When asked about the path of practice, Buddha explained that there are four ways for spiritual life to unfold. The first way is quickly and with pleasure. In this, opening and letting go come naturally, like an easy birth, accompanied by joy and rapture. The second way is quickly and painfully. On this path we might face a powerful near-death experience, an accident, or the unbearable loss of someone we hold beloved. This path passes through a flaming gate to teach us about letting go. The third form of spiritual progress is gradual and accompanied with pleasure. In this way opening and letting go happen over a period of years, predominantly with ease and delight. The fourth and most common path is also slow and gradual, but takes place predominantly through suffering. Difficulty and struggle are a recurrent theme, and through them we gradually learn to awaken.