A View Of Pragmatic Spirituality

In case you missed them, please do read:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three.

Today we’re going to look at a possibility for a spiritual life.

We’re going to look at what spirituality *may* become when we move past looking to fix ourselves or looking to perfect our human experience.

We’re going to explore what spirituality that has taken on a deeply personal bend can feel like - and we are going to look at how spirituality can INCLUDE getting our needs met and feeling like we are growing - without this being what CONSUMES our entire experience.

Spirituality can be a deeply personal and fulfilling thing, let’s look at how.

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Why We Can’t Get Spirituality ‘Wrong’

For the purposes of this discussion, I want to make it very clear that I empathize with anyone out there who is using their spirituality as a way of trying to manifest more material security. I am not saying that there is *NEVER* any physical/material reality aspect to spirituality because the reality is our material selves are a part of who we are - and our spirituality is going to INCLUDE all of who we are. I’m not saying that desiring more physical security or luxury is wrong or inherently ‘unspiritual’. All I’m wanting to point out here is that beyond a certain level of security, more things, wealth, luxury, power and approval doesn’t appear to bring more satisfaction, meaning or true purpose to our lives.

I’m also saying that in real reality, the way ‘abundance’ is taught in the Western world just isn’t in alignment with real reality. 

There is simply no healthy way for all of us to have so much more than we need because this would mean a degradation of our natural environment that would be inherently detrimental to our survival AND because the WAY we create abundance as we currently know it DEPENDS on exploitation. 

There simply isn’t actually enough for all of us to have luxury. What there IS enough for is for all of us to have ENOUGH. If we were to shift from our hyperindividualism towards a more community based way of living, we truly COULD have a society where nearly everyone is taken care of - and I believe that this would lead us to much deeper levels of security and satisfaction, that would give way more of us the capacity to explore the deeper layers of spirituality I am going to explore below. 

First off, I do believe that the safer we are generally speaking, the ‘easier’ it’s going to be to pursue spirituality that isn’t purely wrapped up in trying to be/do good so that we will get our needs met. We have to remember that we are beings that want to survive first and foremost - and this means that when we are in states of true insecurity, our minds are GOING to be focused there. And I feel it’s important that we don’t shame anyone for being in this place. Again I think a lot of us are in situations that are truly very challenging and sometimes all we have left in terms of hope is that there is going to be some spiritual answer - and I feel like compassion for this is really important. 

I also believe again, that so much of our insecurity is manufactured - and this leads us to feeling deeply inadequate and like we aren’t going to be loved, aren’t going to be safe and aren’t going to be able to be HAPPY unless we ‘fix’ ourselves. This SO EASILY turns into pursuing becoming some spiritual caricature - thinking that if we just ‘do all the right things’ and get our mindsets/spiritual practices just right, we will again, be able to transcend the pain we are experiencing in life via becoming a perfected version of self.

This deep lack of self love, this deep feeling that we are wrong, bad, shameful, sinful and that it is something fundamental to us that is ‘blocking us’ from having the connection, the safety, the happiness and the freedom in life that we want is continually perpetuated in our culture - and again it makes total sense that *most people* are using their spirituality not as a way to truly connect with themselves or to some greater meaning in life - but rather to try to FIX what they perceive to be broken about who they are.

Now again, I am not trying to say that there can be no room for personal growth in our spiritual practices. In fact I’m saying the opposite - when we are on a spiritual path, there is going to be inevitable change in how we live, how we see the world, how we operate, what we value, the things we do and don’t participate in and so on. It’s natural that as we progress along our spiritual paths that we transform - and this is really what ‘should’ happen.

But when the ROOTS of that transformation are planted in the soil of self hate - I feel that this is where we get blown off path. This is where we enter into the self improvement sphere that is widely controlled by human ideas about what’s right and wrong/good and bad and doing what it takes to ‘fit in’ to SOCIETY vs. finding a TRUE path of spirituality.

What I think is most misunderstood about spirituality is this - people who are living a truly spiritual life (in my observation and by my definition, you are free to disagree) are the people who have stopped looking outside themselves for a guru/teacher/rule book. They are no longer using their spirituality to ‘get’ something, or even to become something specific or to change something specific about themselves.

