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My prime. Kids feel so alive because they're still growing, still developing. As long as I keep growing I have a certain shine, a liveliness about me. The question is, where did I stop developing? It's surprisingly easy to find out where someone stopped growing. Just ask what period of their life was their favorite. What do they look back on as their prime, their peak, the time of their life? For some it's childhood, for some high school or college, for others a love affair or that first real job out in the world. Whatever it is, that's where they got off the development train. I always thought of that in terms of decades: my teens twenties thirties etcetera. All along the way the current decade has always been my all-time favorite. I'm now in my seventies and the trend holds true: this is unequivocally my favorite decade so far, putting all that came before in deep shade.

Two kinds. There are two kinds of development: the basic physical, psychological and cultural development every normally developing human undergoes, and spiritual development based on aspiration: the desire for something better than the ordinary life I find myself living. Spiritual development isn't built in. It's not part of the natural process of maturation. The work required to make progress won't make life easier. It doesn't get me any outward benefits except I'll probably get healthier. Meditation does not bring inner peace, unless I'm taking a very long range view. The work required is often counterintuitive. It's impossible to find a good spiritual teacher. So the deck is stacked against spiritual development.

Seeker, disciple, success. Spiritual development isn't included in anyone's curriculum. There's no call for it; nobody wants to work that hard for something of no practical value. You'd have to be nuts. Guilty as charged. I knew I had to surrender to a higher power to get good spiritual guidance. The spiritual quest is a long and arduous road and I need the best guidance I can get. So I became a seeker, looking for someone or something wise I could surrender to, thereby graduating from seeker to disciple. Anyone seeking to surrender will find no shortage of teachers and gurus to surrender to. But the teachers and gurus I found all turned out to be charlatans, even the well-intentioned ones, and I slowly became convinced they all were. They hindered my spiritual development and were an insurmountable obstacle to my self realization for an uncountable number of lifetimes. In this life I finally discovered the only version of a higher power that works for me: my own version, the one I was born with, my own internal authority.

There is no easy street. Resting on my laurels is the end of development, the end of liveliness and shine. To keep making progress I have to keep working, and part of my work is questioning everything in my life. In particular I have to question everything that has worked before, or worked so far, because what I need next always involves something new, something that's different from or in addition to everything that worked so far. Easy street is the highway to hell, with hell being, at the very best, a miserable ease.