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One Love Yet Many Paths to God: Exploring the Spiritual Journey

I have walked down many paths seeking love, all the while discovering that Love was the path itself.


Lotus in Italy
Lotus in Rome Italy

I will begin by admitting this is a story of my spiritual journey to Love as much as it is about Love itself. But truly, how can One separate the two? With that, I ask your permission at the beginning to make this post a little longer than most and include my photography to help create a visual experience.


As many wise ones have said, it is often the journey itself that reveals what was present before the first step, or in our case, the first word.


It must have been there, or what would have lit the way ahead?


I invite you to in-Joy the journey with me and, along the way, discover this Self-Love for yourself!


The Spiritual Journey


Perhaps you have noticed that there are numerous spiritual paths and quite a few religions, and some of those religions have many gods associated with them.


Which one is right?


Maybe a particular one would say they are the only path, but is that true? How can they all be right if they are each saying that? How can a human discern what God, or Jesus, or Buddha, or Krishna, or Muhamad really is or said thousands of years ago?


I am going to take a “fashion” risk here and speak about my own experience with God. But please, hang on with me whether you believe in God or not or are firmly established in your belief. This article is meant to help uncover and reveal unconditional Love, not limited by any concept or belief. Take the journey with me and see what you discover.


Religious Upbringing Reveals Invisible Truth


I grew up going to the Catholic Church and even Catholic school for a while. My memory of that time was that I experienced some wonderful and supportive Priests, as well as a Nun who called me the worst reader in the class in front of the whole class.


Something in me just knew that although I appreciated having a relationship with God, it wasn’t limited to this religion. That God was Love and Love was limitless regardless of what I believed or didn’t believe about God, myself, others, and the world. As a teenager, I was profoundly and unmistakably shown this knowledge in a remarkably grace-filled manner, as I'll share below.


I tried to explain my reservations about specific aspects of Catholicism to my mom, who was responsible for my Catholic upbringing. She told me I could go to the Methodist CCD program instead. You see, my dad was raised Methodist.


I then recognized that what I was doubting was not the essence of the Catholic Religion, that God is Love, but the doctrine around that essence. It didn’t matter which religion I studied because they all had their doctrine.


Something deep inside me said that my relationship with God, with Love, was much more than what remained after thousands of years of humans layering their own beliefs over something pure when it was brought into the world.


Church in Assisi, Italy
Church in Assisi, Italy

So, I got confirmed as a Catholic so my mom could fulfill what she believed she needed to do for me as my mother. As I write this now, I am profoundly grateful to her for demonstrating her commitment to what she believed in and her love for me and my soul. That caring and love set an invisible to me at the time, foundation for living and offering what I believe in my heart to others. Wanting to share with me what filled her heart with comfort and love has inspired me to do the same.


Why so Many Paths?


But I still wasn’t getting what I needed from church, so my journey down many paths began. I may have still used the word God because of my upbringing, but I knew somewhere deep inside me that God and Love were not separate. God was just a word some people used to describe a deeply rooted and often buried knowledge that we are all made from Love, reside within Love, and are Love.


My ability to live as that Love and shine it on the world was restrained by my personal limiting beliefs about myself as not being good enough or deserving of Love.


I needed to walk the path to Love for a while before embracing it for myself.


Yet the very essence of seeking means that one continues to seek and thus not find. Seeking must be released in order to rest in the final truth of the matter. It seems silly that many of us spend a lifetime trying to be good spiritual practitioners. All the while, in the very act of trying to, we are denying that we already are.


Because could God, could Love really make a mistake with you? How is that possible if God, if Love is perfect? Wouldn’t that mean that what They create is perfect, whole, and complete? How could it not be?


Yet, I needed to walk the many paths to recognize this. I began by exploring the spiritual side of Tarot. I then studied different Native American spiritual beliefs in college and started reading up on Eastern systems of spirituality. I enjoyed the process of learning about all these paths to Love, yet still, ironically, didn’t claim that Love for myself.


Yet, God/Love knew my heart, knows your heart, and drops hints along the way of our Loving Nature like refreshing drops of rain on a garden.


Path leading through a wet forrest
Mount Moosilauke, New Hampshire

My Experience with Unconditional Love


So here it goes, the story I have only told a handful of people until now. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes and reveals joy within my heart.


One day, as a teenager, while lying in bed with my beautiful Siamese mixed rescue cat, the thought popped into my head,


“I wonder what it would be like to love her unconditionally? Not because she’s my cat, and I love her, but because she is another precious creature on this planet.”


