When most people think of spiritual evolution they tend to think in positive terms like love, peace, joy, etc. But each of these and many of their nearest cousins are the products of an awakened mind, not the path to one. The process of true spiritual development is a destructive one to be sure. Ideas, beliefs and understandings that for most of us have been cornerstones of our existence end up obliterated in the process. There is nothing comfortable about it and at many points along the way, it can be downright terrifying. It is one thing to change your mind about something, yet another entirely to uproot a core belief or value and shred it as you would a weed in your garden (which in fact it is). This is the territory where beliefs that are seemingly inextricably tied to your identity fight and struggle mightily for their own preservation. It is also the territory where most who don’t make it turn back. It is the valley of destruction.
So, what is it exactly that gets destroyed? The truth is, just about everything but the most powerful resistance will come from the ego. It is the part of you that convinces you that you need this thing or that thing to be happy; that you are separate from God, the universe, your fellow man and nature; that material wealth and outward achievement bring lasting happiness; that you are right and others are wrong; that you are superior or inferior to someone else, that the material world is final reality and not simply a veil, that love has conditions. These beliefs are so deeply entrenched in our consciousness that when we begin to dismantle them our entire identity feels at risk of collapse. Guess what? It is. If you have that sense, you’re likely headed in the right direction.
Adyashanti once wrote, “Make no mistake about it, enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense and the complete eradication of most everything we imagined to be true.”
Everyone wants to be happy, it’s universal in the longing spirit of man. But that longing must be directed at divine spirit. The ego has other plans entirely. It directs it’s need for gratification at everything BUT the divine and the results are self-evident in the violence, poverty, cruelty, greed, war, starvation, fear and hopelessness that are so pervasive in our world. There is but one path to deliverance and that path follows straight away through the valley of destruction. King David pointed directly to this truth when he stated, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” The way to the top of the mountain always leads through the valley but the climb is rendered exponentially less difficult when the baggage of illusion and ego have been set ablaze and left far, far behind.