People talk about sudden enlightenment, a sudden glimpse, satori, and all kinds of other spiritual attainments. But those things require the conditions for you to pull yourself together. You need to be in the right frame of mind to experience such a thing. So-called sudden enlightenment needs enough preparation for it to be sudden. Otherwise, it can’t happen at all. If you have a sudden accident in your motor car, you had to have been driving in your car. Otherwise, you can’t have the accident. That is the whole point: whenever we talk about suddenness and sudden flashes of all kinds, we are talking in terms of conditional suddenness, conditional sudden enlightenment.
In undertaking a spiritual life, what matters is simple: We must make certain that our path is connected with our heart. In the end, spiritual life is not a process of seeking or gaining some extraordinary condition or special powers. In fact, such seeking can take us away from ourselves. If we are not careful, we can easily find the great failures of our modern society—its ambition, materialism, and individual isolation—repeated in our spiritual life. In beginning a genuine spiritual journey, we have to stay much closer to home, to focus directly on what is right here in front of us, to make sure that our path is connected with our deepest love.
The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are the moments when we touch one another, when we are there in the most attentive or caring way. This simple and profound intimacy is the love that we all long for. These moments of touching and being touched can become a foundation for a path with heart, and they take place in the most immediate and direct way. Mother Teresa put it like this: “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” Jack Kornfield