Cultivating a Spiritual Path
Many references in esoteric literature suggest ‘leaving the world’ or ‘becoming a recluse’ or 'entering a monastery'. Real internal work does not involve a literal enactment of these representations. Rather, the inner meaning of these ideas is to separate from the host of thoughts and distractions that comprise the imaginary internal world of the lower self and simultaneously promote efforts to Be Present to one's life in any and all circumstances. However, it is not enough to simply have knowledge. Awakening is a skill that must be developed with consistant application and practice. Cultivating a spiritual path means learning to act in accordance with virtues that promote the realization of Divine Presence.
Gurdjieff: The chief difficulty in understanding the idea of the way consists in the fact that people usually think that the way" (he emphasized this word) "starts on the same level on which life is going. This is quite wrong. The way begins on another, much higher, level.
Christian tradition -- The Bibe, Matthew 7:13-14: Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Journey to the West (one of the four great Chinese classical novels): As the Heart's Nature Is Cultivated, the Great Way Arises.
Zen Buddhist tradition -- Dogen (13th c. Japanese Zen master): The way to enter the gate is mastered only by a teacher who has attained dharma; it cannot be reached by priests who have studied letters.