Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Spirituality Flows

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



WANTED: Spirituality.
Stagnance and savior-seeking
need not apply.

Origins

Our conventional view of spirituality comes from religion.

What is religion?

Religion is basically a stringent set of rites, rules, and practices that are claimed to move the adherents of these rites, rules, and practices closer to God—one that is commonly perceived as “out there” somewhere. As it’s set forth that the rites, rules, and practices are created and given by God and are “The Truth,” they rarely if ever change.

Concurrently, although religious sects number in the thousands, many of these religions will claim themselves, if indirectly, as “The One Right Way,” and will purport that without them one cannot know God. They will further assert, if indirectly, that the positions within their clerical hierarchy define depth of wisdom and closeness to God—with all positions above and separate from the average congregant. Religions will sometimes further push that those who don’t follow obediently will be punished—perhaps forever.

At least by the ages-old viewpoint, it would seem that religion begets spirituality and spirituality has a clear, set course: all are to follow the same, supposedly God-prescribed path, and they will be rewarded, often not until the afterlife, if they follow adequately.

Into the Flow

In my own experience and what seems to be the experience of many who see themselves as spiritually-oriented although with minimal if any with religious attachments, I have to contend that the spiritual path includes far fewer restrictions and demands than religion and much more flow.

Be Where You Are. Go Where You Need To Be.

One primary way in which spirituality flows is with regard to spiritual teachers.

The spiritual teacher who you first learn from is not necessarily the spiritual teacher you’ll be walking with 1, 15, or 65 years later. Furthermore, if you’re truly evolving spiritually, you’ll eventually become the spiritual teacher (if in being rather than deliberation), for you’ll have acquired the very wisdom you’d once sought.

Think of this like schooling:

If you want to learn math at the level of algebra, you only need a teacher who has a satisfactory understanding of algebra. Once you learn algebra sufficiently, not only would you then move to a teacher who teaches the next level of math, but you would now be in a position to teach algebra to others.

It is so that you can be taught algebra by a teacher whose forte is calculus. In some instances this might be okay, but such a teacher might only teach higher-level courses. And if the calculus teacher were to try to teach you calculus before you’re ready, you simply wouldn't be able to grasp it, and you'd walk out. None of this being to suggest hierarchy or better-than/less-than, but merely to provide a realistic view. Eventually, were it your will, you would become the calculus student and later the calculus teacher.

Now, suppose you’d become interested in probability but your current teacher hadn’t learned it. Maybe your current teacher, in her zealous "certainty," tries to selfishly tell you what to do: "Probability isn't even real math—it's calculated guess work. You'd best stay away from that!" The reasonable response would be for you to find a new teacher, one who would be able to support your higher good.

It's important to see that:
  1. A true teacher gives freely and allows the student to move on in due time, even when this means the student will surpass the teacher in a particular area;
  2. A false teacher creates a power struggle, withholds and distorts information, and maintains student dependence;
  3. Student-teacher alignment varies based on resonance and where one is on their path;
  4. The teacher and student are equally important to each other.
Spiritual growth is the same way. Every being in existence has a different path. Every being in existence also has a different perspective and a different way of coming to answer questions such as, “Why am I here?” and, “Who is God?”

You and I and everyone else must each therefore find our own way. And whatever way this may be for any given one of us, it will flow because it’s our personal path—it’s the path most aligned with our soul’s evolution and our life’s unfoldment.

My Own Experience

I was born into Roman Catholicism and did all the typical Roman Catholic things. I’d always rejected the religion internally—it didn’t feel good to me at all—but I’d also forced it on myself because it seemed the safest option.

This went on for around 24 years until I’d finally had the courage to be honest with myself and to put my own needs before the selfish desires and unkind judgments of others. At this time, not only did I drop religion, but I’d become apathetic—I felt no connection to religion, and had no idea what spirituality was since I’d always perceived religion and spirituality to effectively be the same thing.

Then at 25 years old, now nearly 10 years ago, I had a spontaneous spiritual awakening and met a spiritual teacher a few years later. I’ve read many of his blog posts, watched many of his livestreams, and had a few one-on-one sessions with him.

About 2 years ago, I began feeling that his work was not supporting my needs any longer. This is not to suggest anything negative—I would happily recommend him to others—but for whatever reasons, the resonance simply shifted. I took note of my increasing disinterest, I accepted this feeling, and I let go.

