Having free will, people can change their habits and improve at anytime. Every life can be more productive than the last but many spend lifetime after lifetime making little progress. Everyone is born with many limitations and also the potential to overcome those limitations.
Through many lifetimes our evolution moves through three main stages of development.
1. In the first stage we are dominated by a need for our own survival and we will do whatever it takes to meet our own needs regardless of harm to others. One acts without a conscience and disregards any sacredness to life.
2. In the second stage, we begin to consider the needs of people we feel belong to us, like family or tribe, but we’re still dominated by greed, passion and personal gain. We seek power over others. Pleasure has been enjoyed through the senses so we keep seeking outside ourselves for more pleasure and joy instead of looking inside. Every sensual joy has a short life-span so we have to keep acquiring something new. We cling to one desire after another, always feeling a sense of lack while hoping to find a sustainable joy in the future.
3. In the third stage we begin to turn away from greed and passion. We begin to focus our efforts on gaining spiritual knowledge and advancement and we begin to act more mature. Our attention turns away from excessive external accumulation and consumption to nurturing and expanding the inner dimension of life. Meditation becomes a daily priority to quiet the mind and gain more clarity. This is the final stage of evolution.
With maturity we begin to see that real joy comes from generosity and caring for others and that there is nothing in the world we could possess that will give us sustained joy.
Instead of being driven by uncontrolled emotions, cravings, and fear, we start to feel the joy, love and expansive nature of our own Being. The glamour of objects and pleasure from physical sensations that used to attract us begin to wear off.
Staying focused on a path of personal development is not easy because we have many old habits that still attract us. To progress we need to summon our will power and discipline.
After lifetimes of experience we begin to see that glamorous objects only leave our hands empty. As we begin to have more glimpses of our inner Being through deep meditation, our fascination with worldly things diminishes, like a child who grows up and leaves his childish toys behind.
Yet the world becomes more beautiful, but what we see is the beauty in every smile, in the sky, the trees and flowers, and we feel the presence in all the life around us. The joy we feel does not come from the senses but from something deep inside. Life begins to be lived more and more in the present moment.
We progress by dissolving the stored impressions (samskaras) that keep the mind busy and cause cravings.
If we can maintain a daily practice of deep meditation, old bad habits lose their grip on the mind. Deep meditation also increases awareness so that we are not so easily lost in the grip of ego & emotions. With the calmness of mind that mediation brings we can’t help but reflect more and more on the real purpose of life and what is worth attaining and this encourages us to seek spiritual knowledge and guidance.
Becoming fully awakened is to live eternally in love and this is such a colossal achievement that the road is very long. Billions of souls are waiting for an opportunity for another human life where they can progress on this path, so even achieving the opportunity for another human birth is difficult.
The waiting list is very long as the planet can only hold a limited number of people. Having a human life where circumstances support one to be on a well-guided spiritual path is even more difficult. If we have such circumstances, if we have such freedom, do not waste it.