A Deeper Look At Spirituality Beyond Fixing

Rather, their journeys have taken on a much different flavor. 

Generally what I have observed is that those who are living a ‘spiritual’ life are the ones who show it the least. Are the ones who don’t preach, don’t tell others about their spiritual path much, don’t tell others how to be spiritual and don’t try to define spirituality for anyone. They tend to be those who are most interested in a direct connection to REALITY - and rather than seeing life as being segregated into ‘secular’ and ‘spiritual’ things - they see all of life as one grand dance of connection. 

These people tend to be ones who aren’t so concerned with ‘who they really are’ or finding some ‘ultimate’ truth that they can hold onto and share with others - but rather have come into a place of surrender to the fact that there are things we may never know, and that we are perpetually going to be discovering for as long as we live. They tend to hold their own identities loosely - not trying to get rid fo them any more than they are clinging to any one version of self.

These people tend to be ones who are looking to perpetually grow into less and less harmful beings, and who WANT to know where they are causing pain and destruction because they aren’t wrapped up in shame, blame or guilt - but rather know deep down that they are human, that they are good enough, and that they will always have bias, blindspots and areas to work through to become more harmonious.

These people tend to have less of a concern around others knowing or thinking of them as being ‘spiritual’ or really what others think of them in general - because they are living for a deeper purpose. They again tend to be more concerned with their impact, as well as how well they can support others in finding their happiness, vs. being perceived any particular way.

When we get on a deep spiritual path, we tend to become people who are perpetually curious about life, rather than racing to try to get it all figured out. There comes a deep, abiding trust that we WILL figure things out as we go, that there’s no race or finish-line. That there will always be challenges and change, and that we can find peace even within all of that because we also have the foundations of what we know, what works and what’s real.

In grounded spirituality, there’s no need to ‘prove’ one's spirituality. There’s no need to be seen as spiritual - because there’s a deep INTERNAL knowing of who we are, what we are, and what we are connecting to.

In grounded spirituality there is often a connection to something that can’t be explained - to ‘God’ or ‘reality’ - and oftentimes this connection goes without a form or title or specific label. Again not to say that those who conceptualize this connection as something AREN’T truly spiritual - it’s just to say that oftentimes the awareness of what we are connecting to becomes so vast it is truly a challenge to try to compartmentalize it into any one specific thing.

With that connection comes an abiding sense of being ok. Being loved. Being cherished. Being challenged and being guided. A sense that again, usually can’t be explained and tends to be something that’s just ‘there.’ All the time. Often it takes a lot of effort to establish this connection, and it’s very normal for spiritual seekers to go through (possibly a long) phase of questing, trying, chasing and challenging before they finally settle into a connection that feels settled and real - and once this happens it tends to sort of ‘stick.’

In my experience, and in studying people and their spiritual paths for most of my life, what I can say with confidence is that people who are really on a path of spirituality generally don’t walk their life path with dogma, rules or projecting what others ‘should and shouldn’t’ be doing in terms of THEIR lives and spiritual path.

A lot of the time, when we are really on a path of spirituality, our spiritual paths and practices are going to be intensely personal, internal, and rooted in a motivation that can’t really be shared or expressed to others.

What I’ve witnessed in myself and others is that the more this path of spiritual growth is coming from an authentic place, the more it becomes a path where you are no longer looking for ‘the rule book’ in terms of looking for the ‘right’ teacher/specific path/specific modality to help you ‘connect’ to ‘truth.’ Rather it again comes from this deep INNER connection that tends to be a guide that takes over. So there can be a study of/appreciation of the wisdom and insights of others - other spiritual paths and other spiritual teachings - without latching onto any of them as being THE ONE TRUTH where all others are false. There tends to be a capacity to see what’s valuable, what’s real, and what tends to hold up in reality about ALL perspectives. There’s a richness, vastness and layered quality to this kind of spirituality that again, doesn’t end in any one dogma.


