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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.”

WHAT WOULD HELP?

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?”

BACK TO BASICS

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.”

WHAT'S WORKING FOR SOME

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)
  • emofree.com 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

STOP THE SEEKING

“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.

SO NOW WHAT?

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.

   




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