While visiting Seville in Spain we went to see a beautiful cathedral. I was walking around in silence, my eyes making the effort to capture all the beauty around and above me. Beautiful Gregorian chant filled up the space with a serene energy. Pepe was standing still, in the center of the cathedral. When I walked by him he said to me “I used to feel very different in places such as these, but I don’t any more. Not because I do not find them special, but because it doesn’t make a difference where I am anymore… it is all special.”
Pepe’s words at once transported me to those moments of my life where I keenly searched for the right spiritual formula. In those moments, I felt that so many forms and shapes were between me and the state of enlightenment I wanted to reach. I was convinced that eliminating these barriers was the only way to reach realization- my highest state as a spiritual person. I went through different phases of obstacle eliminations, trying to find the ultimate recipe for spirituality.
Over time, I developed conceptions regarding how a spiritual person should dress up. In my mind, clothes and fabrics where THE obstacle between me and realization. So I made sure I dressed up in a very specific way, wearing what I considered to be spiritual clothes and fabrics. Now when I look back at those days, and to the spiritual insecurity I suffered from, I smile. In retrospect, the main role for my spiritual uniform was to announce to the world, and to myself,that I am a spiritual seeker.
Later on I felt that all the colors in the color spectrum were standing between me and realization. So I eliminated all of them, and for years I wore only white. White was pure, white was spiritual and I felt that by wearing white I was one inch closer to realization When I realized that the colourful rainbow cannot be declared as non-spiritual phenomena, and that white is as wonderful to wear as the rest, all colors gradually found their way back into my wardrobe.
A time arrived when I felt that my beautiful long hair (I was twenty years old was standing between me and my higher self. In my mind, the long thick dark hair of my twenties represented beauty, seduction and temptation, so I shaved my hair- with a bold head I felt closer to my essence.
Then I discovered that greatest obstacle of all, standing between me and being an enlightened yogini: the obstacle of “making love.” So I chose celibacy to speed up my arrival into Nirvana.
Needless to say, none of the above restrictions I applied to myself brought me nearer to the ultimate state I was striving for.
However, the self-image I created for myself had its own benefits:
- It helped me to focus my mind around my practice and center myself.
- Making these choices made me feel that I belonged to a different “tribe,” which eventually helped me attract like-minded people into my life.
- Following my spiritual convictions gave me the assurance that I am doing something for my spiritual evolution.
- I was able to forge a new ‘me’, a self-concept beyond what I had inherited from my family and tribe.
This self-image was definitely helpful and comforting most of the time, but it was never the “solution” for my inner state.
For some years I managed to combine all the above, creating the ultimate spiritual persona: a celibate bold yogini in a white sari chanting Om Namha Shivaya!… However, I was still struggling with a huge question: had I arrived at my destination?
As long as there is a question… any question… as long as we dwell in doubt… any doubt… the answer is: not yet!
It is known through science as well as direct experience that different places, colors, shapes, sounds, and even fabrics or clothes have different frequencies. Everything is energy and energy is frequency. Some places, shapes, sounds or colors may have higher frequencies… others have lower frequencies… and it is all vibrating us in different ways. We can choose the right places for us, the right people to be with, the clothes that we feel most comfortable wearing and the colors we like around us. Even so, these are external circumstances.
The greatest practice, which the mind would evaluate as the hardest one, is to find peace and stillness no matter where we are, what we wear, and how we look.
True spirituality has nothing to do with time, space, form or shapes…. This does not mean we cannot enjoy and play with the endless forms and energies that create our physical world. All spiritual practices and disciplines use shapes, forms, colours and sounds for enhancing the state of awareness.
Finally, you arrive at the ultimate state of emptiness that encompasses all.
So be it.
And have fun.
But avoid any identification with the package you are wrapped in…