There’s a massive movement of Spiritual interests from different kinds of techniques to thought patterns to life-choices, going on. There is no longer a division between religions, but a transversal interest that borrows from all spiritual beliefs and attempts to incorporate something of one or the other.
When you go on Facebook and search for something that catches your eye in this regard, you’re often met with pages and pages of content (that, truth be told, doesn’t differ all that much) and promises of riches and fullfilled wishes, what I call the modern day facebook miracle. The result of this is often a very confused spiritual identity.
What people understand as the ego, is the Sufi concept mixed with Freudian pyschology, without understanding the details of either. When people think of the Self, they borrow from ideas of Christianity and Buddhism and Jungian psychology. When people think of Spiritual Enlightenment, people think of ideas borrowed from Yogic paths and the Buddhist enlightenment. These hybrid-ideas create a big confusion in one’s head, which then leads us straight to retreats in which we partake in Yoga sessions, vegan food and a cabin in the woods with Wi-Fi. Nothing wrong with it, except it is just a way of masking the true essence of a spiritual path.
So, when you don’t understand the spiritual, taking on ideas from Rastafarianism as you pray to the Goddess Aine in dance and use Native American symbols in your jewelry will create a dissonance inside of you, a chaotic intereference of influences, of energies, of cultural structures. You are borrowing elements that you do not understand to a path I’m certain you do not really want to follow, because simply you’re avoiding the horrors you have inside, that you refuse to acknowledge in order to appear spiritual enough to be accepted by your peers who also do not understand themselves and the world around them. So spirituality becomes a way of not seeing the world through one’s own eyes, but through the belief systems of others who tell you not only what to think, but how to think, what to feel and how to feel — and control you enough so you buy their whole bibliography.
“To be strong does not mean to sprout muscles and flex. It means meeting one's own numinosity without fleeing, actively living with the wild nature in one's own way. It means to be able to learn, to be able to stand what we know. It means to stand and live.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Carl Jung said: “No one becomes enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious” - what does this mean? It means that when we actively flee from our own darkness and we actively seek to mask all this with the unconditional love badge, we do not understand either darkness or love. The work one does to become conscious of one’s self and our darknesses is hard and terrifying work and I have to tell you, very few want to do it.
So, people join communities and ashrams, and talk to gurus and go to retreats, we actively as a collective follow another in order to make it seem like we are pursuing something, something at all, in order to have this spiritual reward — the carrot in front of the stick we so desperately run towards. People voluntarily give up their own identities in promises of superpowers and miracles.
In a culture where Facebook likes are more valuable than the truth, where dissiminating disinformation is more valuable than the truth, when manipulation and appropriation is more valuable than common courtesy and respect, it is absolutely normal that the modern day spiritual person is going to be duped in one way or another. We want to believe the best in others and sometimes things they say make sense, despite we not being completely sure of it. And then subscribe to it because deep down we have given up on ourselves, we have fought too hard, for too long and it seems like a losing battle.
My favorite Buddhist Sutta is the following:
Kalama Sutta simply states that you should not believe anything that does not resonate with your moral and reasonable assertion. That takes more time to think about things than the average 2 second span between Facebook posts, or the average 0.3 seconds between instagram images and the double tap to make sure you say you agree with what was said.
The hard work of decolonizing these ideas from our minds, of burning the tapes from childhood that constantly tell us we’re not good enough, not smart enough, in need of being graded and evaluated for what we contribute, when in fact it’s pretty simple: if you do yoga, please understand the yogic path. If you practice mindfulness, please understand (at least) what it means to be mindful. And if you believe in Jesus, spread love instead of hate. If you want to worship the Goddess, do not use her names in vain, vanity and greed, but contribute to a more wholesome, free and kind society. If you want to worship anything, respect it’s origin and culture and understand what it means to worship. If you want to worship yourself, make your own darkness conscious and a clear effort to heal it, in order to feel worth it of that worship.
It takes a whole lifetime to become conscious of one’s self and sometimes it never trully happens. The Buddhist concept of Samsara is exactly this idea, that we’re stuck on a “wheel” of birth and rebirth until we fulfill the self’s intention of awakening. And what is this awakening? Awakening is not calling other people sheep and actively speweing hatred on social media, is not a self-engrandizing and calling one’s self a Goddess to feel and act superior towards others around you, it’s not a way to flee from dealing with the trauma you’ve endured in life and the collective traumatic injuries in which you partake in your existence. It’s hearthbreaking guilt and sorrow for the realities of this world, is crying in front of a meal because something had to die a horrible and painful death to make your tastebuds fullfilled for about half an hour, and it’s actively looking at life with the eyes of those who see life as it is — both the delicacy of the flower, as the evilness that exists around it, and how it blooms regardless.
So, in essence, being spiritual is not only a way of being active in change and in one’s life in order to deal with the horrors we have inside and pass on to others, but also being able to change it and while doing so, becoming conscious of the insignificance one has in this world, and how one can influence the world around them regardless. Of being mindful of just how much good we give to others, how much good we help influence in the world. Being spiritual is actively choosing in every step you take, good or evil. And there is no point in choosing the lesser evil. Being spiritual is a lifelong study process of both yourself, and what influences you. And sometimes we reach a place of “Oh my god, I spent my entire life dedicating myself to something that I do not truly believe in, in order to please those around me.” And that is a hard pill to swallow.
Most people die with regrets, they end their lives full of ideas of what wasn’t done that could’ve or what was done that shouldn’t have. Most people also die with a sense of accomplishment that “At least I was alive to experience this” — and for most people this is enough. For a lot of people isn’t, though, and in this process of finding one’s own way, there is help. Guiding lights and guiding stars.
So I’ll leave you with one last quote, in order to understand why we so desperately seek spirituality in our lives and how to live at peace with it also acknowledging this reality:
“Sometimes the one who is running from the Life/Death/Life nature insists on thinking of love as a boon only. Yet love in its fullest form is a series of deaths and rebirths. We let go of one phase, one aspect of love, and enter another. Passion dies and is brought back. Pain is chased away and surfaces another time. To love means to embrace and at the same time to withstand many endings, and many many beginnings- all in the same relationship.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés