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Being Spiritually Advanced Isn't Always Fun

Posted July 22, 2017

elderly monk's hands

Wow, there are some bored spiritual seekers out there!

You've sought, you've found some useful concepts and practices, but now, many of you don't know where to turn.

Never have I had as much response to a blog as the one posted two weeks ago: Are You Spiritually Advanced . . . But Still Hungry? (Read it below.)

The answer is a resounding yes.

“Gee, and I thought it was just me!” one email began.

“Thank you for letting me know that I'm not alone in the desert,” wrote another.

You understood exactly the empty, restless boredom I was describing.

“What happened to that excitement, that passion I felt? Why does it all feel so ho-hum?” one minister lamented. “I'm not even sure I totally believe everything I teach from the pulpit or in my classes. It truly is a feeling of emptiness, a hunger to feel the sense of oneness I felt once upon a time . . . I know something is missing, and I neither know what it is, nor how to find it.”


Very few of you had a problem calling yourselves spiritually advanced.

Let's agree there's always room for more growth and awareness, but you know you're past the entry level. While others might have seen The Secret only recently or just discovered the concept of universal principles, you've been reading, meditating, going to workshops, hearing speakers, honing spiritual tools and gathering in community for years or decades.

And turns out, a lot of you have ended up in a spiritual wilderness.

So I asked what you thought you needed next. Those answers were not so clear.

“If I knew what I needed next, wouldn't I be busy at it? Therein lies my dilemma,” one wrote.

Another said, “I would welcome someone to inspire me through more accessible avenues such as books, online talks or TV. It might be (that) I need to do some life remodeling, deconstructing things that aren't working anymore and building something new . . . I don't know what ‘it' is, but I know that I am open to it.”

In email after email, I heard longing and frustration.

“Most nights after I've gone to bed, I find myself thinking that I'm tired of just believing,“ one woman wrote. “I want to know. To really know. Most everything we think, know, or believe is just that -- a belief. But how do we really know?”


In fairness, a number of respondents thought the answer was not so complicated.

“Truthfully? More basic reminders,” one minister wrote. “All too often, people look for advanced studies because their lives aren't working, or they are bored (anger without enthusiasm). Yet usually they have stopped the simplest of practices. They want it to be difficult and complex. It's not. Change your thinking, change your life. Practice the principles. Enjoy life.”

Another writer echoed, “I'm not bored yet and don't think I will be if I keep practicing what I have learned.”

It boils down to “just do it,” these correspondents said.

“You know what I think about when I hear that someone thinks they are advanced and at the same time they are bored? I think they are missing the point.” This came from a spiritual writer I admire.

yoga“If we think we ‘know' everything,” she said, “that might be our first clue that we need to check whether we are actually putting that ‘knowledge' into practice. What have we actually woven into our daily lives? Because if we actually practice any of it, then I don't think it's possible to be bored.”

She continued, “Too many of us read something then put it down and go about our lives. Then when the next book comes along, we say, ‘Oh, there's nothing new there. I already know all that.' But knowledge only gets us so far. It's practice that is the thing that will change our lives.”

Still others cautioned this path isn't necessarily fun.

“Yes, I would love for something to set my soul singing, yet possibly the old saying, ‘before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water...after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water' is quite appropriate for many. It seems to be so for me. The chipping away at mortal mind seems to take a long time, along with a lot of patience and persistence.

“Maybe just maybe,” this correspondent said, “we don't want to do the grunge work, the chopping wood and carrying water that this requires. We seem to be an instant gratification society. We are more enamored with the special effects than the daily work of meditation, reading, journaling.

“As for me, I will -- I feel that I must -- keep on doing the daily, unglamorous work that possibly, hopefully, will move us all forward.”


Even as many of you wrestle with finding new sources of inspiration, others recommended teachers and practices that are currently filling their needs. (I am familiar with some but not all of these. Google them if you want more info.)

  • Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping)
  • with Gary Craig
  • Karol Truman's Script
  • Psych K
  • Books by New Thought author Florence Scovel Shinn (The Game of Life and How to Play It and others)
  • Books by Catholic priest Richard Rohr
  • David McArthur and HeartMath
  • The Connection Practice by Rita Marie Johnson
  • Prageet from Stargate, who channels Alcazar
  • Love and forgiveness
  • The 12 Steps
  • Ho'oponopono
  • Rick Hansen and Dan Siegel's work around brain science
  • Paul Smith's Integral Christianity and the Three Faces of God
  • Spiritual Intelligence with Cindy Wigglesworth
  • Kristen Neff and Sharon Salzburg on self-compassion
  • Ed Townley's “Bible Alive” series in the archives of Unity Online Radio
  • Authors Pema Chodron and Jack Kornfield


“As a seeker, I dug a thousand different inch-deep holes, and wondered why I never found anything of depth,” wrote Nita Strauss, now a Unity minister in Tucson. “I kept searching out this new book, that new speaker, that workshop. I'm as fond as anyone of the next new, bigger, better, shinier thing, but it wasn't very fulfilling,”

Then one day, years ago, Nita had an epiphany: If she identified herself as a lifelong seeker, she would never find anything.

So she went to work. She created a year-long curriculum for herself, reading classic New Thought literature and putting it into practice to find out whether she really believed it. Affirmations and denials, the Bible, Revealing Word. Back to basics.

She committed to a meditation practice that worked for her, filled a stack of journals, and became interested in spirituality and science, as well as common ground between New Thought and Buddhism. Her next natural steps were seminary, then ministry.

“This life I am living is not a dress rehearsal,” she realized.


My conclusions from this question-and-answer experiment? Many of you have questions, while the answers are varied and sometimes elusive.

But consider this suggestion from a spiritual teacher in Dallas:

“Let's shut our eyes for 20 minutes twice a day and observe what begins to blossom in the external. Results are peace, serenity, health, spontaneous right action, manifestation, joy, energy, compassion and love,” he said.

“In essence, (it) may be we are exhausted because we think that the harder we work at perfecting our dualistic belief system, the sooner we will reap our non-dual rewards. When in fact, they may be mutually exclusive.”

Oneness is our natural state, after all.


Are You Spiritually Advanced?

Posted July 8, 2017

old Hindu shaman

You know how you'll hear an idea from four or five different people in quick succession, and you figure you better pay attention?

I've been hearing something I want to check out with you, to see whether this describes you, too. I've been hearing it from people who have been on a spiritual path a long time, some of them ministers but others just seasoned seekers.

It's simply this:

They are hungry to be fed spiritually, but they don't know where to look anymore.

They've read the books, done the workshops, heard the speakers, most of them years ago. They've subscribed to the magazines. They've listened to Hay House or Unity radio, and they've watched Gaia TV.

Many are embedded in churches or spiritual groups of various kinds. They're surrounded by “like-minded” people.

But they're, well, bored. They're tired of Spirituality 101.

They want to learn something new, go deeper, feel challenged and inspired. They want a greater awareness of their divine identity. No, not just awareness, but an experience of, an embodiment of the truth of their being.

Have you felt this way, too? I know I have at times.

It's when every book you pick up seems to say the same things you've read before. No one new has come along to take the mantle from Wayne Dyer or Marianne Williamson or Neale Donald Walsch, at least not on the scale they rocked the world in the 1990s.

And maybe no one needs to. We're all having conversations with God now. We are the healers and teachers and writers.

But where can we get sustenance for our advanced spirituality?


I hesitate to use the term “advanced” because you've heard me argue there are no advanced spiritual principles. We just keep using the same ones over and over in new situations.

But you can use them in ever more elegant ways. The world's most brilliant mathematicians are only adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing, but they are using basic principles to fly into space or create a microchip small enough to circulate in your blood stream.

We are living on a spiral, meeting life each day at a slightly higher level, especially if we work at it consciously.

So where is the advanced material for those who have been elevating themselves, to the best of their ability, for years or decades now?

Not just where, but who might it come from? How would it show up?

And most important, what would it say?


I've been having these conversations about what people want because my new job at Unity World Headquarters is to satisfy spiritual audiences with information and inspiration. The mechanism to connect with them – print, website, blog, podcast, video, social media – can take many forms, but what is the actual content?

So I'm asking you today, what would feed you spiritually?

What would spice up your spiritual life? What would intrigue you?

Seriously, please email and let me know.

  • What are the topics you'd like to see addressed in spiritual terms?
  • What are the life situations you need help handling, even though you can recite affirmations and pray and all that.
  • Do you want comfort and guidance?
  • Or could you use a kick in the pants to start creating your life and be the change you wish to see?
  • What is your understanding of God these days?

What would you like to know more about, even though you've read dozens or hundreds of spiritual books? Where are the gaps for you? Healing, relationships, prosperity? Spiritual tools like meditation? More about the Bible? Metaphysics (and please define what you mean by that)?

Would you like to know about new authors and speakers on the scene, or are you “workshopped out,” as one friend put it? Is it satisfying to go back to read some of the original writers of the past century, or do your eyes glaze over at their dated language?


You know, I should probably stop to ask: Do you consider yourself to be – call it “advanced,” call it “seasoned,” you could even call it “old” – on your spiritual path? Yes, I know, there's always more growth and enlightenment to be had, but seriously, haven't you been doing this a long time now?

And if so, are you feeling a lack of spiritual nourishment?

It's a lot like romance, in my observation. We go through a stage where we just can't get enough of these new spiritual ideas, then eventually, we've heard it all before.

Has it become ho-hum to you? Are you happy with simply practicing your own brand of spirituality alone with no new input?

If so, this job of mine could end very soon!

But I'm guessing you're still in the market for spiritual inspiration if you can find something at your level.

What would truly serve you? And if you have already discovered a new source of inspiration, please tell me that, too!

What do you need, my spiritually advanced friend? Email me.


©2013 Ellen Debenport
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