Many of the spiritual traditions are heavily goal oriented. There is a shorter term goal of living a life that works better for oneself and others, in terms of reducing suffering. And a longer term and over arching goal of Ground awakening to itself, at least in some parts of the traditions.
There is nothing wrong in this, but it is also only part of the picture, and can create some problems if taken as all there is to it.
For me, it is much more of an exploration process. I am curious about this life and existence in general, and am happy to explore whatever comes up and wherever life takes me. And a part of that wider terrain, which is formed as we go along, is Ground awakening to itself. But it is only one small part of the terrain, and not by any means any “goal” or end point. At most, it is something that happens in glimpses, and then as a more stable shift, and all the other explorations happens – in a conventional view – before and after it, and always within and as what awakens to itself or not.
Ground awakening to itself is not inherently better or more desirable than Ground not noticing itself. The only difference is that in one there is clarity and freedom from suffering, and in the other there is confusion and suffering, so when there is an identification with a separate self, there is naturally a desire for Ground to awaken to itself.
And eventually, when this confusion is thoroughly (or not so thoroughly) explored, when aspects of that terrain is familiar, there is a point where Ground cannot help but to awaken to itself. The sense of a separate self and its identities are so clearly seen as coming just from a thought, from imagination, that it loses any grip. And right there, Ground notices itself as inherently free from anything imagined.
Existence, universe, life, this always evolving form aspect of God, seeks (or, more accurately, moves in the direction of) diversity. And so too in awakening.
If we follow a set path, it is likely to work, at least to some extent. It has many benefits. And although it is a well trodden path, what is brought to it is always somewhat unique and different, so it will have its own flavor.
But why not allow this process, unfolding here now, to lead us? To have an open curiosity, about where this path goes? It is always unique anyway, a unique expression of life and God, so why not allow it to be unique, to willingly allow it to add to the diversity of existence.
It does anyway, so we may as well embrace it, although when there is resistance to it, trying to fit into a tradition and set path, that is also part of its unique flavor.
For me, all of this leads me to embrace both ends of the polarity.
I follow traditional practices, because they work. But I am also very much aware of what can come out of too much of a goal focus… more clashes between stories of what is and should be, more stress, more struggle, and so on. There can also be too much of an expectation of the outcome of practices, which creates, in another way, resistance to what is and struggles with the process and where it wants to go.
But I also follow a more open exploration… I am willing to try anything that comes up, when it comes up for me to try it, like for instance diksha. And I engage in more open inquiries as well, where I have no idea where it will go, such as in Process Work and journeying or tracking. If there is any expectation, it may be surprise over what comes up. Sometimes, it is entirely new dimensions of existence beyond what my thoughts thought was possible.
So there is a more free exploration of any aspect of the always changing and evolving terrain. And as part of this, there is an exploration of what is so clearly mapped out by the many traditions, such as realized selflessness.
God, in its form aspect, evolves in an infinitely rich way. So why not consciously join the process? We don’t need to abandon the traditions, we only need receptivity to and curiosity for a terrain beyond them. This terrain includes what is covered by each of the other traditions, goes beyond this, and is also always unfolding and evolving in new ways.