Many of us desire to be spiritual nowadays, so we read the books that other self-proclaimed teachers and prophets set up for us, in order to follow their guidelines, doctrines and belief systems. We accept and repeat what we read, like a parrot reproduces a word without knowing its meaning. If it sounds good and we can identify with it, we accept it and share it with the people who are prepared to listen and copy.

Words have no meaning whatsoever, though, if our actions don’t correspond. A man or woman can go to church for their whole life, yet never advance on the spiritual ladder. What are we supposed to do to be freed from our perceived sins without falling into the same trap over and over again? When will the suffering ever stop?

Spirituality, in its bare essence, is exactly about that: to make an end to all misery and transform the Self into something beautiful and lasting. In fact, every religion is about showing the individual the road to the Light and guiding them back Home. In that sense, spirituality and religion are exactly the same: they’re a mirror for the “fallen one” and offer a roadmap to an original state of Being—immortality.

Phoenix rising

What’s key in this quest is the process of awakening—not so much as a sudden wake-up call to an altered reality or another dimension, but rather as a series of insights—realizing who you truly are, and what to do in order to bring back peace and transform the old into something new and fresh. There’s indeed no better metaphor that symbolizes this process than the phoenix rising from its ashes.

If we want to put an end to all suffering, we need much more than a couple of metaphors showing us the underlying principles of enlightenment and spiritual awakening.  We need an operative method that gets us from point “A” to point “Z,” from darkness into the Light. Since we’re dealing with the invisible realm (consciousness), no external device or calculation will help us any further. We have no other option but to get there by the powers of our own will and perseverance.

The Christian adage “repent, and thou shalt be saved” holds great spiritual and philosophical beauty. It shows, in one simple sentence, that the beholder has corrupted their reality—the Self—yet there’s a way to be freed from all evil and restore the individual consciousness to an immaculate state of pureness and peace. If, however, we aspire to this enlightened path, we need to take the first step towards it—the realization that we were and are the initiator of our own misery and that of our whole reality.

Step into the light

The first step to every form of religion or spirituality is, therefore, to be found in the realization that it’s not the world or other people that are to be blamed for all things, but the individual themselves.

Every change truly begins with stepping up to the mirror and saying over and over again, on a daily basis, that what you see happening in the world is merely a reflection of yourself—your own thoughts, feelings and emotions. Hence, praying is nothing more than asking forgiveness and trusting that things will soon evolve to a lighter state of Being.

This simple Truth, that salvation lies within, is indeed the metaphorical and spiritual basis for all religion, showing us indirectly the path to liberation and enlightenment. You don’t need to be an academic or a religious adept to work with this principle; you just have to apply it on a regular basis and see with your own eyes what the outcome will be.

In that sense, the road back to “Home” lies simply in the hands of the individual—regardless of social status or intellectual background—and is available for every living soul who’s prepared to awaken from the darkness and step into the Light.

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image: Rise from the ashes by Michel Curl via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)