Before I could contemplate that thought, I felt a stream of love coming from my heart to her. It was far beyond any love I had ever felt before. It was powerful beyond my capacity to use words to explain. It felt so pure and without expectation.


I recognized that I wasn’t feeling it because of everything I loved about her, like her loyalty to me, her fierceness, her sweetness, and her independence. The love I was sending her was pure of personalization. It was impersonally perfect, which I recognized was the same as unconditionally loving. Or as close to it as I had ever encountered.


I then noticed that a Love even more powerful than the one I was giving her was being given to me. My soul was touched by a profound sense of love that knew no bounds. I felt this unconditional Love being offered to the very core of my being.


Tears once again flood my eyes at its memory because this Love I was feeling was a thousand times and then a thousand times stronger than what I was giving. Yet what I was offering her was purer than anything that had reached that far into my soul up until that point. How could there be a Love so pure that I hadn't known about it until that moment?


The feeling of love was so profound that it left an indelible mark on my heart. It was as if every fiber of my being was filled with this boundless and infinite Love that I couldn't contain.


Myka the Cat
Myka (Me-ka)

I mentioned that I only told this story to a handful of people. So why now lay it out there for the whole world to see?


It was fear and insecurity, keeping its brilliant Loving message buried inside me. What if someone doesn’t believe me and tells others I am crazy or just trying to seek attention? What if someone aggrandizes me and then learns that I am an imperfect human, just like everyone else? I ask myself right now, “What if?”


Yet, what if someone reads this and is so inspired that they open themselves to a similar experience and recognize the unconditional Love offered to them in this precious moment?


I decided that it was worth the risk of being vulnerable and transparent!


This story is intended to enhance the experience of human love while inspiring the possibility that Love never ceases. So you begin to explore that Love does not end when someone leaves you by choice or not by choice. Perhaps human expressions of love reveal our potential for a limitless, universal, and never-ceasing expression of Love.


As a teenager, I experienced many kinds of love. The deeply devotional love of my parents for me, the love I felt for my friends, the love many young girls experience that feels like they cannot live without the object of their crush.


Yet, when I was in that profound experience of receiving and offering Love, there were not many different kinds of love, like the love for a child, which feels different than the love of a spouse, parent, sibling, friend, country, or religion.


There was only one Love.


Why had I been given this gift, this profound experience at a young age?


Simply because I finally asked for it and was open to receiving it! That’s all it took. An open and pure request to feel and offer Love without limit.


I was feeling as if I was receiving and offering that Love in different degrees because of my own filters. The power and strength of that Love revealed to me that I was the only one limiting Its full glory in my life.


That one Love wants to be experienced, offered, and received. It takes the innocence of asking without expectation of how the answer will come to give and receive it.


It was up to me. It is up to each of us at any given moment to drop the veil of our own beliefs so we can receive it and offer it. I have since learned that offering doesn’t mean it will be received by the intended recipient, as apparent in the next phase of my life.


I was perhaps 18 or 19 at the time, and after the feeling of Love faded, I went back to my search for God and Love. Crazy, isn’t it!? Yet, experiences are fleeting. Only the knowledge taken from them can be carried with you.


If, like me, you had deeply rooted beliefs of not deserving that love, and expecting it to show up in a specific way, how could one fleeting experience change that lifetime of reinforcement? Yet… I know it can. I just need to be open to it once again.


Exploring Love Through My Life


So, my journey of seeking Love, Freedom, and God continued, but with the memory of that moment of Love safely resting in my heart. Oftentimes buried under thoughts of insecurity and glorification. But it waited for my next moment of openness to once again show me that I am Love.


Everything I write is based on this one understanding. To know Love is to know Yourself.


In college, I spent hours at Barnes and Noble sitting on the floor, reading every book about spirituality I could. You can find a list of my favorites below. I even worked there for a while to be closer to the sense of wonder, awe, and freedom I felt when entering these beautiful, loving, and safe worlds revealed by each writer.


One day, when shelving books, I came across two books sitting next to each other: A Course in Miracles and the Upanishads. I knew for a fact that my time to dive into those books and unwind their mystery would come, but it wasn’t now. I was right; they both came to me later in life and to this day, I read from A Course in Miracles every day, and the Upanishads are foundational texts for my Yogic scriptural studies.


My search for what I called freedom continued as I studied Shamanism, Reiki, and other energy modalities. I finally found a more steady resting place in the study and practice of yoga.

The written word has the power to inspire or constrain. It is all up to how the reader receives the information. The writer is always offering Love through their words or asking for Love. It simply depends on where they are coming from at the moment inspiration downloads into their metaphorical pen.


