Nothing to Show for Your Spiritual Work

winter, frozen lake, snow, blue sky, rocks
There's a big old stump in the middle of your yard. You've been tripping over it for years, despite knowing that it is there. Then one day, you've finally had enough of it. You get the shovel. You get the pick axe. You get the chainsaw and every other tool you can think of.

You get to work.

Finally, you uproot the stump. You fill in the hole, and you put the tools away.

In front of you is now a clear space.

This is a way to think of spiritual inner work and letting go of attachments. We learn to see a problem and surrender to its existence. We engage with it in a meaningful way. That leads to releasing the attachments, and the spiritual tools we used go away when the attachments are gone. What's left is spaciousness.

The Ego Wants a Parade

Initially, we do celebrate being less reactive and having less suffering, but after awhile, we don't. The ego that is doing the celebrating is going away as we normalize to no longer making ourselves suffer. This leaves us with nothing.

Which is quite a jarring thing for the remaining ego. It may even try to hold onto nothingness as a kind of badge of honor. It'll say,

"There used to be a stump over there."

But few other people if anyone else in your life could see/sense it. And very few even know enough to appreciate this kind of work. Mainly, no one cares because they're still involved in their ego stories, and after awhile, neither do you.


All the Problems You Don't Have

As we let go of more ego, we cause ourselves and others less issues. There are countless problems we simply don't have, and that also gives the ego nothing to hold onto. It's difficult to grasp for people earlier on the path, but consider this:
  • People don't brag about not getting into arguments at work.
  • People don't think about all the accidents they didn't get into because they were calm.
  • People don't discuss emotional upsets they don't have with their partner, parents, or kids.
In this way, a lot of the benefits of realizing more spiritual freedom are invisible, but they are significant. We don't have the same kinds of problems that people trapped in the ego do because we simply don't create them.

Dissolving Further Into Emptiness

The path to total spiritual freedom usually means that we go through phases of releasing the ego and dissolving into the emptiness of awareness. So that also means the remaining ego comes back to whine about having nothing to show to anyone. It won't necessarily have things like:
  • the soulmate/twin flame,
  • the dream job,
  • a purpose,
  • a divine spiritual teacher/guru, or
  • a perfectly healthy body.
Some of these things are made up ideas, and the last speaks to the reality that the body is always a work in progress. Some health issues are legitimate problems that a person will have in their lifetime. Thus we see, the spiritual path gives us nothing. We will have difficulty and pain in life. The big difference is we no longer add to the difficulty with suffering.

And as we dissolve further, having nothing to show for all of our spiritual work no longer bothers us because there's no longer an ego to be bothered.



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