Tag Archives: spiritual maturity

Candle-3There are many of us speaking about being or about following a trend or discipline that claims to be spiritual. But, really, what is being spiritual? Is it real? Is it tangible? Is it something we can teach? Learn? Pass on to others? With so many people claiming or professing it, and in coming from so many different walks of life and disciplines, how can we really have a clear understanding of what it truly is? Or is it something that is strictly personal, innate and pertains to only that which comes from within? There seems to be no clear cut definition. Spirituality seems to be our assumed road to what we perceive as a method toward the resolution of a deeply unconscious urge for fulfillment of something that feels absent and is almost indescribable. Let’s look at some of the more commonly assumed versions and characteristics of it so you can have clarity in determining what it is for yourself.

First, I would suggest that most of us would essentially agree that spirituality is mostly an intangible idea, although, many of its applications, if we can call them as such, are tangible in nature. Their effects are assumed to encourage adjustments to our behavior for specific results in the way that we live our lives in the tangible world. But that sense of intangibility comes from a source deeper and mostly undefined within us, especially, since most of our attention goes toward more clearly defined surface issues like our survival and what we exchange with others. But once those surface issues have been sufficiently handled, there surfaces a gnawing feeling within us that says it just isn’t enough. Something still remains unanswered and unfulfilled. It’s then that we start looking toward the less tangible currents that feed our feeling, that is, if we’re mature enough to accept what we’re feeling. Those of us who are not end up pursuing a more intense versions of the same physical stimulus just to break the perceived barrier between us and our idea of ecstasy, thereby, keeping its access within our perceived control.

Director-2There are those of us who interpret spirituality as relating to an imagined deity who is assumed to have initiated and administers the physical world we find ourselves living in. In that belief there is an underlying and unconscious assumption that our existence and movements are all observed and controlled by this deity making them eminently more accountable than we for our existence and actions. Believing in this deity, essentially, eliminates our need for looking any further for understandings and insights about the reason for our “being here” let alone being responsible for our existence. The emptiness or unanswered urges are just accepted by us as being unknown to us and only known to that deity and under the charge and wisdom we’ve assigned to them.

I believe that for the rest of us this unanswered and unfulfilled part of us acts as the driving force to find that something that we feel is missing.  The different methods that we use to pursue fulfillment to that end we often make and then call a spiritual tradition. It can appear in the form of religion, extreme sensory oriented stimulation or an intangible and practicable discipline either devoid of or with a creator and administrator at the peak of our intended accomplishments within the discipline.

The urge to connect with a creator or deity through religious disciplines is not the only version of our seeking the fulfillment from outside of ourselves by virtue on another entity. I believe that the subconscious urge we feel can also come from a source we can call a belief in ancient aliens seeding our planet. A general version of the story goes like this. Millions of years ago aliens came to this planet in search of the commodities that supported their way of life including the mining of minerals. We as an ignorant and more immature species were transported with them as workers to perform the physical labor. When the acquisition of what they needed was completed, their cargo would be substituted for us leaving us to dwell here on Alien DNAthe planet after they left. It is said that we also were used for DNA experiments leading to producing different variations of our life form. Those who believe this have even gone so far as to state that Noah’s ark was actually a DNA bank constructed so they may collect their successful experiments and wipe the face of the earth of their completed or no longer viable experiment (us) with a flood so they might start over. A few of us still survived implanted with a deep racial memory of wishing to return to our home. It is believed that our unconscious urge for the unanswered fulfillment within us is that wish and that the tendency to believe in an external deity is an extension of worshipping those who brought us here. Since there was more than one alien, this may also account for cultures who support a belief in multiple gods. The urge to go home can also be viewed as our wish to return to what we now interpret as the Garden of Eden.

Our culture has gotten so over involved in our mental functioning and so far away from acknowledging and following our inner feelings that our quest for fulfilling this almost indescribable urge has been becoming harder and harder to express, recognize and “put our finger on” let alone find terms that can bring us a clear explanation of what it is that we’re actually dealing with. The urge is simple. But we’ve made working it into an understandable goal damn near impossible through relating to it almost exclusively in a mental format.

Many of these examples of addressing this inner urge have produce a vehemence, an intensity and almost a feeling of desperation in our beliefs and dedication in light of the fact that very few of us can actually conceive of any other means of answering the “void” of what we feel let Sysiphus-1alone comprehend the simplicity of what we seek. What is so ironic is that the more we focus on what it is that we don’t have (fulfillment), the more of the same the universe gives us through the Law of Attraction by virtue of what we’re focusing on. It’s like the harder and further we chase it, the faster and further it moves away. When we relax and don’t focusing on our striving, the more we emulate the earth in producing gravity that attracts toward us whatever it is that needs to be “filled in.”

All the above reasons for feeling and even understanding how to handle the void seem clear and easy enough to comprehend its dynamics. But then our psychological makeup throws us a curve ball. Now relationships enter the picture and the growing expectation that all of our voids, “missing halves” and parts will be filled and answered by the presence and actions of the other person. At this point we stop looking for answers and assume the relationship will be the answer to our prayers. The amount and degree of underlying expectations and assumptions we then make are staggering. We allow ourselves to be swept away by the belief that we will be fulfilled on all levels by the other person.

I believe that this decision is made as a result of and in the wake of our early training and fostered expectation that the world will not only dictate where our efforts should be applied for our happiness but that our desired results will also come from outside ourselves. This leaves us wide open to ignoring the fact that our own happiness is of our own doing and our own responsibility. The simple fact is that the universe answers us based on where we put our attention and our energy. So, now with our putting our energy and attention into another person, we again ignore our inner urgings in favor of our childhood trained need to belong and Blaming-1be fulfilled by the world…a promise issued by the world and our parents but impossible to be fulfilled. As we progress with our expectations, our partner is not able to fulfill our imagined and desired expectations for their behavior, let alone, have knowledge of them. In our childish state of being unaccountable, we blame our partner for our lack of happiness and fulfillment and once again slowly become aware of the pain of the rising void within us. If we are on the threshold of emotional maturity, we begin to make the connection between our accountability and our own happiness. If not, we fixate on another partner expecting the same impossible fulfillment.

If we wish to, we can view our entrainment by the world and our parents into expecting the world to answer our desires and urges as a disservice. But they are only following the natural flow of the physical world, that is, they are not only in the world but also of it. They’re doing what they we trained to do and believe also. However, if it is true that we are only in this world by virtue of our own desire to experience what it has to offer, wouldn’t it make sense to expose us to circumstances that would challenge the ease of where we resided before we came here? Wouldn’t that challenge give us something to contrast so we would know the direction to follow in order to fulfill that desired goal of having the experience? If we actually chose to come here, would religion and spirituality be aligned with that intention by fostering a need to escape back to where we came from? Is escaping back to the “Garden of Eden” in alignment with that Master Po & Kwai Changintention? I think not. I believe that our choice to come here for the experience is our original intention. I also believe that the void is also within us simply to give us a reminder of who we are and a place to return to in order to revitalize our intention. Our recurring awareness of the void within our spirituality is simply our way of reminding ourselves about what it is that we came here to do.

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Dark night of the soul-2There comes a time in all of our lives when the realization that what we’ve been programmed with about how the world works and what is expected of us comes face to face with our inner need to be authentic and true to ourselves. This can occur at almost any time in our lives when we begin to become accountable for our own lives and circumstances but its confrontation is, essentially, unavoidable once we reach midlife between the ages of thirty-eight through forty-four. Probably why so many adults make light of it can only be testimony to our need for relief when it arrives so voraciously on our doorstep. This confrontation challenges our beliefs and values about our reality and can often be a very frightening and incapacitating feeling. It often leaves many of us either panicked or frustrated knowing that something must be done but that our action, if truly aligned with our inner felt needs, might completely obliterate the security we have thus far built in this world as a result of our childhood and continued training. Yet, to step into a brighter light and consciousness it is necessary and unavoidable.

Parents are godsIn our younger years there is usually no one else other than our parents who are our keepers and educators. Perceiving this, their presence and omniscience within our tiny world easily encourages us to view them as gods with having all our needs and answers quickly at hand. But as adults we must, at some point, come to realize that those in child bearing years have not yet reached this midlife marker either in their temporal journey here and that in that they too have not yet experienced the crisis that, hopefully, eventually leads to their spiritual freedom in discovering and following their own path often in contradiction to what is expected of them by their unsuspecting families. This separation in timing has the effect of insuring that their journey, and ours, is wholly an independent and personal one. The most important understanding that must be realized here is that each person’s journey is individual and unique and cannot be shown or instructed by anyone else. It must be listened to and felt. For those of us who have allowed ourselves to be led, this is panic inducing. For those of us who have acted independently but pushed the river toward what we thought was the goal based on our early training, it is sublimely frustrating. Both paths ultimately lead initially to depression and a stark withdrawal into the psychological and emotional interior of our being. For those of us who have felt ahead the arrival of this time, the journey may only take a year. For those of us well ingrained in our instructed set of parental values, it may take many more. And then there are others who never ascend above the threshold of consciousness and remain trapped beneath the surface through our own fear, pride, resistance and stubbornness. The journey and its goal are not guaranteed; only our opportunity to do so.

Odd man outWe humans, by nature, are innately social. Following our early training guarantees our inclusion and acceptance by our clan and culture and is encouraged through conformity toward historical traditions and the sublimation of our own needs for the good of the group. Our adherence to the needs of the group is subliminally maintained through emotional blackmail with the inference that if we don’t acquiesce toward a preferred behavior the support and acceptance by the group and our inclusion in the benefits enjoyed by them will be withheld. Fear of banishment powers a collusion that encourages us to refrain from exposing each other’s perceived inadequacies thereby remaining in each other’s graces and forestalling a need to grow beyond our immediate emotional limitations. This can be seen the most clearly when we examine the psychology of individual family structures.

