The Internal Compass

“If you want to know your past life, look into your present condition. If you want to know your future life, look at your present actions.”

    -Padmasambhava

People today are hungry to change their lives and the world, live better, and do something that is meaningful, but you will hear the same frustrated mantra from so many people, “I just don’t know what to do.” Finding our way in the world is not just a normal challenge, it is a test. It is a spiritual test to see if you have the resolve, skill, patience and energy to overcome the challenge. If you don’t, the challenge will be repeatedly presented to you until you overcome it or you come to the end of your life. Once you overcome the challenge you will have grown and the next challenge will present itself. What many people can’t seem to identify in this process is, that it is a process, in order to grow spiritually you need to overcome the challenges presented to you.

One of the first challenges in this process of unfolding one’s potential abilities is to overcome confusion and listlessness. The internal compass points toward those things that fill us with excitement and away from those things we don’t like. This is exactly how we should guide ourselves in life, by going toward those things that fill us with energy and excitement, not running away from what we don’t like.

If we only follow the compass of what we are attracted toward, we can still get lost. The internal compass is complex and needs a map to work with. Part of a map is the intention of the user: where does the map user want to go, what are the goals and destinations? One way of finding the right map and deciding on appropriate destinations is to use the mirror of relationship. In relationships (professional, friendship, intimate, etc) we learn about ourselves and others and discover what is valuable and worth pursuing. Also in a relationship, we see ourselves as we are, not as we would like to be. In the conflict between our imagined self and reality there are many opportunities for growth.

The problem is that we can still chart a course to the wrong destination and realize after many years that we have been going the wrong direction the whole time. One way to avoid this is to find the right map with a pre-charted course; usually we find such maps through teachers, mentors, masters, gurus and so on. We have to use our internal compass to know if they are the right teacher for us. With the right mentor/teacher we can save ourselves years of wandering in circles. But with the wrong teacher one is better off to walk their path alone – this is why the internal compass is so important. If one is talented and motivated it’s possible to go far on one’s own, but no one can go as far as they could go unless they are mentored along their path.

The compass cannot take us where we want to go, we have to be resolved and stay motivated to take the actions on a daily basis to reach our goals. There is nothing more motivating than feeling like one is on a mission toward doing what is right and bringing good into the world. In fact, the mission of one’s life helps define the destination on one’s map. The mission helps motivate us to overcome the obstacles in our way because we have a goal that is bigger than ourselves.

We return to the question, “what is one to do in the world?” The first thing you are to do is find your path, your mission and then find mentors who can show you a map of how to get to where you want to go. Constantly aware of your internal compass and ever looking into the mirror of relationship you will slowly steer toward the path of awakening your true potential. To follow the path of your true self, not the ego self which is created out of experience with human society, is a struggle – it is a spiritual test.

 

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