As I continue on my journey to learn all that I can about the nature of Self, it's completely apparent that knowledge does not change a person. Knowing everything in the universe will not produce a more noble character or an enlightened spiritual entity. It is not knowledge that brings about change in a person. It is merely the beginning of understanding. But to truly gain understanding and wisdom, and thus create change in a person, one must practice behavior that will overcome the nature of our outer ego, the instinctive behavior of flesh. This is one of the basic messages of all religions, even in the esoteric circle.
If anyone is looking to find the truth, they must apply practical behaviors, which most religions describe in their teachings. It makes no difference what religion you ascribe to. They all teach a fundamental practice to produce change within a person's soul. What spiritual knowledge provides is the understanding of why the practices produce change in the soul, but it does not in and of itself produce that change. This is the difficulty in realizing true change in a person. It's plain to see that among the people, many are not as spiritually developed as they would profess by their religious speeches. This is true among all persons who ascribe to a particular spiritual belief. In terms of practices, many find it difficult to maintain their practice in this world because of the world and the life within this world. As Jesus said, one cannot serve God and money. They must choose one or the other. This is quite a difficult task if you have responsibilities to others. I believe this is the reason why the bible teaches celibacy. It is not for some religious ideals, but rather to remove any obstacles from the person who wishes to have no distractions from their practice. It is not a judgement on those who are not celibate. The need to take care of others force a person to choose money over God. However, this does not mean one cannot attain the goals of spiritual freedom through spiritual practices while making a living.
In order to produce the fruits of our labor through spiritual practices while living in the world, one must make every effort to be aware of their state of mind. When you find yourself focusing more on the problems and concerns of this world, then you are drifting away from the spiritual practice and thus forgetting your goal. So how does one prevent this? The only way is to practice being aware of your thoughts. In Buddhism, this is described as mindfulness, which is the act of observing your thoughts in order to be aware of your thoughts. In Christianity, the Bible describes it with the passage "watch your life and doctrine closely". The life is what you do because of your thoughts. Your doctrine is what you think and not just what you believe, for your thoughts come from your beliefs. In both of these cases, you are aware of your thoughts and actions from those thoughts. But not just your thoughts, but also your emotions which amplify your thoughts.
As I mentioned in my previous posts, your thoughts become reality by the very nature of thought. The nature is to create action when thought occurs. Without awareness, your subconsciousness will try to act out your thoughts. This can be seen when things occur to bother you and you act out your emotions and thoughts without control, such as expressing anger or frustration because of someone cutting you off on the road, or someone saying something that bothers you. Without awareness of all your thoughts and emotions, it is easy to act out those thoughts and emotions without your awareness. When you have awareness, then you have the opportunity to control your thoughts and emotions before they become action.
This ability to be aware of your thoughts and emotions require much practice and training. The bible says “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." The path of destruction is the acts that are contrary to our spiritual nature, which are the acts born out of a lack of love. This path is so easy to follow when one does not have control over their thoughts and emotions. If one is to get off this path and onto the narrow road, they must practice control over their thoughts and emotions, however they wish to practice this. Some will follow the Buddhist way of meditation. Others will follow the Christian way of practicing love for others. In either case, they are consciously being aware of their actions and it is this practice that must be maintained if one is to become enlightened in their spirit.
The idea of enlightenment simply means you are aware of your place among all of creation: that you and everything around you are One, that all beings are a part of All That Is and therefore worthy of love. This means you can love who you are just as much as you love those around you. If you cannot love yourself, then you will not love others. Love does not mean being egotistical. Love means that you are non-judgmental and accept everything as an experience, rather than a condition. In other words, you do not feel personally any negative or positive situations as being a part of you or act against or for you. Instead, if you look at it from the perspective of an outside viewer, then you are accepting the negative or positive situation as merely an experience and not something that is permanent. In this way, you are detached from the things of this world without ignoring the experience, which provides wisdom. This can only come about through practice being aware of your thoughts.