A Spiritual Journey Called Everyday Life

Published on The Jakarta Post (http://www.thejakartapost.com)

The Jakarta Post   |  Tue, 07/26/2011 7:27 PM  |

Eva Muchtar

Some years ago, I sat before the Kaa’bah in the Holy City of Mecca, and I said to God, “Please show me how to read the Koran. Because I do not believe that God The Compassionate, The Merciful, is as strict and punishing as they say You are.”

I think God has been responding ever since. Life has become a dialogue, a nice friendly conversation between us.

I was born and raised a Muslim in Jakarta. But the left-brainer in me is always active. Everything intrigues me. I have a lot of questions about life. And I love it. Those questions have moved me through life. They have taken me to wonderful places and shaped my life in ways I could have never imagined.

Six years ago, I was working as a full-time consultant, and had been for seven years. I was passionate about work and life. I worked long hours and spent many more hours socializing. It was probably the typical life of a professional in Jakarta.

Until one day I ran out of gas. It was an odd experience, which begged the question: I love my job, I love my company and I love the people that I am with … so why do I feel so restless?

I knew I needed to jump out of this familiar cycle of endless movement, at least temporarily. I decided to take some time off. I quit my job and went traveling.

During that period I learned something unfamiliar to me: I learned to slow down. As I slowed down, I started to listen more closely to my surroundings and, more importantly, to myself. I realized just how tired I had been and how relieved I was to have this break. I began to notice small things in and around me, the beautiful small things.

I started to pray, meditate and read classical spiritual texts from Al Ghazali and Rumi to the Tao Te Ching and Madame Blavatsky more diligently. I continued to do so even after returning to work – as a freelancer, so I could be more flexible with my time and make sure I had room to breathe.

Deep Thinking

Three years ago, I decided to go deeper. I enrolled in a six-month intensive program at an esoteric school in Scotland. I wanted to experience living these texts that I was reading.

The school I attended is founded upon the principle of the unity of existence, that there is only one Being and each of us is a unique expression of it. To honor this is to allow the real Self to express itself through us – that is, for us to become our true self. It is an honest approach to life.

What I encountered during those six months was unexpected. I met … myself. Even stripped of such external factors as traffic jams, deadlines and competition, and living in such a beautiful space, I found that I faced there the same challenges that I faced in Jakarta. I was experiencing the same familiar feelings, habits and emotions. These were the layers of things that I have collected throughout my life to create this identity I called “me”.

There I learned to face those feelings and to recognize them, like peeling off the layers of an onion. I watched them transformed as I moved toward the center of this onion. I have grown to become more myself. It was an education in surrendering, in following and in being. I was in love with life.

So when a friend posed a question on Twitter one day, “What is your spiritual practice and what is your spiritual experience?” I responded confidently, “My spiritual practice is meditation and my recent spiritual experience is a retreat in Scotland.”

When I returned to Jakarta, I continued my life as I had before. Same family, same work, same habit of hanging out with friends for coffee. But, with a twist: my way of being is different. I pay more attention to what is going on around me and in me. I listen to myself better; I acknowledge how I am at each moment and I behave accordingly. I am being more honest with myself. I am being more myself.

And it is fascinating. Often I watch the emotions and thoughts rising in me and think, oh wow, I did not know I am like that. Or I start noticing how differently I think from other people and how I respond to these differences.

Problem Solving

Sometimes I do not see a problem as something to solve. It is how it is at the moment. Something wants to express itself. I need to allow it to be and witness how it evolves – and watch how I respond to it: Do I agree? Am I happy? Do I object? Am I angry? My response to the situation describes how I am at that moment. It is a process of me learning about myself.

Life is now that beautiful dialogue between God and myself. Yet I know I am only scratching the surface. There is so much more.

I continue to meditate, converse with friends, read spiritual texts and go on retreats. I still need these oases to help me stay centered and to remind me of my journey. But my so-called spiritual journey has become more expansive, more encompassing, in that it covers my whole life.

That night after my friend posted the question about spiritual practice and experience, I could not sleep. The question had not left me even when I had answered it. I woke up the next morning with a response. I told him, “I have a different answer. My spiritual experience is life, and my spiritual practice is to live, to be.” There is no duality.

— JP

Copyright © 2011 The Jakarta Post – PT Bina Media Tenggara. All Rights Reserved.


About fiyati

Saya adalah seorang anak perempuan yang lahir di Samarinda dan menempuh kehidupan sebagaimana biasanya, namun yang membuat saya berbeda ialah motto hidup saya yang takkan bisa dirubah oleh keadaan apapun jua. "Impossible is Nothing"

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