A: There are many great practices out there. The key to any practice however, is consistency. Part of the big problem with any kind of spirituality today is learning about the spirituality instead of practicing it. For instance, putting in fact, or practice, what it says in the Didache will help you make serious spiritual progress. The same can be said of the Noble Eight-Fold Path of Buddhism. But it must be practiced. And Ideal practice for anybody would be to take any spiritual principle, from the Didache, the Noble Eight-Fold Path, the Neti Neti practice, anything, and do it consistently, every day. It’s also a good idea not to skip around too much. Doing the Neti Neti practice one day, then looking at the Didache one day, and the Noble Eight-Fold Path another day, it’s kind of like starting a different project each day. It’s best to pick one project, and finish it before going on to the next. That being said, you don’t have to become enlightened before you switch spiritual paths. There’s a specific type of discernment that has to be learned.  Any spiritual principle, if really practiced with intensity and earnestness, will reap huge spiritual benefits. Some of the most powerful spiritual principles to put into effect each day are ones that you were already aware of. Things like being as honest as possible with yourself and others as long as it hurts nobody are great spiritual principles. Another one is to try to see the world through another person’s eyes; this will help you develop compassion for other people. Compassion eventually leads to unconditional love. Another great spiritual practice is focusing completely on the moment, instead of projecting oneself into the future or the past. Another great spiritual principle is to focus completely on the sense of self. What that feels like, both mentally, and viscerally. All of these are great principles, and great paths that will lead two serious spiritual progress.

Q: How do I know if the spiritual work I am doing is working?

A: If your spiritual work is working, overall, you will feel less stress in life.  You will be more truthful with yourself and others, and if you need to confront someone to be truthful, you will feel less stress about it, less anger, and more at peace with this person and yourself.

You will feel a natural tendency to replace anger and resentment with understanding and compassion of others and the world. You will feel a natural aversion towards stressful, divisive places and situations.  You will be naturally pulled toward your practice, even if it temporarily causes upheaval.  Things that used to upset you do not anymore.  These are some good yardsticks.

Q: What should I do when someone is angry at me or treats me unkindly?

A:  The best thing to do is to try and put yourself in their shoes. What are they feeling, what is their perspective?  What are their past experiences in life, and how is this affecting their point of view now?  How are they viewing you?

This practice pulls you out of the duality of victim/victimizer, and puts you into the experience of compassion.  There’s always a reason why someone acts in a certain way, and usually it has very little to do with you.  Usually the person who is experiencing anger is acting reactively from their ego.  Don’t take it personally.

To take it personally puts you at odds with the person, which the person can consciously or unconsciously perceive, and keeps the drama going.  To see the person compassionately usually takes the energy out of the anger, and often times will take the person back, out of their angry state, and make them realize that their anger has very little to do with you.

Of course, to practice this takes time and dedication with identifying more with the watcher than your ego.  Be patient, and practice this consistently.  Often times it will resolve and issue.  If it does not, it will free your energy up to make much better decisions.

Should you confront this person about their anger?  Should you discontinue associating with this person because of their anger?  When you are watching from the witness instead of reacting from your ego, the choice will become clearer and clearer with time.

If you could imagine for a moment that all beings are connected (which they are, just bring your awareness to this.) Now imagine that someone or something has offended you, has been mean or rude to you, or just has a different opinion than you that you really don’t like.

Imagine now that this person is a part of you, like your hand or foot.  Your hand or foot is hurting you, from and injury, infection, etc.  What would you do with your hand or foot?  Would you get angry at it, or try to hurt it in some way?  Obviously not, this would in turn hurt you.  

You would try and heal it.  You might bring it to a doctor to look at it or to get some kind of medicine for it.  Why do we treat people differently then, when they are part of us?

In the future, when you are upset with someone, see what it is that is hurting in them, so that you may help or at least be compassionate with them.  People in a negative state of mind are more appropriately labeled diseased.  They are living out of a negative energy field that is hurting them.  They do not deserve your anger or judgment.

Understanding them would help them be released from their negative state, while allowing you to disconnect more fully from you ego and open your heart.  In this way you are both healed when viewing someone as part of yourself.   This is one of the key steps towards enlightenment.

This approach toward people and their problems is contagious.  When you practice this patience and understanding with one person, that person will more likely practice it with another person, and so on.

Do this next time you have a conflict with someone, either outwardly or in your head.  You don’t even need to take any outward action toward this person.  Just follow the instructions as outlined above, and you will be healed.