Today we are going to finish up our exploration of HOW to use spiritual practices for their HIGHEST GOOD - to discover and express yourself. Why we may use them to try to run from ourselves, and how to ensure that we are doing what we truly need to do for ourselves to find peace in this life.
The Practice Is NOT The Point:
If your practices turn you into any kind of caricature, they did not serve their function. They were used as a way of molding yourself into something you thought would be acceptable - innocently - to the outside world, or something you thought would make you acceptable to God/the Universe/whatever you have deified.
We are generally speaking, a population of people looking for the world to approve of us - thinking this is what success in life and happiness is. We can often bring this mistaken idea into our practices, hoping that by committing to our way of being, we will change OURSELVES to be able to handle things we can’t actually tolerate, that we will become something we know others want us to become, or that we will become ‘great’ in a way that will make others like us. This is the cul-de-sac that often MOST distracts us from the real work of the awakening process.
We must first come face to face with an honest assessment of WHY we are doing our practices before they are going to be something we can use for the genuine purpose of awakening.
Why We Practice:
Most of us take on our practices/pursue healing/spirituality for a mixed bag of reasons. Those reasons are:
- We feel the existential pain of NOT being ourselves. We start to face the ‘who am I?’ “Why am I Here?’ “Why am I doing all of ‘this’ life stuff?’ We feel the hollow depression in our day to day, the deep anxiety that we project onto our bodies/money/relationships, we feel hopeless and fearful with big questions we have no answers to. We are starting to see that life doesn’t work the way we have been taught that it does. We are unsatisfied and there are holes in the stories we are being told.
- We fear ourselves, and we fear learning. We feel deeply ashamed of who and what we are due to having been shamed for who and what we are. We are afraid of not knowing what we don’t know, and we are afraid that if what we DO currently know isn’t ‘it’ - isn’t the answer to why we are in pain and what will bring us pleasure - that there simply isn’t an answer. We are scared to admit that there may be something that DOES exist that we don’t currently see. We would rather believe we have the ‘right answer’ right now and that what we are doing WILL WORK one day - and we like to look to others who are doing what we’re doing and convincing themselves that it’s working, thus relying on consensus reality vs. real reality - because we are so scared to admit that we don’t know. We are scared if we don’t know, and if society doesn’t know that we are doomed - rather than seeing that we can learn. We turn to our practices thinking they will offer some peace in and of themselves, that doing yoga or cleansing or practicing this or that in and of itself is the ‘right’ thing - not seeing that the practices are meant to lead us to OURSELVES - that it is not ‘doing the practice’ that serves us, but what the practices enable us to do that serves us.
- We have been traumatized through the experience of having unmet needs. Through those we looked to for guidance not having answer for us/showing their fallibility. We have been taught to live in ways that hurt and harm us and others - and we ‘think’ this is normal but we FEEL terrible ding them. Meaning we feel terrible and don’t know why because our destructive ways of being are normal for us.
- We have developed coping mechanisms, neurosis, self sabotage and addictions. We believe these things to be what is ‘wrong’ with us, and we are questing to ‘fix’ these things in ourselves so as to become happy and good. We get caught in loops of believing if we can just ‘stop’ our behaviour, that we will be happy - as though it is the behaviour that is causing us pain, rather than seeing that it is the pain we are in that is causing the behaviour.
We THINK we want to fix ourselves, we THINK we want to ‘get rid of’ our pain. We THINK we want to ‘become’ some idealized person who is solid, stable, void of emotional turmoil and fully loving. One who is whatever we have idealized as the ‘perfect’ human.
The truth is, that which is going to bring us out of pain, is accepting who and what we are in this moment, and then through that loving acceptance we are going to express. Through that expression, we are going to find that we can grow. Evolve. Expand. We will find that our current way of being isn’t wrong or bad - and the pain we are in isn’t due to us being fundamentally helpless, fundamentally incapable of helping ourselves, fundamentally unworthy or because we are not being loved and accepted by others enough.
The pain we are in is simply the pain of stagnated growth. Of not seeing where we need to evolve ourselves so as to be more in alignment with truth. Of not seeing where we are too complex for the environment we are in, our needs are too big for the box of life we are trying to occupy, our desires are too large for our current levels of awareness, and the degree to which we are capable of aligning with ULTIMATE truth is much more complex than how we are currently living.
Thus, the first and most important revelation on any TRUE awakening path is that we are fundamentally worthy of LOVE and ACCEPTANCE no matter what. That we can choose to live a life of chaos, destruction, and ‘death’ - and that in this we are still fully lovable. That we don’t have to earn our worthiness. That ultimately speaking, our destroying ourselves is OK in the grand scheme of things, because life will learn from that. There is no mistake. There is no ‘screwing life up’ - because even in death there is new awareness, and that is life generation.
Death is not the OPPOSITE of life. It’s a PART of life if we CHOOSE to go that route.
Anything that isn’t growing, learning, changing and evolving is essentially dying - but that death is not a ‘real’ death. It’s simply a transfer of energy from one form that proved itself to be out of alignment with the structure - thus teaching consciousness as a whole a new thing about what it isn’t, about how it DOESN’T work - into a new form that will then take another crack at being IN alignment with reality. That is why spiritual people say ‘death is an illusion’ - what they mean is, the energy that was animating a certain form stops animating that form, because the form was no longer in a state of evolution and growth, thus was no longer revealing more to consciousness about itself, and was not in the process of expanding consciousness through building upon the structure that exists. In this there is a new awareness of what ‘isn’t’ - and then that energy is transferred to a new form, holding that information that was gained in the death cycle, to be repeated or evolved past.
We get to choose whether or not we are going to expand and evolve through listening to our pain and choosing to GROW because of it, choosing to see where we have been taught that life works one way when in fact it works in another, where we are limiting ourselves and our expression and thus stifling the ONE portion of LIFE we have control over, whether we are going to accept who and what we are, embrace the unknown and challenge ourselves to become more complex - or if we are going to squabble over ‘which side’ is right and wrong, if we are going to believe that if we don’t know something that it doesn’t exist, that consensus has things right so if we are in pain that means WE are broken and need to be fixed rather than seeing that it is actually society that is not meeting our needs and it is therefore our job to evolve ourselves past society.
We get to decide if we are going to learn through death, or learn through growth.
Everything We Desire, Comes Through The Process Of Self Acceptance:
We must allow ourselves to slow down and realize that everything we want comes from self acceptance. Self acceptance is at once a choice we make in a moment, and a process we choose to engage in for the rest of our lives. There is the choice that we will chose to accept who and what we are, and that choice then being the foundations for how you approach yourself, your pain, your struggles, your fears and your desires for the rest of your time in this body. All the growth, all the expansion, all the answers, all the things we are searching for - are going to be found as a result of learning more about ourselves, and expressing ourselves. That so long as we are basing our happiness on what others think of us, on how in alignment with consensus reality we are, on how much we are ‘helping’ others feel good and comfortable, on how much we fit in, how much we are in alignment with what we ‘think’ is the ‘right’ way to be even if it is painful to us - we suffer. We will remain forever lost.
If we use our practices to get away from ourselves, or in an attempt to fix ourselves, we are on a never ending loop of suffering.
It can be no other way.
If your practices are not giving you new awareness of yourself and why you are doing what you are doing, and if they are not allowing you to become strong enough to BE YOU even though you have been rejected, shamed and blamed for being that way, even though you WILL BE rejected, shamed and blamed - then they are not serving their purpose.
There is no purpose in becoming a good meditator. An adept yogi. A cleansed person. A strong fighter. A well read philosopher. All of these things in and of themselves mean nothing.
If they are not allowing you to live your life more fully, they are useless. They are a distraction. They are just as effective as sitting on the couch watching hours of television.
Because in essence, they won’t be making you happier. They won’t be making you more fulfilled. They won’t be making you more satisfied - because happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment come from living YOUR life - evolving who and what YOU are, so as to serve the evolution of all that is.
THIS is what brings true joy.
The Roots Of True Joy:
Yes, on the path there will be struggles. There will be challenges. There will be doubt, existential fear, crisis and all the rest. Living our truest lives doesn’t mean feeling blissed out 24/7. Rather living our fullest lives means that when we tune into our cores, when we get quiet, when we can acknowledge all the surface emotions and sensations we are feeling as a result of the current phase of the path we are walking, we will find a core of peace. A core of rightness. A core of KNOWING that what we are doing is the RIGHT THING.
Not necessarily the most painless thing. Sometimes the ‘right’ thing is the ‘wrong’ thing ultimately - meaning sometimes we do have to break ourselves against reality to discover something about reality we NEED to know in order to grow. We are all going to face times where a ‘death cycle’ - where we are learning about what is through experiencing what isn’t - is pertinent. As long as we are capable of actually learning from these experiences, taking that information and turning it INTO life - that death cycle can be a PART of our journey, not an end to this form.
When we are on the path of growth, no matter how chaotic it may appear at the time, there will be a deep sense of knowing that we are on a GROWTH path. That is our emotional guidance system letting us know that we are living in alignment with life overarchingly.
What you want to discover, you will discover on the journey of becoming and expressing yourself. What you want to know, you will learn on your path.
If you really want to know how BEST to serve the world - figure out how best to serve yourself. Because you and the world are ONE. This means that when you are TRULY living a life of alignment and growth, you are taking control of the ONE aspect of all of reality you have control over - yourself. You are aligning the one piece of reality you have the power to align.
You can’t align anyone else. You can’t derail anyone else. We each have free will, and no one can MAKE anyone THINK or FEEL anything - the true roots of core expression and life generation. Thus, as we align ourselves, we are doing our greatest service to the whole. You will find that as you discover more about yourself, you will NATURALLY be drawn to living in a way that creates harmony with all of TRUE life - meaning you may start to be disruptive to the unhealthy patterns of living that those around you have habituated - and in this you will actually be serving life as a whole. As you check out of disruptive ways of living, you create one less person living in disruption. As you live in alignment, others may reject you, but LIFE will accept you. You will make it ‘easier’ for others to choose to do the same - but this isn’t your task. Your task is to take full responsibility for yourself, and in so doing you will find that simply by doing what is RIGHT for you, you are doing what is RIGHT for everyone.
What is right for you won’t always be comfortable. It won’t always be socially acceptable. It won’t always be easy. It won’t always be harmonious with people. But it will ALWAYS be leading you to greater harmony with LIFE.
This is your task.
Use your practices to discover yourself, over and over, then express that. THIS is the point.
Your individuality IS the expansion of ALL that is. Your spiritual practices are there to fortify you and awaken you to that which needs expressing within you, and to give you the strength to pursue that expression no matter the social consequences.
Choose to practice so that you can discover more of you. Then go out and be and do that. Run the company. Be a mother. Bake. Sew. Pain. Cry. Dance. Have tough conversations. Move. Don’t move. Engage in self sabotage with a loving curiosity. Allow the pain in your heart to come out. Disrupt patterns. Create new habits. Let it all be a part of living your purpose.
This is living in alignment. This is the ‘point’ of being a self. This is the ‘point’ of spiritual practices.
Go on and do you. It’s your greatest gift to all of us.
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