There tends to be a lot less ‘rule following’ and rather a lot more reality following. Cause and effect. Looking at actual outcomes. Looking at actual impact. Looking at systems and larger cause and effect mechanisms. There tends to be a deep appreciation for patterns and how things work - rather than a resistance to this.

Less Dogma, More Experiencing

I also believe that at a point our spirituality is going to become less about being devoted to something specific – a specific practice or expression of prayer/worship/service and we will gravitate more towards a kind of humanitarian service lens. 

Our practices will be personal. 

We will have our disciplines and practices that shift and change as we shift and change – because again there won’t be an attachment to any particular ‘thing’ that gives you that feeling of connection/rightness but rather the disciplines will be more about reminding ourselves of that connection, and they will be like any other relationship we want to nourish – we practice because we want to nourish our connection vs. doing the practices to prove something/earn something/be good/do right. Then the rest of it again will be more about how we can use our lives to help make this world just a little better for all those around us, in whatever ways we can – big and small. The devotion will be to LIFE itself vs. to an entity that we are hoping will bless us/reward us for our devotion.

I also believe that with time, our spiritual paths help us to manage the existential realities of being alive without us having to have solid, ultimate answers.

There again comes a knowing that perhaps we won’t ever really ‘know’ some truths. That we may feel we have a sense of what the truth is, what reality is, how this whole thing works – while also constantly being open to being proven wrong, to having our perspective expanded and to having a new piece of information come in to change what we currently believe.

I believe that eventually, we stop trying to get rid of or transcend any part of self or any part of the human experience. There comes a deep understanding that this human life is what it is – that we aren’t here to try to escape it or to avoid any aspects or layers of it – but rather that we can bring our spirituality TO all of it. We stop seeing negative emotions, negative experiences, traumas, flaws in our thinking or behavior as something that separates us from God, and start seeing it as just what it is – a part of the path.

Everything becomes the path at some point. 

Everything becomes part of the truth at some point.

 Everything becomes part of the devotion at some point. 

There comes an acceptance of what is, with a balanced desire to shift, grow and change perpetually.

An ability to feel ENOUGH where we are, while also knowing that everything is going to change and expand with time. 

We let go of seeing any of it as ‘wrong’ and shift into a perspective of ‘how can I improve what I CAN improve, and how can I embrace that which I have no control over?’

We let go of trying to make life or ourselves anything specific, we hold our goals lightly, we hold our dreams lightly, we pursue and live as everyone else – knowing that we also have little ultimate control and knowing that we will always be in a position to face challenges and to have life totally redirect itself.

Again, I am not here to tell anyone what true spirituality is. If none of the above resonates with you – that’s totally fine. I am not here to say that a strict devotional path lacks true connection or that any form of spirituality I’ve listed above is right or wrong. These are simply my observations over time.

I also want to acknowledge that oftentimes there are phases to our spiritual path. Many of us are going to pass THROUGH the phases of making our spirituality about the material world. Then we will pass THROUGH a phase of making our spirituality about self-improvement and changing ourselves in some way because this is so heavily conditioned to be something we seek in our culture. We are so deeply programmed to believe that we are a problem to be fixed, that there’s almost no way in which we aren’t going to bring that into our spiritual practices. Also a lot of spiritual paths perpetuate this thinking which again, leads to us following along with it because we’re being told that that’s what spirituality is! Changing yourself, purifying yourself, becoming something BETTER than what you are right now to be worthy of love/compassion/deliverance/hope/provision.

I believe that many of us will oscillate in these phases too. There will be times when we are deeply focused on our survival needs and we will lean into our spirituality to try to help us navigate these things. We will go through phases of wanting to change and grow – and this doesn’t mean we aren’t loving ourselves or that we are trying to ‘prove’ something, but rather we will do these things from a place of wanting to cause less harm.

We will grow and change.

We will shift.


Again, it will likely become a lot less external, and a lot more internal in terms of our spiritual experience. The external will start to take on a shape of service to humanity – without needing to be seen as anything specific.

There will be humility in it. Knowing when enough is enough, when enough resources are enough, enough connection is enough, enough doing is enough, enough service is enough, enough devotion is enough. There will be a sense that we don’t have to be everything, we just have to be what WE can be, what WE are capable of at any given moment – with lots of grace for self and others in-between.

We will start to operate from a level of compassion and understanding for the human condition – and again with this we will make room for all sorts of spiritual expression to be ‘right.’ There will be a DESIRE to understand others, vs. needing to push OUR view of things as ‘the right one.’

There will be an understanding that the acts, the works, the things we do – that’s all for this life. That’s all for aligning with reality the best that we can, to create as much harmony as we can while we’re here. That will be about understanding that it’s nice to have a life where we have harmony. But we don’t do these things to earn connection, we don’t do these things to earn love, we don’t do these things because they ‘make us spiritual.’ We do them because they make sense to do. They feel good. They give us good results. There will be an understanding that our spirituality helps us SEE what is beneficial, what helps, what works, what’s practical – and that ultimately again, we do these things because they feel good! They make our lives and the lives of those around us better. But this isn’t ‘spirituality’. This isn’t the goal. This is the OUTCOME.

Our spirituality will lead us to seeing that which is beneficial and it will help us do those things from a place of grounded practicality – we like feeling good. We like contributing to a world that feels good for others.

Our spirituality will be that internal connection that underpins and drives everything. We won’t be doing the externals FOR our spiritual practice or to gain connection but BECAUSE of our spiritual practice and connection.

The connection will come first – it will be the constant. It will be what’s THERE. Everything outside of that will be a RESULT.

Our Spirituality As The Driver - Not What’s Being Driven After

Our spirituality will be the driver of action, we won’t be doing the action to try to create the spirituality.

So with this, I think all I want to say is – you are worthy of the connection you desire.

That you are good enough, and there’s no flaw in you that is causing you NOT to have the connection that you want.

I want you to remember that there’s nothing to prove or live up to in spirituality. It’s really just about bringing what YOU are, right here, right now, to the table, and allowing that to be enough.

Because you are enough.

You are enough just as you are.

You don’t have to prove anything. You don’t have to do anything.

Your spiritual connection isn’t based on works or service or devotion – all of that is the outcome of spirituality not the way to spirituality.

The way TO spirituality is to realize that you are already worthy of that connection. You are already equipped to have access. That you bring what YOU are is all that needs to happen.

There’s no judgment.


There’s no rulebook to follow.


There’s nothing you must become – that’s all human invention.

There’s also no promise of what your life will LOOK LIKE when you take on this path of spirituality. There’s no outcome we are all going to be guaranteed to experience. There’s no path that’s right for all of us because we are all SO different and require such different things.

Your path will look like yours.


So allow yourself to explore the teachings, teachers and practices that resonate with you. Let yourself go through your phases of making it about the material or about changing yourself. Be open to what calls to you and allow yourself to fully GO THERE – to learn from it. Don’t worry if it’s ‘real spirituality’ or not. Rather invest in your EXPERIENCE of it. Really make your focus what you are FEELING. How you are being EXPANDED. Hold it all lightly – and allow yourself to change, transition and grow as you do. Don’t lock yourself into anything.

Know that it’s ok to focus on the physical sometimes. To want something. To desire change and growth and change – own that. Be in that. Go there. Let yourself explore it. Really observe.

Don’t resist your journey.

Just keep remembering that your connection is yours and no one can give it to you and no one can take it away. No one practice or teaching is it – but if it helps YOU connect, go for it.

Be wary of anything that tells you that you NEED it in order to be connected.

Be wary of anything that challenges you to ACT in a specific way without a true sense of why and motivation from within.

Be wary of anything that preaches to be the only way.

Be wary of anything that’s overly about the physical and overly about fixing yourself.

Keep remembering these words – your connection is yours and its available to you at all times. There’s no one right way to live, nor one right way to practice spirituality.

So what FEELS like spirituality to you? What FEELS like connection? What FEELS like truth?

Follow that.

Let it lead you.

It will.


Trust.

You don’t need anyone to tell you, take what resonates from others and leave the rest.

Your spirituality is yours, and that is the true key.

Yours to have, just as you are, right here right now.


You are enough.

Always.

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