Spiritual Quests in The Real World: Five Ways to Embark Upon Yours.

Larry Andrews, author of the powerful new book Secrets of the Silk Road, shares some practical ways to search for meaning – even as you live your ordinary life

Pittsburgh, PA – Most of us, whether we like to admit it or not, crave a “deeper meaning.” We long to connect with our own soul. We want reassurance that there’s more to life than the sturm und drang of daily existence. But when we hear of someone from our own Western culture going on a genuine spiritual quest, complete with amulets, gurus, and ancient monasteries, we don’t quite know how to react. The archetypal sacred journey just doesn’t jibe with the cell phones, traffic jams, and hectic workweeks of 21st century America.

Larry Andrews understands. The California native–an engineer, workshop teacher, expedition leader, and author of Secrets of the Silk Road: Finding the Lost Sacred Books of the Gobi (St. Lynn’s Press, 2006, ISBN: 0-9767631-2-5) – gets plenty of double-takes and incredulous questions when he talks about his own life-changing visit to the remote wilds of Central Asia. But he also senses a deep hunger for the kind of intense spiritual growth he underwent in the Gobi desert.

“We live in a tumultuous, challenging time,” he reflects. “The scientific knowledge we cling to in the West does very little to assuage our anxieties. And for many, the dogmas of organized religion don’t help much, either. But I’ve found that the timeless Eastern views of life resonate deeply with most people. It’s my passion to show that these perspectives on life are as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago.”

To fully grasp Andrews’ drive to share such powerful insights, one must read his book. It’s a fascinating true story of a series of mystical events that begin in the author’s boyhood and culminate, years later, in the remotest reaches of the Gobi desert. There, three teachers unveil some astounding spiritual truths, all centered on a set of ancient, secret teachings called the Song of Eternity. Profoundly changed from these events, Andrews returns to the U.S. to bring these revelations to the Western world.

Obviously, most of us here in the real world cannot and/or will not embark on the same kind of intense, transformative (and at times, harrowing) journey that Andrews experienced. That’s okay, he says. Such experiences are a matter of destiny. But each of us can embark on our own “spiritual quest” even as we live out our normal lives. Here are five suggestions:

  • Study ancient wisdom and traditions. Andrews offers workshops, classes, and home study courses for anyone wishing to immerse themselves in the hidden laws of nature that make up the Song of Eternity. (Visit larryandrews.net.) But there are plenty of other sources of ancient spiritual wisdom that will open your eyes to profound truths you may never have considered. “I often recommend that clients read books that explore various facets of the Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, and other traditions,” says Andrews. “Americans generally have very little exposure to Eastern cultures. They are usually surprised and delighted to discover that the principles at the heart of these traditions are the same ones they’ve been taught for years at their churches or synagogues. Hearing familiar ideas expressed in a different context often helps deepen one’s spirituality.”
  • Travel outside your comfort zone. Instead of taking a cruise or doing something else “touristy” for your next vacation, why not visit one of the world’s sacred places of power? Andrews leads private expeditions–which combine sightseeing with meditation, yoga, and other lessons in self-discovery and self-empowerment–to such locales. Planned journeys for 2006 include The Land of the Buddha (Angkor Wat and Thailand), sacred sites of Britain, and the Mayan temples of Palenque, Mexico. “There is nothing like visiting sacred places with an attitude of reverence and openness,” he says. “Such journeys are unforgettable, and often life-changing.”
  • Immerse yourself in Nature. If a trip to a remote sacred place isn’t in your budget at the moment, you can gain a sense of peace and serenity in your own backyard. Hike in a national forest, spend an afternoon walking on an uncrowded beach, drive out to a quiet spot in the desert. “Any place where you can breathe clean air and rest your mind and look at trees or stars is a holy place,” says Andrews. “Nature helps you find your center and put things in perspective.”
  • Appreciate the wisdom that comes to you from teachers. Secrets of the Silk Road begins by describing the author’s childhood friendship with Dorothy, a prescient older woman who lived near his North Hollywood neighborhood. It was she who told him the secret of the ancient manuscript hidden at the edge of the Gobi Desert and who gave him the amulet he would someday return to the monastery from which it came. “Dorothy was just one of the teachers who have guided me in my journey,” reflects Andrews. “I believe such teachers appear to us all, though we seldom realize their significance at the time. A spiritual guide might be an employer, a grandparent, someone we meet ‘by chance’ on a train. You don’t have to accept everything that any teacher says. But it’s always good to keep your mind open to new insights that can help you along your path.
  • Look for signs the Universe provides for you. Act on them. Another way of saying this is “trust your gut.” Intuition is so undervalued in our culture today. By valuing and developing your natural intuition, you will not only have more success in all you do, you will deepen your connection with the natural flow of life. This, by itself, will open your heart to a deeper feeling of connection with your own spiritual being.

    Lest you think you are too “practical” to embark on a spiritual quest, Andrews is quick to point out that spirituality is, itself, a deeply practical matter. By getting in touch with who we really are, we become more successful in everything we do.

    “The Song of Eternity is ancient, yet its message has never been more relevant,” he writes in the preface to his book. “The remarkable heart of its teaching is that there is a little-known and hidden all-pervading source of power that is available to each of us–and more importantly, that it is possible to awaken ourselves to this essential life force and to work with it to bring greater power into our everyday lives.”

    Larry Andrews is an engineer and author. He teaches workshops throughout the U.S. and leads private groups on specialized expeditions to many places in the world. He lives in Northern California.

    Secrets of the Silk Road: Finding the Lost Sacred Books of the Gobi (St. Lynn’s Press, 2006, ISBN: 0-9767631-2-5) is available at bookstores nationwide, major online booksellers, and at larryandrews.net.

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