Friday, May 17, 2019

The Spiritual and the Religious; the Active and the Awake

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

Are being spiritually active and spiritually awake the same?

Are spiritual activity and religious activity the same?

If they’re different, why?

Spiritual Activity

Attending a religious service, praying, reading a holy book, and chanting a Sanskrit mantra might be considered spiritual activities.

What may come as a surprise is that activities such as gardening, making music, and cooking can also be spiritually-oriented.

While we don’t generally think of the latter group as pertaining to spirituality, truth is, the former group isn’t necessarily spiritual either. It’s dependent upon the mentality of the doer.

Stated in uncommon terms, what would make an activity spiritual is the removal of one’s attention from the left-mind-based, dualistic illusion we think of as “reality” and a placement of focus instead on one’s beingness. Whether praying or painting, if the doer is focused in-the-moment and without egoic attachment, the activity becomes a spiritual activity. One does not have to be aware of one’s self as being spiritually active in order to reap the benefits.

It should be said, however, that some spiritual activities offer greater benefits than others. Meditation is a prime example due to its intense inward focus.

Spiritual activity will advance one along the spiritual path (whatever that means for a given person), but it’s neither a prerequisite for nor an assurer of a spiritual awakening in a given lifetime.

Spiritual Wakefulness

It can be said that a spiritual awakening is “the soul realizing itself in human form.”

Awakening is a radical shift in an individual’s perception of “who I am” and “how life is.”

Awakening begins the divinely guided process of seeing and releasing all that isn’t true to one’s inherent, pure-spirited nature. This is to say, karma must be balanced: fears and false beliefs must be removed, traumas must be healed, repressed emotions must be felt, forgiveness must be given, and so on. With intuitive awareness, all these things become clear, they cannot be unseen, and avoidance of them quickly makes them worse.

Contrast this to unawakened experience: life externally reflects internal troubles to everyone for healing but runs on more of a go-at-your-own-pace timetable and allows for a great deal of avoidance (think: coping mechanisms such as alcoholism and complaining).

As to how awakening comes about perceptually, this can’t be said specifically. Even though all souls, as individual beings, will ultimately come to the same spiritual realizations about self, God, and existence, in the beginning awakening hits everyone in a more or less different way: one person might suddenly recall memories from past lives, another person might unexpectedly fall into a state of profound mental silence and peace, another person might receive intuitive awareness of alternate dimensions, another person (as happened with me) might simply realize that something has changed dramatically, though the “what” may be uncertain, and they’re now strongly drawn to and intuitively aware of the finer, lighter, and more natural things of life.

Absent previous spiritual activity, a person will be drawn toward it upon having a spiritual awakening. If they’d been spiritually active prior to awakening, their activity will be enhanced and they will see an intensification of benefits. They will also have a better sense of which activities are best suited to them as an individual. If a person had been religiously active, any religious falsities will become clear and change will become a necessity.

A Glimpse of Beyond

When yet unawakened and whether someone is spiritually active or not, it is possible for a person to be graced with a momentary glimpse beyond the veil This could be described as receiving a taste of any variation of awakened perception.

For example, a person might be out in the woods and suddenly feel a deep inner peace and a strong sense of connection with all the life around them. Or while intensely training their bodies for a sporting competition they might experience a “runner’s high.” Using certain drugs or having a Near Death Experience can bring about the most profound of these glimpses beyond.

Whatever the case, the glimpse-type of experience could be called a “spiritual opening,” for while it may be intense in its spiritual/metaphysical/mystical implications, once it passes—and it will—an experiencer can and will often choose to go right back to doing whatever they’d been doing prior as if nothing had ever happened.

Timing of Awakening

A spiritual awakening is bestowed by Divine Grace. It comes in its own Divine Timing and cannot be forced to happen. It is not an intellectual or scientific discovery, and you don’t find it, it finds you—within.

A person can do all sorts of religious and/or spiritual practices everyday of their life, but there is a fundamental, soul-triggered shift that’s required for an awakening.

This is not to discourage spiritual practice. By all means, do it! Spiritual activity can still bring great positive change to one’s self and the world. It’s just to say that there is a difference—a huge difference—between being spiritually active and having had a spiritual awakening, the timing of which is anyone’s guess.

We’re all created from the same Source and will all return to the same Source. The difference is in the paths we take, these paths being set by our souls. When one’s soul says it’s time to awaken, it’s time to awaken, regardless of how spiritually active a given person had been beforehand.

Spiritual Activity Versus Religious Activity

In pointing out differences between spiritual activity and spiritual wakefulness, there’s a kind of challenge that may arise, and this is to avoid equating being spiritually active—and especially spiritually awake—with being religiously active.

I’ve gone over this topic a number of times before and don’t wish to repeat it here. I only wish to point out that because religions (mostly Western) have so often distorted spiritual truth, a great many people who have been following their religion religiously have been religiously active, not spiritually active.

To those for whom this applies, I realize this may be profoundly upsetting and very difficult to accept—or liberating if you allow it. It is true nevertheless and can be recognized due to its support of the limited mindset of “who I am” and “how life is” that we’ve been collectively carrying for eons—the mindset of lack, unworthiness, guilt, victimhood, shame, innate sinfulness, separation from God, etc.

Spiritual truth states that all of existence—be it mineral, plant, animal, human, cell, water, star—everything!—is on a level playing field; All That Is is unconditionally loved by and in oneness with God; abundance, perfection, and wholeness are everywhere. (This not to suggest the endorsement of wearing rose-colored glasses.)

Also, religion (again, Western) often has a heavy focus on spirituality as being rooted in intellectual knowledge. This idea is propagated and perpetuated by false religious teachings and a world culture that focuses on the need to “know” and get “out there” while completely denying what is “in here.”

