A question to ask yourself:
Are you looking for the moon, or are you following the finger?
This is a question many spiritual teachers have been asking for time immemorial. For good reason. We humans are very susceptible to getting caught up in the 'how things look' vs. the how they really ARE.
We are easily distracted by the surface, externalities of EVERYTHING that then causes us to miss the deeper, subtler and arguably more REAL layers of reality that are happening just under the surface of things.
This is very common in the spirituality world, to see someone who looks transcended, who has the peace/security/awarenesses we want, and rather than seeking what they sought or modeling the JOURNEY they took to get to where they are, we attempt to mimic their CURRENT BEHAVIOUR in the hopes that in so doing we will 'become like them' and thus have what they have.
This is akin to seeing someone who has trained their whole life to be a marathon runner and simply attempting to get up and run a marathon with them. Attempting to stick to their current training schedule, their current ways of eating, their current sleep/wake cycles and so on. This clearly won't work. Trying to jump to where they are by doing what they are doing NOW is not the path - it's not even the path that THEY took to get to where they are. Rather it would be useful instead to figure out what that person was doing when they were where YOU currently are - when they had your level of conditioning and fitness - and model your routine after that.
Secondly, we must understand what we are *really* seeking so as not to lose the forest for the trees. If one was to see how a marathon runner trains and lives, and then attempted to follow that lifestyle EXACTLY - feeling like an utter failure any time they missed a run or went out of bounds with their nutrition - as though the TRAINING PROGRAM was the POINT - they are missing that in fact, it's the running of the MARATHON that's the point.
This focus on the training could cause someone to get discouraged and give up any time they 'went off path.' It could cause them to get SO focused on the training that they forget to run the marathon at all.
Getting caught up in 'training perfectly' can become a complete distraction because again the point is not to train perfectly, the point is to develop fitness and conditioning, as well as flexibility and adaptability, so as to be able to run a successful race. The perfect training isn't the point - and isn't even possible. The reason the marathon runner can run a marathon is not because they trained perfectly - it is because they trained enough with the actual GOAL in mind.
And so it is with the spiritual path.
We are not going to get anywhere of value when we focus on what spiritual people are doing now as though that is the path (because what they are doing now is actually more of a RESULT OF the path than the path itself) nor are we going to get where we want to go if we make the PATH the THING - rather than always reminding ourselves that the POINT is to connect with GOD. The practices are not the point. The practices are not what bring us goodness or worthiness. The practices are TOOLS - not a measuring stick.
We must always remind ourselves that what we seek is the moon. Not the finger.
The Surface Is Not The Path:
The externalities of what a ‘spiritual persons’ life looks like is not a reflection of HOW they got to where they are.
The spiritual people we all admire don’t have the peace, understanding, alignment, vocation, relationship or ideal anything BECAUSE they followed a blueprint or ‘walked the walk’ of a spiritual person.
It’s not because they read the Sutras or the bible.
Not because they had that kundalini awakening or took the plant medicine.
They have it because they had an INTERNAL EXPERIENCE of truth that has translated to their external way of being. There was a shift in awareness and feeling FROM WITHIN - and THAT caused the outer behaviors to shift - because once you really SEE and FEEL something, there is no not changing.
The externalities are a RESULT of the path, not the CAUSE of the path.
The way they eat, the way they interact with people, the way the show up for their emotions, where they live, how they engage or don’t engage in politics, the practices they do on a daily basis - these things, ALL OF these things, are a RESULT of the path they are following, not the CAUSE of where they are or what they know.
Meaning - the inspiration to change one’s way of eating, for example, from the vantage point of a SPIRITUAL PATH - will always happen due to an INTERNAL SHIFT in consciousness that made eating how they used to eat impossible to continue with. They may have had a heart opening that leads them to really GET that animals are suffering and thus they want to eat less meat/dairy. They may have FELT something deep in their bodies that causes them to no longer want to consume certain foods they FEEL make them fatigued/ill/numbed/stimulated or otherwise disconnected. The shift will have come from WITHIN, and from a FEELING - a deep understanding that doesn’t come from a book or a lesson. And even if it DOES come from something they read/heard, the reason it will be a change that they can sustain, a new way of life, will be because they ‘got’ it on a FEELING level. And that shift and feeling would have come as a result of seeking truth. Of seeking God. Not seeking 'the right diet.' The right diet comes as a RESULT of seeking TRUTH - truth does not come from seeking the right diet.
