A Spiritual Life?

There’s this idea that following a more spiritual path in life, becoming a monk or a priest or something, is somehow easier than getting married, having kids, and buying a house.

prayer flags

This came up recently in a conversation, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard the idea. In fact it’s something I used to think myself, that those who follow an alternative, more spiritual, path are somehow taking the easy option. But when I look into it further I don’t see why I thought that way.

I suppose it’s the idea that they’re giving up their free will somehow. That they’re allowing some unseen force to provide for them, making their decisions based upon ‘God’s will’ or ‘the Tao’.

But in my experience that’s not what they’re doing at all. They’re living their life according to a set of values, values that restrict their activities somehow (often making it hard to live a ‘normal’ life) and are often difficult to live up to. And the decision making is still there, more than ever in fact, as each day they have to choose to turn to the path moment by moment rather than allow themselves to drift away from it (which would be a much easier thing to do).

beginning buddhism

Yes it’s true, not having to work 60 hours a week to pay the mortgage and keep your kids in sneakers seems like a great life. But imagine giving up the security that having your own home, savings, and someone to share the burden with brings you: No back up plan, no assets you can sell, just you and the clothes on your back and the road ahead, wherever it may lead. Put like that doesn’t the spiritual life seem a little more daunting?

I know I couldn’t do it, not yet anyway. I still like the security of money in the bank. And I want to have kids some day. But I like the idea of giving up material possessions, and the worry they bring you, and instead spending my time meditating and seeking the path to enlightenment. And maybe I will some day. I just have a few things I need to do first.

And how’s this for a final thought; if following a spiritual path is so much easier how come everybody isn’t doing it? Do we choose the ‘harder’ life? And if so, why?