True spiritual activity and spiritual wakefulness drive a process of unlearning. This is not to say that the intellect is thrown out like moldy bread—there’s nothing wrong with learning. It’s simply understood both that much of what we learn is contrary to spiritual truth and that the sheer conceptualization and endlessly gathering and studying of data from “out there” does not help us to know who or what we and God truly are.

“How Do I Know If I’m Spiritually Active?”

Now that we’ve looked at the difference between spiritual activity and spiritual wakefulness and have pointed out that religious activity doesn’t necessarily equate with spiritual activity or spiritual wakefulness, it’s worth gaining more clarity as to what spiritual activity is and how we would know it.

Generally, a consequence of the spiritual path is that the one practicing feels good.

Ideally, when we meditate or chant “Shri Ram Jai Ram” or sing “Ave Maria” or help the homeless, it makes us feel good in a non-egoic way. Such an activity is a spiritual activity because lifts our spirits and helps to lift the spirits of others.

What are not spiritual activities, for example, are reading scripture because we feel forced to, or meditating on a street corner for the sake of being seen as “spiritual people,” or dumping our paths on others because we’ve been told that our way is “The One Right Way.”

These activities may please us very momentarily as we feel the relief of having satisfied our or someone else’s selfish desires, but they will not inherently feel good to us, we will continue craving/needing more, and they will not help to lift our spirits or anyone else’s.

Worse is when there’s a religious activity that’s claimed to be “spiritual” such as the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I can’t speak for everyone, perhaps for a few people it really does help, but on consideration of my own life experience and between my observations and my intuitive “get” of the lives of others, confessing (purported) sins to a priest (who is himself a sinner) under the false and insensible belief that the confessor is too unworthy to directly request forgiveness from God is replete with unnecessary guilt, shame, and self-rejection.

Yes, the confessor may feel a shred better afterward thinking that their sins had actually been forgiven. But guilt, which is often bogus, had obviously driven them to the confessional, and should they slip up just once afterward—and they will—the guilt will settle right back in. But really, as I've seen with myself and far too many others, the guilt simply never leaves; nothing ever actually heals because the base, subconscious programming never changes.

This is not spiritual—it’s torture.

Keep the following in mind, too, for it is no small thing:

As much as the spiritual path generally leaves a person feeling good in consequence—this for the reason that it usually feels good to be free, to be kind, to be loving, to be in integrity, and so on—the path is not about feeling good; it’s not about going out and trying to feel good; it’s not about getting a spiritual high.

Spirituality is far removed from our conventional way of thinking and feeling because the spiritual path is about feeling everything that arises, which includes healing old, repressed hurts and being able to witness others who hurt without needing to avoid it or change it.

Our world culture, and many times even religion, has told us to avoid pain or “fix” it; it’s told us that if something discomforts us, stuff the emotion down, go drink a beer or get a few dopamine hits through new Facebook likes, and then resentfully complain about what offends us to our neighbor.

On the spiritual path, rather than running away when pain—more specifically: suffering—arises, the feeling is felt into and self-inquired about as to why it’s arising. The issue can then be resolved. Painful though this can be upfront, the result is some smaller or greater degree of freedom, peace, love, and so forth within. Naturally, these same qualities reflect themselves without.


With these distinctions being given between the spiritual and the religious, between the active and the awake, bear in mind that this is not meant to be any kind of judgment of “who is better than” and “who is less than.”

We all wake up in whatever lifetime we wake up in: it’s a matter of soul choice, not, say, a measure of God’s love for a particular individual or God’s rejection of another. We’ve all come from the same place and we’re all going back to the same place, but we’re all on different paths with different timings.

The best any of us can do is be true to ourselves and live for the soul purposes we’ve come here to live. This is where non-judgmental self-security is found.

If we’re not feeling secure in our beliefs and choices, if we become angry and feel jealousy when others appear more spiritually aware than us, then we’re not being true to ourselves or to the purposes we’ve come here to live.

I mean, sort of, we may be. If we’d come here to experience what it’s like to get entangled in false religio-spiritual ideas (and we all get entangled in something), then fine. But there’s no path designed to go in without coming back out. Distortion is used to reveal “what is not” in order for us, should we choose healing, to more deeply realize what we are. In this realization is self-truth and self-security.

Follow the Flow

As water and electricity follow the path of least resistance, so do those who walk a spiritual path. (We do our best, anyway!)

This does not mean that they avoid pain, per se, for pain is a guidepost. But they do make a continuous effort to understand their pain as well as pain’s close friend, suffering, as not to keep repeating them. To avoid is to resist, and to resist is to create more pain and suffering.

It would thus do us well to examine our religious and/or spiritual practice if we have one. Are we being religiously active and, as commonly happens, perpetuating pain and suffering? Are we truly spiritually active, religiously or not?

If we don’t have a spiritual practice, I’m not so sure we can simply start one. Maybe, but I think it’s more of an internal thing: either the interest is there or it’s not; we can’t make it be there. And there’s nothing wrong with this, for it’s the soul’s desire or it wouldn’t be happening.

Although, we might begin a meditation practice. Because, really, there’s actually nothing particularly spiritual about basic meditation—it’s simply a focus on the “space between.”

Whatever happens, happens; whatever doesn’t, doesn’t. Either way, since we’re innately spiritual beings and meditation reconnects us with this beingness, we must see improvements both spiritual and otherwise reflected in everyday life. These could show up as peace, as more intent focus, greater happiness, or whatever like that…

You know, the things we all wish for but haven't yet found by any external means.

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