a man in a saffron robe sits cross-legged at the front, his mocha skin reflecting the gentle light and an infinite smile brush-stroked on his face. You bow with awe cascading from your heart.
Is this what comes to mind when you think of someone Enlightened? If so, you wouldn’t be alone. Our planet has been blessed with many beautiful Masters. There have been Christ, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Ramakrishna, Rumi…And now, in this epoch, as paradigms are shifting, energy is changing, and Indigos are Awakening, we are confronted with countless people wanting to raise their vibration.
The more we Awaken, the more we get a sense that there are certain qualities we would all benefit from, such as compassion, inner strength, vitality, awareness, service, and peace. Naturally, many of us look to people who clearly demonstrate these qualities, and try to model after them. We may even go so far as to change our attire, language, career, and/or living situation to more closely approximate our heroes.
The Beauty of Diversity
Spiritual progress is awesome, and it’s a blessing to have genuine wisdom holders we can learn from on the path. The important thing to keep in mind, however, is that each of us is unique, bringing our own qualities and strengths to this diverse world. Plus, things have changed so much since ancient times, when the Rishis walked the Earth! Just consider the innumerable types of jobs available, the colorful subcultures and city flavors, and the ethnic alchemy of a globalized society. It’s an incredible leap.
One can be spiritual, even attain God-Consciousness, and still have a distinct personality while operating in the physical. Just look at Paramahansa Yogananda and Vivekenanda, for example. Yogananda wanted to focus almost exclusively on spiritual growth and was bored with academics, although he went to the university at the behest of his guru. Vivekenanda, on the other hand, was very “book smart,” having memorized the entire Encyclopedia Britannica from front to back. Two different personalities, yet both very Awake.
Plainclothes Monks and Nuns
While there are Enlightened people wearing robes in monasteries and temples, per tradition, there are also Enlightened people walking the streets, blending into society. You might never suspect them! Daniel Millman, author of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, tells the story of how he met a gas station attendant who, it turns out, becomes his spiritual mentor.
In this modern age, we need Awake people in all walks of life. If you’re on a spiritual path, you can still pursue your career or calling. You might end up discovering a new awareness around that calling. And that’s okay. You might reach the point where the importance of your ego changes. Your personality might shift in some major ways. But you can still be whomever that new you is.
The key is to listen deeply to what your Inner Guidance says. Calm the mind, feel the inspiration, and act on it. Honor your strengths and gifts. Honor your unique qualities. Your uniqueness can serve others in special ways.
How do you feel spirituality enhances the way you live and work in this world? Please share!