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.
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.