Once you’ve had your spiritual awakening, you’ll probably want to “level up” your experience. However, it’s not easy broadening your perspective of the universe and connecting to the divine.
A lot can go wrong, and most people get confused about what they should do next. There are so many options and so many resources that getting overwhelmed can seem inevitable.
What you need to reach spiritual maturity is an understanding of how to live a lifestyle of spiritual growth.
Fortunately, you can break this down into five simple steps that anyone can do, no matter their spiritual or religious beliefs.
1. Live in Awe of Something Greater
Everyone experiences their spiritual awakening differently. Some people have intense, supernatural experiences. Others have intellectual epiphanies. Both are enlightenments that cause you to see that there’s more to the universe.
But just being aware that the universe is surprising isn’t enough to live a lifestyle of spiritual growth. You need to recognize the wonder of divinity and be in awe of it.
Divinity has been interpreted in many ways across different religions. Some see divinity as the spark of creation itself, a godlike figure, many gods, or the natural forces within the universe.
What makes divinity distinct from the normal state of nature is its sacred quality. That sacred quality is what deserves our veneration through awe.
Instead of your own being and experiences, the first step of spiritual maturity calls you to respect divinity and hold it above all else in the universe.
This is a surprisingly humbling decision and it’s what causes many people to stop their spiritual growth in its tracks.
Why should I care about anything but myself? They wonder. How does it help me to survive?
What’s interesting about humanity, however, is that we’ve decided to create a larger-than-life figure not in a material hierarchy, but a divinely abstract one. Choosing to be in awe of the divine is choosing to be in awe of an infinite power over the finitely powerful.
Divinity is eternal and that is why we’re in awe.
2. Decide on Your Principles
The next thing you need to do is determine what spiritual expectations you should have for yourself.
If you’re religious, then this should be an easy step for you to follow. Most traditional religions have tried and true principles which have helped develop entire cultures. Not every principle is applicable now, but you’ll find a lot to rely on.
However, not everyone belongs to a traditional religion or they might live in a modern, multicultural society where principles are more confusing than homogenous inherited traditions. In that case, deciding on your principles requires more careful thought.
A good example of this is the death penalty in Catholicism. Although capital punishment can be interpreted as sanctioned in both the Old and New Testaments, the ability of many nations today to safely imprison and sometimes even rehabilitate criminals calls into question the principle of most executions.
Human social and technological progress can erase the moral imperative of some principles, meaning you (and a religious culture) needs to be consciously aware and mindful of divinity’s true will.
But don’t make the mistake of assuming morality is a democracy. Jesus was executed in the Bible after the crowd voted for it.
The point of having spiritual principles is not to have material ones. You must assume that some ideas in the universe are eternal or natural.
Catholic thinkers argue against the death penalty because of the right to life. Mercy in the face of execution is about respecting that more important spiritual principle after the advent of development which allows it to be possible.
3. Care for People Other Than Yourself
Self-interest is the default. When we’re born, we have a biological imperative to survive. It’s only through proper childhood development that we begin to understand the need to truly care about others.
This is true for spiritual maturity as well. Although most people realize compassion at an early age, this can be complicated by material greed in adulthood. We start to focus only on what we want to do with our lives and how we will benefit from it.
If you give in to this selfishness too much, you’ll find yourself alone or a manipulative sociopath.
But why is this important spiritually?
It’s easy to be awed by the divine, but there will always be a power imbalance. The reason why some religions use the word “fear” to coincide with awe is the reality of understanding how small you are in the face of absolute power.
When you’re afraid to fight the power, you capitulate to it. But when you’re in power, then you must make the decision not to trample over those who are weaker than you.
As you progress in your spirituality, you will create spiritual or even material abundance for yourself. This is because you’ve learned to cooperate with the universe and with other people.
Divinity does not abuse its power. If it did, there would be no joy anywhere in the world. Instead, the abuse of power comes at the hands of other human beings.
We feel love from the universe, god, or whatever it is you believe. We understand that we’re not destroyed by incomprehensible authority. For you to be spiritually mature, you must show that you’re capable of this same love to others.
4. Develop Mindfulness
After a spiritual awakening, you become more mindful of the universe. But this is different from mental alertness. Mental alertness is recognizing the physical stimuli in your environment and responding to them, like avoiding a car crash.
Mindfulness is the understanding that you exist and are present in the current moment. You become aware of who you are, what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. Mindfulness is not a response, but a mental decision to be spiritually aware of your entire being.
A spiritually immature person is caught up in the past or living for the future. They create an ego based on this mental direction and depart from the present. They’re no longer mindful and able to grow spiritually because their being is no longer available. It’s been replaced with a fictional version of themselves.
Reaching spiritual maturity means detaching yourself from your ego. This is not abandoning who you are, but the false impression of who you are.
That’s why people meditate, pray, give offerings, journal – any number of spiritual, introspective activities that are designed to make them mindfully aware of what’s happening now.
You can’t grow spiritually by living as your past self. You also can’t grow spiritually by living for your future self.
Mindfulness is recognizing the present “you” and seeing that “you” as enough. It’s enough because you accept who you need to be, and instead of creating a future archetype to strive for, you make the conscious decision that’s who you’re going to be now.
5. Accept the Eternity of Spiritual Growth
The final step to spiritual maturity is accepting that spiritual growth is an eternal process. You can’t actually “level up” because spiritual maturity is being mindfully aware of your whole being within the universe, and your being is always a person of the present.
A lot of spiritual people don’t like the idea that there’s no final point of their spiritual growth. They want to believe that if they just pray enough, meditate enough, or perform the right rituals that they’ll be fully enlightened.
But enlightenment is a spiritual awakening, and the way you go forward after your spiritual awakening is in the understanding that what brought you to understand there’s more to the universe than you realize is still true.
This doesn’t mean that you should stop learning – quite the opposite. Rather, being spiritually mature means eagerly choosing to continue on your path of spiritual learning.
There’s always more for you to discover because you aren’t a perfect being. You aren’t divinity itself.
A perspective like this is non-material. Only the material is finite, so only a material perspective can be final either.
Divinity is, on some level, incomprehensible to us. Enlightenment is the realization of this transcendence, and we’re awed by it. That’s how we come to understand that the “more” in the universe also means there’s “more” to us too. Our bodies may be finite, but at least some of our being, like our soul, is infinite.
But spirituality has an eternal, transcendent quality because it’s how we connect to what we perceive as god or the source of ultimate power. The only way to be spiritually mature is to match that timeless quality with an eternal spiritual growth of our own.
These five steps can be applied to any spiritual or religious practice, but keep in mind that they should be framed with your particular needs and traditions to be effective.
Your spiritual awakening was a powerful experience, but developing your spiritual maturity is where you’ll truly connect to your source of divine power. You can progress through these steps one by one, but you’ll likely come back to them as you grow in your spirituality because you’ll always want to review your present self.
Enjoy being more present with who you are!