To point out, at no time did this teacher ever even hint at things such as, “I know ‘The One Right Way’,” or, “Give me your money and allegiance and follow my rules or don’t bother coming around (or you can burn in hell).” Quite contrarily, he lived and spoke his truth, he clearly stated that he is here to help others know themselves and their own truths, and he ran his work based on suggested donation rather than guilt-based financial demand.

During my time on the spiritual path, I’ve also read plenty of books related to spirituality. These books have been written by authors/teachers from all walks of life. I’ve read them all with an open mind, I’ve taken what I’ve found to be useful, and I’ve left behind what didn’t resonate. Some of these books I’ve reread, interpreted previously-read ideas in a fresh way, and then accepted the ideas my own and will continue to do so—unless I become aware of something I perceive as better, for me. All the same could be said for spiritually-based videos.

As for what's next? I don't know, and it doesn't bother me to not know. Life will provide the next spiritual teacher, in whatever form, when the time is ripe.

Stagnance and Self-Inquiry

Recently, I’ve reevaluated some sources from which I’ve been going to for information for several years. These sources are not teachers, per se, but they are providers of information, and where there is the acceptance of information, there is also learning. But mind you, learning doesn’t always mean that what we’re accepting is true or useful.

After some “what do you think of such-and-such” conversations with a friend who is quite familiar with the information, I got asking myself questions such as:
  • What am I getting from this?
  • How much has this served me in the past?
  • Am I too attached?
  • How is this helping me?
  • How many times has this been right or wrong?
  • When I don't read this stuff for a time, do I feel fear as though I'm missing something?

What I came to realize is that, although I have a lot of respect for the providers of the information and know their intent is for the best, I can no longer justify giving my power to them in the way I had. This isn’t to say I was regularly commenting on their blogs, donating money, or anything like that—and I certainly wasn’t idolizing them! But I’d still been regularly visiting their websites or receiving periodic emails and, far more than I’d realized prior to the self-inquiry, placing trust into them as though they know better than I.

I’m not about throwing the baby out with the bath water, and I’m not saying that these sources have never been useful or are now dead to me. But do the pros outweigh the cons? How useful is the information to me in reaching greater clarity, peace, understanding, etc. at this time? How do I feel when I view it, light or heavy?

The less we’re moving forward, the more we’re in stagnation. The more we’re in stagnation, the more what we perceive becomes “normal,” the less we become able to recognize how unhealthy our situation has actually is, and the more we become fearful of change.

We would therefore do well to self-inquire of the different aspects of whatever makes up our spiritual life. It’s totally fine to stick with what works for as long as it works. But it's quite easy to get used to a certain way of going about and then become so identified with it that we both lose sight of what’s really happening and become numb to any feelings which are guiding us toward a different path.

Use the Useful Unless It’s Useless

Other examples of change within the flow of spirituality are as follows:
  • Meditation and/or contemplation practices may change.
  • Affirmations and/or mantras may change.
  • One might go on a self-inquiry “rampage” one year but by the next hardly inquire at all.
  • The course of spirituality may begin in a very practice-oriented manner but evolve into a being-oriented experience.
  • The student may eventually become the teacher. The hurt may become the healer.
  • One’s diet will change, perhaps many times.
At any time in the flow of spirituality—which is an evolutionary way of life, not merely a standardized event reserved for Saturday or Sunday mornings—new practices may be picked up at any time, and old practices may be released at any time.

As our consciousness, or our level of Self-awareness, and the energies of life shift, so, too, do our spiritual needs and practices.

As we progress, we come to realize that all of Life is our teacher, and that our true Guide is within; we realize that all external tools (ritual, chant, etc.), if healthy and appropriately applied, are meant to increase our awareness of this Guide but are only useful in their appropriate time and place.

Like good craftsmen, when we need a single screwdriver, we reach into our toolbox, pull out a single screwdriver, and take it to where our project is. Unless we need many tools at the same time, we don’t take the loaded, 60-pound toolbox all around with us. We use a given tool when we need it, and we don’t use a saw when we need a hammer. When we’re done with any tools we’d been using, we put them away. If we don’t have a tool to achieve a certain end, then we find some way to obtain this tool (or make it ourselves) and learn how to use it. If we have sufficient experience with a given tool, we might give it to another and teach them how to use it.

Flow

As we go through life, family changes, friends change, activities changes, bodies change, and, well, everything changes.

Why wouldn’t the same hold true for our spiritual needs and practices?

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