There are three effects that occur when we begin to detach from childhood patterns and assert our individuality through deference to our inner urges and intuition. First, when we embark on the path of attempting to be authentic to our own natures, our efforts almost always conflict with the emotional security needs of our family and our clan. We are no longer comfortable maintaining the status quo with family tradition and our parents which has initially protected us during our vulnerable years but in later years has come to have the effect of stagnating our sheep-roadblockindividual growth and consciousness. The removal of these blockages to our growth is perceived by our family as exposing hidden perceived inadequacies implanted in them through their early childhood training. When those in our family and clan feel our withdrawal from our blanket validation of their preferred behaviors from us in favor of our own growth, their reaction is often swift and dynamic. They then re-emphasize that fact that their support and acceptance of us is only maintained through our acquiescing to the covering of their insecurities and emotionally ingrained compensations. If stepping up the pressure is of no avail, the next step is a self-defensive excommunication of us and our relegation to the status of “black sheep” of the family.

The second effect occurs in a broader frame of reference. There is a very subtle and unspoken belief in this country that our actions should be geared toward providing support and assistance to those “lees fortunate” than we prior toward taking care of our own needs lest we be labeled as being selfish or lacking compassion. This attitude is even reflected in our country Statue of Libertymascot, the Statue of Liberty, asserting that the acceptance of those “less fortunate” in the world and immigrating here would be taken care of. This perspective came as a result of the original settlers of this country actually needing the combined efforts of everyone simply to survive. This “good of the many” perspective very quickly became integrated with their basic religious beliefs and is now often referred to as part of the Christian ethic. In spite of its religious association, this perspective has become a very quiet and subliminal programming which also lies at or just below the threshold of our secular cultural waking consciousness. This perspective has morphed into the basic assumption that if we direct our efforts toward the welfare of others, ahead of our own of course, that the hope pertaining to our own needs would be answered by someone else doing the same thing for us. This unconscious assumption has proven to be disastrous to our ability to muster motivation toward taking care of our own issues and forming personal goals let alone being accountable for our own choices. In an extreme, this has been viewed by the rest of the world as our having an attitude of entitlement. This undercurrent asserting the belief and expectation that we should be or will be taken care by others of severely undermines the accountability we need to move easily through our mid-life crises and augments the emotional effects of our perceived helplessness generated by the arrival of our Dark Night of the Soul.

StrandedThe third of these effects comes as we begin to address our own needs ahead of those of others, we not only lose the inclusion and support of our family and clan but that of our nation and peer group as well. With these three effects in play we feel completely alone and unsupported by our historical traditions and roots. But that only serves to intensify the urgency and the necessity for us to become accountable that we may be willing and able to listen to our inner urges and leanings free of the coercive and addictive effects of having or gaining a feeling of belonging. Our Dark Night of the Soul must be passed through alone that we may come to rely and trust our own judgment and intuition in lieu of depending on an outside source such as tradition or religion to dictate our objectives thereby also assuming responsibility for our choices.

carrying-weight-worldProbably one of the most difficult and daunting parts of aligning ourselves with our own inner and intuitive urges is the overwhelming feeling of loneliness we encounter when we lose the support and acceptance of those who were involved in our indoctrination into the traditional and religious currents of altruism. Friends and associates who can no longer depend on our blanket support for their emotionally generated security needs shy away from us claiming that we’re no longer the same old comrade who supported them “right or wrong.” Marriages slowly drift apart and often disintegrate as one partner grows and the other doesn’t. Our growth also alienates us from our families claiming that we’re ruining or breaking up the family or that we have no tolerance or respect for tradition and the way things have always been done. Becoming spiritually mature can be a very lonely and frightening avenue of travel.

However, on the other side of the tunnel we slowly garner new friends and associates who understand the trials we’re progressing through. This feels to us as a relief to our isolation but we must be aware that there are also dangers in the practice of commiseration over the loses of our familial and peer group support. We must guard against seeing those who rejected us as disloyal and subjects for our disdain. This perspective will also serve to sabotage the much needed attitude toward our reliance on Self-Trust by virtue of our own accountability. We must not fall into blaming our loneliness and lack of support on those who feel threatened by our journey toward spiritual self-hood. Passing through the Dark Night of the Soul is our own journey and no one else must be held accountable but ourselves.

Phoenix-1The feelings that dawn within us with our passage through this dark corridor eventually gives us so much independence and freedom from emotional enmeshment that our paths obtain a speed, a purity and new light unlike that which we have ever experienced before. With it comes an understanding and compassion for those of us who are still in process of passing through and those who have yet to do so. It also brings an unavoidable sadness in us over those of whom we have lost. Yet, we harbor a hope that they too will be able to traverse the course shedding the codependences and collusions that keep them from peeling away the layers of their trained and subsequently perceived inadequacies covering the pillars of their spiritual ignorance. Perhaps this is what Jesus actually meant when he spoke of “putting away childish things.”