Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spiritual Idealism

A funny thing can happen as someone walks along their spiritual path. Initially--and especially after awakening--everything is very fluid and indefinite. And while spirituality isn't necessarily a vague, amorphous thing, this space of openness allows a lot of the fullness of spirituality to live within you. But as people go, a new ego gets born (or rather the old one tries to make a comeback wearing new clothes), and spirituality starts to get codified and structured. This is spiritual, and this is not spiritual. Certainly, some structure is good--it helps to hone and focus things in our lives. And that allows us to fully embody whomever we want to be in this life. But too much re-creation of a comprehensive belief structure shuts things out, and along with that, a new kind of idealism can get born--spiritual idealism.

A blog post to read after this one about beliefs is this one:

A Spiritual Belief System Vacuum and Filling the Void 

Spiritual Idealism: Trying to Live Back in Unreality
Idealism at it's core is a mental construct. It's the mind saying this is the perfect, ideal, or preferred way of thinking, having something happen, or being. Spiritual idealism is saying that this is the perfect way to live a spiritual life or to think about spirituality and so on. It most certainly doesn't exist in our perfectly imperfect world, and pretty soon, it can become a real problem in regards to how we're living. We may think that the world is out of alignment with spiritual truth (and in oh so many ways, this is true), but when we get lost to this new kind of idealism, really it's us who's fallen out of alignment.

One example is someone who dumps a relationship to follow the spiritual path. Somewhere in this, I think there's this idealism to get away from any messy and imperfect relationships as well as the idea that perfection can somewhere be found out on the spiritual path by walking alone. For some people, it's fine to walk a solitary path, but that has nothing to do with being spiritual. That's choice. For many others, the greatest lessons you'll ever learn about yourself will come within close relationships because that's where a lot of your best and worst traits will get mirrored back to you. It's actually a profoundly spiritual place to work and grow and be if you put the intention there.


Spirituality: Beyond Concepts and Words
Ultimately, spirituality is beyond any words or concepts that anyone can ever put on the page. That's why some spiritual traditions will say things like "If someone can describe enlightenment to you, that is not enlightenment." Of course not. Enlightenment is more than mental constructions. It is the totality of being, and how can any number of words fully describe the visceral feeling of it, the expansiveness of the mind, the openness of the heart? Spirituality is all the words and beliefs that describe it and more. It is the box that it gets put into, and it's everything else. Many times, spiritual idealism walks back in as we try to set up new controls in our life to dictate the experiences that we want. We're trying to insulate ourselves from life and feel good. Who doesn't want to feel good all the time?

But that's not life or spirituality. That's a remaining desire to feel a certain way, and the more of it that any of us have, the more resistance we build up against life and what is occurring in the present moment. The more resistance we build back up, the more miserable we get, and we drift back into the unreality of the ego-mind.

Letting Go of the Spiritual Path to Re-Find the Path
As many of you have read over the last several months, I've got a lot of words. I have a lot of ways to express spirituality, but they're not "spiritual" words. They point to something. They're just pointing towards a deeper, more pervasive reality. And yet, they are spiritual as well. These words are just as spiritual as everything else in our lives, but we can't get caught up in the structures that take us from point A to point B. Some of you may have already found that some meditation practices, tantric arts, or whatever helped you to move and open in a certain way. And then they stopped working. That path is no longer necessary. It got you where you needed to go. So too with words. A few words here and a few words there go a long way. But while an idea or thought perhaps helped you at one juncture on your path, it may have only worked then and may now be completed for you.

Many spiritual seekers get stuck in a particular practice trying to achieve a former feeling. This is similar to yesterday's post about addictive qualities of spirituality. They keep doing something over and over thinking that it should do something and elicit the former experience. Anywhere you see the word "should," you can be sure that there's an idea or ideal hiding behind it that very rarely has much to do with reality.

Spirituality Isn't Brainless, Just Fluid
Please don't think that you're supposed to dump out all ideas from your head. Ideas are helpful when they're held lightly. Spiritual ideals can help you to aspire to something, but they aren't real. Ideals never are. If you can use them as tool to help you connect with you, then that's okay for a temporary solution. But they won't apply to all of life. How could they? Just because you've felt that deep connection to all of life once, doesn't mean that you'll feel it in the same way and in the same situations again. You might. I can't put a definitive statement around that. That's the point. Spirituality is fluid. It's not fluid in the everything-is-subjective way, but then, you're going to have walk down this path to fully understand what that means. Because this isn't a mental game. I'm not trying to help you understand an idea or set of ideas so much as to encourage you to let go of all the ideas and ideals about what spirituality is. Because only when you let go of those constructs can what spirituality really is come into your life.

I am always amazed in talking to people by all the different ideas about what spirituality is that are out there. It's pretty diverse, but oftentimes, what strikes me more is how those concepts are standing right in the way of the person connecting with it. It's ideas like:

"I have to meditate for a lot of years to be enlightened."
"I don't know how to listen to God or my spirit guides."
"No one else sees the world the way I do, so I must be crazy."

All these things are standing in the way of your spiritual awareness, connecting to God, and accepting your connection. As I say to most people who are awakening and are filled with love that no one else seems able to comprehend, you're not crazy. You're awake in a sleeping world. Being filled with love is the most sane thing that can ever happen to anyone. It's not an ideal. It's a statement of being. And that's where spirituality always can be found.

Special thanks to Arran Edmonstone for today's picture. You can see more of his photography on this Flickr link.
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