My Blog Motto

"Good judgement comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgement"

~Rita Mae Brown

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Here be Dragons, the Uncharted Waters of Spiritual Discovery

In our land of freedom to worship as we choose, there are almost unlimited paths available to explore our quest for spiritual meaning (even if there are those who would like to change that).  We also live in the land of opportunity, i.e. free market profit motivated capitalism, and inevitably the path to enlightenment will sometimes intersect with the road to riches. Of course this only happens because those who construct the roads design them this way. This particular brand of urban planning is one of the most heinous and damaging cross sections of ideals I can imagine. Sadly it seems to be everywhere these days; challenging times create conditions which awaken a hunger and longing for both spiritual guidance and economic security.
I was raised well enough to have been taught the lesson that some things simply do not belong in the same lunch basket; religion and politics...and spirituality and profit. Yet the more we hunger the less we discernment we apply when attempting to fill the void. Every so often a new practice comes into vogue, usually one that is not originally part and parcel of the white middle class culture that attempts to embrace it. We are drawn to the promise and allure of spiritual fulfillment, a greater sense of meaning, and bored or unfulfilled by the traditions of our youth we look outside of the existing culture hoping to discover some novel approach that will hold the key to happiness. And lucky for us in this land of opportunity there is no shortage of willing teachers, guides and gurus to help us along our journey. And since we are accustomed to pay for service in our culture we practically expect to pay for the gift. Unfortunately many of us are unaware, as we reach out to spiritual guides and into our pockets, that not only money but our own life force or energy may be the price we pay for 'enlightenment and awakening'. If we jump into a path without proper investigation and research we are vulnerable and defenseless, possibly prone to injury or psychic damage.
Many of these programs or movements borrow (and I use that term loosely) from ancient traditions that have been cultivated, preserved, perfected and carried on through generations of indigenous culture. Many of the practices now being packaged and sold in easy step by step westernized instructions are watered down versions of intensely intimate and spiritual relationships formed between devoted practitioners and mentors. These practices require years of dedication to study, sacrifice (self sacrifice not the other kind) and consistent adherence to patterns of living. There is good reason for the time, effort and responsibility that is demanded of the seeker and that is that dealing with the unseen worlds is frankly not what you would call a walk in the park. These worlds are unseen for a reason...we humans are only beginning to be able to grasp the magnificence of the infinite dimensional realities and the beings who inhabit them. Of course there have always been those who have either been gifted from birth or who have acquired the ability to relate to the unseen but they are unique and represent a very small section of the general population. It is an insult to those who have spent their entire lives aligned in dedication and daily practice to attempt to replicate their experience in a week long seminar within the comfort and luxury of a multimillion dollar resort or hotel.
In regard to 'borrowing' the practices of other cultures, I think there are ways to do this respectfully. Many teachers have offered their knowledge, regardless of race or cultural background. There are after all probably more similarities than differences among most spiritual practice and belief and there have been cross cultural merging of tradition for centuries. There is nothing wrong with sampling teachings of many different paths, in fact I think it's probably the best way (along with meditation and honest self examination) to discover what teachings resonate most harmoniously with our unique character, values and personality. But for those who go off to a weekend workshop and return home as a proclaimed shaman or Wise one I have serious concerns. I can only hope that they will, in one way or another, come to discover that wisdom cannot be bought and it cannot be hurried.
Now we are hearing that based on ancient prophecies, astrological alignments and the teachings of the Wise, that we as Human Beings are entering a stage in our development in which we are ready to begin opening to many of the great Mysteries. I do believe this, but I also think that we need to remember that development is a process and like any other process it happens on natures time, not on Ego time. Think about the parents who try to force their children into walking, talking or toilet training before the baby is developmentally able. The results are usually disastrous. Either the entire family becomes frustrated and angry, the child often develops feelings of inferiority and a sense of not being good enough and ultimately the kid is not going to learn until they are able. The conscientious and respectful parent, the child centered parent, offers guidance and support along the way, giving the child the confidence and tools she needs to be able to take those steps, or pee on the pot, when she is ready. And so it must be with us, as we develop our spiritual understanding, that we do so with loving support and careful attention to our process.  In order to become fully enlightened and evolved we must clear out old energies and patterns that are no longer productive...this process can be painful. Old issues resurface in order to get our attention, to remind us of what is no longer healthy (or maybe never was). Some of us have more difficult lessons than others.
If you are finding this time is not all peaches and cream, don't's all part of the big messy wondrous process that is life. Mundane life is messy and we carry a lot of that stuff with us into our inner journey. If you are struggling please know you do not have to go it alone. If your chosen teacher is worth their salt, they will offer support and understanding. They will allow you to progress at a rate that is safe for you. If not it may be time to start shopping for a new guide. There are online resources for people experiencing spiritual crisis and although you may have to search through a good many "snake oil salesmen" as they used to say in the old days, there are plenty of ethical and compassionate mentors and guides out there.
A good place to start is The Spiritual Emergence Network, they have been around for decades and I personally know individuals who have worked and studied with some of the original founders. If you can't find what you are needing here you will be given appropriate referrals.
I am also available for consultation or even just as a compassionate ear if need be. My own spiritual travels have led me along many paths and there is nothing that will shock or alarm me. Please don't hesitate to message me if you need an ear or some advice. And of course, all correspondence will be confidential and free of charge. If there is interest, I am considering starting a new feature highlighting spiritual awakening as a regular blog, so I do welcome and appreciate your honest feedback.
May your journey be blessed, adventurous and true to your soul and may you discover the beauty and wisdom that dwells within!
© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard