Monday, June 19, 2017

Aligning Right and Wrong to the Spiritual Path

butterflies, yellow flowers, high desert, right or wrong, spiritual path, spiritual awakening
The concept of there being a duality of right and wrong has caused people much frustration, confusion, and pain. Many of you have seen how people use this concept to elevate themselves as doing the "right" things and to condemn others for doing the "wrong" things. Some of you have seen spiritual people do that, and this right-and-wrong thinking is often used as means of control that can even lead to violence and wars.

Clearly this thinking is problematic to say the least.

But it is also problematic for people to jump to the conclusion that there is no right or wrong. While ultimately that is true from the space of oneness, there are such things as accuracy and utility. Accuracy can include being "right" about how to create a car that doesn't blow up when you turn it on. "Wrong" would be constructing the car so that it blows up and hurts you. Utility has to do with effectively engaging with the realities of human life.

Mature spiritual people come to understand that there are useful "right and wrong" beliefs. The basis of those beliefs moves towards how we view suffering. So we start to think in terms such as: Does something bring more suffering (wrong) into the world? Or does an action alleviate suffering (right)? Obviously, this is not necessarily a cut and dry sort of situation, but it gives you an idea of how right-and-wrong thinking transforms into something useful as you mature on the spiritual path.


Returning to the Source

At the outset of the spiritual path, concepts like right and wrong are really problematic. They are framed and guided by a lot of unconscious beliefs and other issues, and because of that, they function based off of those deeper issues. For instance, someone may believe that it is "wrong" to voice their opinion. They may believe that it is "right" to do whatever the crowd or leader believes they should do. In this example, the deeper unconscious motives are often around feeling safe--most of our deeper motives are based off a search for safety in general. But this isn't a functional use of right and wrong thinking. Instead, this understanding traps the person in a subservient role as a disempowered follower, and that can get the person into all kinds of trouble.

The person who is always shouting their opinions and telling everyone else what to do when they haven't done a lick of inner work is just as problematic. This often happens with some of the newly awakened. They get a quarter taste of clarity and presume they have the whole of it. They also are unlikely to have done any serious inner work to understand why they cling to their beliefs. And so they too get caught up telling people what "spiritual truth" (what is right) is from a different angle.

The Error of Defending Your Beliefs

All in all, you won't really understand right and wrong and how to consciously apply it until you truly go inwards. The more you return to the presence within you and re-connect to Source, the more false beliefs fall away and deeper issues arise. As you work through those issues, you start to see all the right and wrong situations that are irrelevant (like what you should wear for a dinner gathering tonight) and begin to see where this thinking has merit.

Avoiding Intellectual Ego Extremes

Because of the nature of the intellectual ego, one thing to avoid is extremes. I touched on the topic that in the space of oneness there is no right or wrong. This is true. Ideas don't exist outside of our heads. Try to point to the existence of an "idea," and you won't be able to do it. You can point to how people have created things based on ideas, but that is still not an "idea" itself. Specifically, ideas of right and wrong don't exist, although human beings certainly cause themselves and others a lot of upset acting as if they do exist.

Additionally, the more you melt into that spaciousness, you don't really think in those terms. Instead, you come to greater and greater peace with all of life as it is.

Melting Into Silence

From that peace and inner silence, it also becomes clearer what causes suffering and what alleviates suffering. There is something about resting in the divine presence that calls us to alleviate this suffering. It seems somehow natural. You see this example of service repeatedly from lots of great spiritual people like the Buddha, Jesus, Mother Teresa, and many others. I think they knew as many of you know that people enjoy life more when we help each other and work to alleviate suffering. From this clarity, you can see how the concept of right and wrong transforms into the an understanding of what causes or alleviates suffering, and from that clarity, action to alleviate suffering seems to be the natural response.

Spiritual Guidance for the Masses

In general, people need a certain level of guidance, and that's why most religions list out things to do and to not do. Most people aren't like you. Most of the people who read my blog want to do inner work and understand the truth. But my experiences with greater swathes of humanity is that they just want to be told what the right thing to do is. So religions and other spiritual paths provide that, and that offers a certain level of social order to help people live their lives. This use of right-and-wrong has its uses. If someone doesn't want to understand how we are all interconnected, then spiritual paths give them the short version. They say, "Be kind. Tell the truth. Don't kill each other." And so that becomes part of the list of right and wrong things that people need to follow.

We Are All One: The Law of Interconnection

When things get out of control, those paths become about forcing people to unquestioningly believe the list of right and wrong. This is problematic for a lot of reasons, but also because a lot of beliefs get added into religious texts as they evolve over time or just get repeated over and over again with no basis in the actual texts. So a lot of religions end up becoming more and more about blind faith rather than engaged understanding. I think many of you see this. That's probably why some of you who have had bad experiences with certain spiritual paths may want to jump to extremes like saying, "there is no right and wrong." But this isn't a useful way to engage with life. If you truly understand oneness, then you will be able to see how right-and-wrong thinking can be useful.

So neither blindly believing in a list of rights and wrongs nor not believing in right-and-wrong is ultimately that useful to living a human life. Instead, seek the middle ground of integrated understanding.

Alleviating the Suffering You See

As you open further to yourself and to the divine, it becomes more and more obvious how much suffering is going on all the time. I don't mean the big stuff--the bombings you see on the news or the mass murderer running around with a gun. I mean the suffering of self-hatred you see in the eyes of the girl walking by you on the way to the subway. I mean the beaten-down demeanor of the man standing in front of the bar. I mean the homeless person on the street and the over-stressed CEO boarding his hundredth flight. The amount of suffering going on in the world is vast.

Facing the Abyss of Self-Hatred

But so to is our ability to alleviate the suffering.

From this space of clear sight, we see these things, and we learn to be at peace with them. But it just seems that the most common natural arising is to help. There seems to be this natural empathy within us that makes us want to reach out and find a way to offer kindness. In this way, you don't think that this is the "right" thing to do. Instead, it seems to be more like the natural thing to do, and that naturalness is one of the ways right-and-wrong align to the spiritual path. While the ego wants to know what to do to avoid the wrong thing and do the right thing, the intuitive divine self already seems to know this. When we listen, we seem to flow to certain actions, and we don't really need to think about if it is right or wrong.

True Right and Wrong Isn't About Belief

Again and again, I have to point to the uselessness of most beliefs. Beliefs without grounding in truth are errant leaves blowing in the wind. They will drive you crazy because of how the winds of life are always shifting and changing those beliefs. But when a belief grows out of truth, it becomes much more grounded and flexible. The combination is quite powerful, and it is necessary. And that flexibility is vital because life is always presenting you with different situations.

Letting Go of Beliefs

Consider an example of a homeless woman. You see this woman sitting by the street with her sign asking for money. What do you do?

When people are stuck in their beliefs, they have no flexibility.

One person just believes the woman will spend the money on booze, and he passes her by.

Another person believes she has to give money to be a good person and help this woman, and so she gives her something from her pocket.

Neither really knows the woman nor her situation. Neither is listening to their inner knowing.

There are many paths that people walk on this Earth, and homelessness and poverty is one of them. Some people will take the money and spend it on booze and drugs. Others will use it to eat. Others need a certain level of desperation to inspire them to seek help, and if we help too soon, they won't make the change. Others desperately need the help of a few extra dollars to have the strength to make the changes they are trying to make.

Life does not give us clear cut answers, which is why a rigid conceptualization of right-and-wrong is so useless to us. True right-and-wrong must come from the divine within us to consciously engage with life. In so doing, we can naturally navigate these and many other moments with grace and compassion.

The Importance of Accuracy

As part of the discussion of right and wrong, I want to make sure that we peel away accuracy from right and wrong. Like I mentioned earlier, if a car doesn't function correctly, that's "wrong." It's not been accurately constructed. If someone gives us the wrong directions, that's not accurate. That could put us in a deserted town instead of getting us to our desired destination. If the surgeon performs the surgery wrong, that could cause serious damage to the patient.

Clearly, there is a need for accuracy of human life.

However, the more you understand yourself and the truth, the easier it is to distinguish this kind of accuracy from other beliefs around right-and-wrong. In this way, we separate the wheat from the chaff; we take what is useful and let go of what is not useful. This methodology of peeling away illusion from reality happens with a lot of ideas and human traits as you develop further on the spiritual path. As you understand more, it's really not hard to see where you are discussing a need for accuracy and where you are talking about a belief that you just want to defend because it is part of your ego self.

Clarity Grows Concerning Suffering and Helping

The more you sit in the space of oneness, the more you understand duality. It's a beautiful aspect of the spiritual path. The less you are interested in dualities like right-and-wrong, the more you understand how and when they are useful. That helps you to grow your understanding of suffering and how and when to alleviate it.

Too often people give up on things like right and wrong because they have only seen abuse of that kind of thinking. That's like giving up on a hammer because you hit your thumb with it once. Instead, think of this kind of conceptualization as just another tool in your toolkit. The more you understand the spiritual truth of oneness, the more you will understand how to use this tool as well as many others. The more you use the tool correctly, the better you'll get at wielding it. Thus, right-and-wrong thinking melds in union with a greater understanding of life, and you become a more peaceful, connected person who knows how to alleviate suffering in a world that is greatly lost in illusion.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...