I say this because the moment I wrote the word yoga, I imagined a whole galaxy of associations may be swirling around in your mind. For a moment, let go of what you think you know, because when I first started exploring yoga I had no clue the depth of what it was truly offering me beyond postures and breathing techniques.


In fact, the majority of my experiences with Unconditional Love began flooding in once I found yoga. Yoga meaning Union, not flexibility. Now, this is not an article to try to get you to practice yoga but to inspire an openness to Love’s Presence right here, right now in any form that resonates with you. That's why there are so many paths to Love, because there are so many of us with unique experiences of life informing what we take in and believe. Here’s how Love's Presence became more firmly and steadily established in me after many years of seeking it.



Lake Michigan at Sunset with Om Symbol in Sand
Lake Michigan at Sunset


My Path to Union


In my late twenties, I attended a Yoga Teacher training and had another deeply profound experience of Love. I quite literally can’t find the words to explain it to you, or I would. After this experience, I wanted every step of my life to take me closer to living that experience for the rest of my life and beyond.


So, I opened a yoga studio and offered yoga. I also brought in teachers, preachers, monks, and gurus from many different traditions to impart their knowledge to my students. We were a community of like-minded people practicing, discovering, and offering love together. It remains the best spiritual community I have ever experienced. My heart is forever grateful for my time leading that community by being led by our community members' hearts and needs.


I was still seeking, though, still maturing as a woman and still harboring hidden insecurities underneath the surety of what I taught and revealed to my students. That’s when I made a move to live at my Yoga Ashram.


A bridge in the forrest

They say don’t get to know the object of your admiration because, eventually, they will fall off the pedestal you put them on. It’s true, but it doesn’t have anything to do with them and everything to do with you!


When I moved to the Ashram seeking a more permanent experience of Love in my life, it also included the love of a partner and love for the Guru. But as I have mentioned, love can be limiting, while Love is unconditional. I learned that the hard way during my three years of practicing, revealing, and embracing the practice of yoga.


Love does not expect or demand anything from anyone at any time; thus, it never feels resistance. It only offers itself selflessly, unconditionally, and freely at every moment, yes, even right now. Can you feel it?


Yet we humans do. That is, we demand and expect things from ourselves and others. That’s why we don’t feel Love’s Presence every moment of our lives. It must be offered and received freely, meaning no hidden motives.


I recognize now that my time at the Ashram was to put situations and people in front of me to show me how my approach to life and Love was not working and that there was another way. A way I had known and experienced in my youth yet kept doubting.


Love is Hidden Within


There is something important I want to instill here that I have always known yet haven’t always lived. You don’t need to take the pilgrimage, eat the special diet, do the daily spiritual ritual, or live at the Ashram to be worthy of receiving and living in Love’s Presence. All those things, meditation, prayer, yoga, reading spiritual books, spending time in Nature, and visiting holy places, are there to help you recognize that Love is in all of them, including you right here, right now, even in the slum or the desert, in the best times of your life and even the worst.


We reflect out in the world what we feel within ourselves. Spiritual practices and pilgrimages are effective only when they are in service to letting go of the filters that veil the constant Light of Love's Presence.


To truly embrace that, I had to let go of the old ways to embody the new. Perhaps similar to what Jesus says about dying and being reborn in water and Spirit to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Or, in this case, Love. This means to me that I have to allow Heather's past to wash away to finally rest in the all-pervasive Spirit of Love. The name Indu I use in my signature represents this process.


My friends, it is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment exploration of letting go.


Right Now.


The Solution


When I let go of who I think I should be, what the world should be, and how others should be at any given moment, I find myself resting in the unconditional arms of Love. When I try to figure out why a person is a specific way or let my thoughts overwhelm me with opinion and belief, or when I try to fix all my imperfections so I deserve that Love, I am simply reinforcing not-love. So that’s why I experience, not love.


A street in Noto, Sicily
Noto, Sicily

Since Love is unconditional, it has always been up to me to receive Its invitation. It is offering itself to me right now. Am I open to receiving it?


I have walked down many paths seeking love, all the while discovering that Love was the path itself.


How perfect! How Loving! How free I am, and you are!


In my experience, this understanding of eternal and unconditional Love only enhances my relationship with God/Love. I have found with my students and clients that this understanding has only improved their relationship with whatever representative of Love they believe in.