We must centre the goal - truth and God - and let THAT be what shifts us, rather than looking for the shift we should make so as to be 'good enough' or 'on track' or 'doing it right'.
Moon. Not finger.
Same with any kind of spiritual practice. Any way of moving through the world. Any way of being at all.
We Must Focus On The Moon:
This is a concept that is difficult to put into words - but the reality is, the spiritual path is about re-connecting to REALITY. That’s the moon. It’s about knowing what to eat because your BODY, your BIOLOGY speaks to you through feeling. It’s about knowing how to speak to others because you FEEL their soul and their humanity as your own. It’s about non-harming because to harm FEELS BAD. It’s about understanding the natural laws as an EXPERIENCE - not a concept.
If the way you are living your life is coming from trying to ‘follow the rules’ - like if you just do this or that the ‘right way’ you will get a reward/be ‘doing it right’/will eventually one day get out of pain/can rest at night knowing you ticked off all the boxes - this isn’t it. That’s the finger. That’s all the finger.
This path can only be FELT and EXPERIENCED through focusing on what we really WANT - Truth.
Spirituality is not about concepts and ideas and books and lectures. Again those things can SPARK something in us that turns our awareness onto something we didn’t have awareness of before - but it is the FEELING that is the KNOWING. The EXPERIENCING. The EMBODYING.
Transformation, the moon, reality, enlightenment - it’s something you inhabit. It’s not something you read about or follow rules around.
Don’t look to those on the path and copy what they are doing. That’s not it. That’s the finger.
Rather, look for the inspiration of HOW they LIVE INTERNALLY. Look for the path they walked - the messy, discombobulated, confusing, clear, up and down path that they walked - and then assume that your path will be equally non-linear. Let go of the idea of the perfect embodiment of 'spirituality' from where you are now as the WAY to get truth - and realize that as you make truth the goal, the path will pull you. Look deeply at how the people that inspire you make their choices. From where do they get their information? How are they embodying their experience? How are they embracing their moments? What did their path actually look like? What moved them? What moves them now? What are they seeking? Then do as they do in that way.
Learn to FEEL your body.
Learn to BE WITH your emotions.
Learn to LEAN INTO yourself when you have doubt and distrust.
Learn to settle into the not knowing with the open curiosity that says ‘the answer is there I just have to get still enough to find it.’
Tend to what is in front of you - be present in YOUR LIFE the way they are present in THEIR LIVES.
You may or may not end up doing what they do one day - and that’s not the point.
You want God. Not a curriculum. Not a set of rules.
You want to know the natural laws for yourself - not have them be something you know in your head.
You want to EXPERIENCE growth and truth. Knowing it will never be enough.
And all of this only happens through feeling. Being where we are. Seeking TRUTH not a path or a plan.
Be In YOUR Life:
Those you admire are where they are because they were in THEIR LIVES. They felt their way. They leaned in. They experienced. They made shifts and changes based on the shifts and changes that were first and foremost occurring WITHIN. It was never the other way around.
If you’re following what they do, it’s not it. That’s the finger and it will never get you where you want to go.
Follow how they ARE. How they embody and show up. How they witness and notice. How they allow for FEELING. Do the practices that connect you back to YOU. To your awareness of something BIGGER than yourself. To your FEELINGS. To your connection to the DIVINE - the things that FEEL like something to you. THOSE are the ones that are getting you somewhere. Don’t pay any attention to how they LOOK - only the feeling matters. Seek what they were seeking, don't look to be like them.
God/Reality/Truth/Alignment with what is actually pertinent to YOU (Remember, YOUR path will never look exactly like anyone else because it’s yours. Your relative alignment will never match perfectly with anyone else) will be known through SENSATION FIRST. It will be known only to you as you seek truth. You will be inspired by others. You will make similar choices to others - as many laws of reality are just as they are and they apply to all of us. You will find your path to truth and will be inspired by others along the way simultaneously when you make THE THING the goal - not the teacher or guru or any kind of lifestyle. Do not idolize a lifestyle. That's just a path. Seek the TRUTH. This will then filter into your logic and way of being AFTER it’s SENSED, and you will then have your 'action plan'.
You’ll know inside first. Really. Brain and understanding and navigation SECOND.
Return to your quiet. Return to your senses. Return to your centre. Core. Feel.
THIS is the moon.