I can’t tell you the number of people I have heard say how much more deeply connected they feel to Jesus, or Krishna, or (fill in the blank) because of this understanding. And, a non-belief in God does not need to be a non-belief in the power of Love or have an openness to experiencing it.


Since that moment with my kitty, I have had many experiences of what I call Divine Love. That one experience created a crack in the barrier I had placed around my heart to protect me from my own beliefs about the world being a scary and painful place. The Light of Love behind that wall has made its Presence known to me again and again in my life. Always spontaneous and unexpected, and not always when I wanted or thought I needed it.


Yet I now know, based on my own experience, that Love is always there, waiting for me to open my arms to it. The sure way I have found to receive that Love is to want to offer it unconditionally.


The Law of Love is this. When you offer it, you recognize you have it because you cannot give what you have not received. Recognize you not only have Love but are Love, and you will give and receive it without limit.


Flowers growing out of stone on a walkway
Flowers can even grow out of stone to light your path!

Coming Full Circle


About a year ago, while walking the streets of Rome, I saw a Priest or perhaps a Bishop sitting on a stool on the sidewalk, intently making the sign of the cross while gazing at the multitudes walking past him unnoticed. We happened to make eye contact, and as he directed that holy blessing at me, I felt sincerity and Love through his gaze and this sacred rite. Again, my eyes water, accompanied by a flood of emotion from remembering this moment of grace with another human being. My instant response was to bring my hands into prayer position (a gesture in yoga as well) and bow to him. We held our gaze for a moment more, and then he continued blessing the unknowing people walking by.


The devotion to God that this holy man embodied was palpable. He was blessing crowds that did not even acknowledge his existence or recognize the gifts he was offering. He was clearly Catholic, yet the Love he embodied transcended doctrine. Although, I imagine, like others I have met along the way, his religion helped him channel it in a meaningful way in his life.


As I write this article, I am reminded of that Priest, so I may experience that same devotion in writing these words, knowing no one may read them.


All Paths Lead to Love


What if that same blessing of Love is being offered to us every moment of our lives, on every path we take, and in every experience we have? The wind softly brushing against your cheek while singing to you through the rustling of the leaves in the trees. Behind the grumpy man's words and actions, a glimmer of Love shining in his eyes, which can only be seen if you look past appearances. This very breath sustaining your life.


That is the question I ask myself again and again to remind me of Love's constant presence. To help me make a shift from seeking Love to being Love.


That first experience with pure Love is something I can never not know. I can deny it happened or let someone else try to convince me it was not what I remember it being, but that doesn't mean its imprint on my heart is not still present. Deep inside my soul, the Grace of that moment remains. The Love I felt was not associated with a specific faith, belief, or doctrine. It transcends all.


It was and is ever-present, infinite, all-encompassing, unconditional Love.


In Loving Service,


Heather Indu Arena


Thank you for reading! If inspired, please like this post and members, log in, and comment to offer your voice in our Healing Elements Community. I hope my words uplift your spirit while offering you tools and techniques to help you soar. If you appreciated this article, the best way to give back to me is to give to yourself through one of my many transformational programs and services so you know you have support in applying what you read to your own life. Here are three programs that I believe will support you based on the content of this article.


Words for the Soul

Words of inspiration and contemplation to help you feel alive and fulfilled physically, mentally, emotionally, & spiritually. Be inspired, and your soul will sing joyfully!

Join my mailing list so you don’t miss the next published article.


Some of my favorite reads: (There are so many more!)

  • Untethered Soul by Michael Singer

  • A Course in Miracles by Jesus

  • The Power of Now by Elkhart Tole

  • Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

  • The Upanishads

  • The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra

  • A History of God by Karen Armstrong

  • Science of Meditation by Yogacarya Swami Krpalvanand (this one is unfortunately out of print, but you can download it for free or purchase it from a private owner)

  • The Bhagavad Gita and the Atma Gita by Vyasa

  • Tarot for Yourself by Mary K Greer

  • The Tao of Healing by Haven Trevino

  • Tripura Rahasya Translated by Swami Sri Ramanananda Saraswathi


If you would like to have this read to you by me, please click the video below.




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Your words have touched my heart and soul. Thank you for sharing your most intimate and inspiring moments with us in an effort to reveal a pathway to Light and Love.

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Thank you Mom! I Love You 💙

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tonybahia
tonybahia
Dec 14, 2023

Dear beautiful, precious Soul Indu, accept this small gift for your wonderful words of openness that touch truth and eternity with limitless loving resonance : 🤍

( it contains all the living colors you can imagine )

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Received with gratitude Dear One Tonyji!

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Be Inspired!

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