I’m spiritual, but not religious. For many of you that statement means that I’m not serious. That I can’t make a commitment. The stereotype of that kind of thinking is an air-headed flake that can’t quite make up their mind.
For others, even uttering the word religion or for that matter, spirituality, will mean the conversation is over. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the words “I’m not like that” or “I’m not interested in that”, when I want to talk about spirit or the metaphysical or even religion. Complete tune-out happens.
And that’s too bad because as humans, we truly are spiritual beings in a human body (I didn’t invent that phrase, by the way). Our soul and/or spirit needs to be fed and nurtured. It’s probably more important to our health, than is the physical. The two are tied so closely together that many can’t even feel or recognize their spiritual component.
When I say that I’m not religious, that doesn’t mean that I reject religion, but that I just don’t embrace it as my personal path. In fact, I believe that we are entering a post-religious era on earth as we watch all of our sacred institutions crumble due to corruption and because they no longer serve the needs of the ‘flock’. They serve themselves and wealthy benefactors.
Religion in it’s current form, feels to many of us as if there are too many rules. It should make us feel loved and uplifted, not punished or judged or broken. I believe that we are made in love and of love and for a religion to assume that we are all sinners isn’t healthy for the world.
Having said that, Jesus was such a great teacher and the Sermon On the Mount is something that I re-read fairly often. To me, that’s the essence of Christianity in it’s simple message. If you’ve never read it, I encourage you to. It’s powerful and a beautiful example of how we should walk in the world and treat others.
But, that’s my opinion. We’ll see how we evolve.
What I want to express to those of you who reject organized religion and are also throwing out spiritual practice with that dirty water, is that you can make your own path and form your own belief system. You don’t HAVE to label it. You don’t HAVE to join a group or community (although sometimes, that feels pretty good). You don’t have to go anywhere or label yourself. You ARE spiritual because you are part of humanity and an inhabitant of Mother Earth.
My personal belief system is constantly widening and expanding and morphing and growing. I’m like an octopus with eight arms, reaching out to wherever my intution leads me; many beliefs and practices speak to me and that’s okay.
I started with Christianity for obvious reasons and then studied Buddhism, began to meditate, was drawn to a more metaphysical approach. I am fed and inspired by nature, so I am drawn to some Native American/indigenous peoples practices. I recently began reading about shamanism and have incorporated that into my meditation practice. Delving into astrology in a deeper way has opened up my eyes to the ancient wisdom of man.
Every step that I take results in a richer spiritual understanding of not only myself, but everything else on earth and of the things that we can’t see, but that we can feel. Death no longer scares me; in fact, I now believe that it will be another phase of my development and existence on another realm.
So, when I suggest to people who tell me that they’re struggling or angry all of the time or feeling lost or adrift, I tell them to begin a spiritual practice. I usually suggest meditation and yet, so many reject it. “I’m not religious. Look at all of the wars and violence and killings that religion causes!”
Yeah, I get it. I used to say that, too. I used to say that I don’t believe in anything that I can’t see or prove. “Religion is the opiate of the masses”, right?
So, don’t be ‘religious’. You don’t HAVE to pick one. And contrary to conventional wisdom here in the U.S., you don’t HAVE to be Christian. You have a huge, rich, diverse body of spiritual thought, philosophy and literature to choose from.
Thousands and thousands of years of wisdom is available to pick from. Be a rebel WITH a cause; your own spiritual growth. The choice isn’t religion or atheist. You are a spirit. Your spirit aches for acknowledgement and growth. Let it out to play. Find what speaks to you and if it’s a tree, then study some earth based rituals.
The truth of the matter is that we are all made of earth, air, fire and water. There’s a reason that we love walking the beach, a campfire, the smell of fresh cut grass ; we crave those parts of us and too often, we deny them.
If you’re struggling, know that we all are. We all suffer as humans, we all are challenged, particularly by modern life, where we feel so powerless and untethered and unloved. Your soul will tell you what you need, if you JUST LISTEN. Stop rejecting spirit. You don’t have to go to church or join a religion or follow rules.
Your path is yours. Not your parent’s or your children’s or your government’s or your neighbor’s or your friend’s or your minister’s/priest’s. Locate your spirit, talk to it, listen to where it guides you. Be you. Be brave.
I was reading something about my natal astrological chart and the placement of a particular planet or asteroid. Thanks to this placement, it said I was very good at giving advice…to other people. The article suggested that I sit down and give myself the same advice that I would to a give a friend in my situation. That’s not so easy, eh?
But, here goes:
First off, you need to lighten up. You just don’t laugh like you used to. In fact, you walk around with creases in your face, looking as if you’re deep in worry or concern or even agony. Not a good look for you.
You can’t solve all of the world’s problems. I know you feel called to speak up and call out what you perceive as ignorance, injustice, foggy thinking, hypocrisy, blah, blah, blah, but sometimes people enjoy the confusion. Or maybe the people that you think are confused, are actually wiser than you.
We all look around us and see ‘other people’ screwing up. It’s their fault that there isn’t more love and peace in the world. If only ‘other people’ would seek enlightenment; if only they would awaken. Well, some will and some won’t.
Jane, you can only fulfill your own destiny. You can only walk your own path and your overwhelming need to control your own path bleeds out into needing to control everyone’s. That, my dear, is not enlightenment. That is suffering and confusion and pure futility.
You’re also way too hard on yourself. The striving for perfection in your diet, your intellect, your pet guardianship, your finances, your….well, your life, is paralyzing you. You are on a constant and exhausting search for the holy grail that will transform you into this being of glowing health and light. This striving is what is actually KEEPING you from attaining this. STOP striving! Stop grasping and controlling and gnashing your teeth.
Jane, the dogs and cats will be fine. Allow them to just ‘be’ without the constant worry over their diets, well-being and activities. The same goes for your darling husband. Let him be who he is. Don’t micro manage his diet, his clothing, his TV/media consumption. Let that shit go.
You have to trust more. Life will flow as it flows, just like the water that embodies your astrological sign of Scorpio. You have a lot of water in your chart, along with a fair amount of fire, but you need to give the water freer rein to tamp down that fire that compels you to be constantly ‘workin’ it’. Flow, Jane. It’s all any of us can do.
The bottom line is that you know all of these things. You’ve studied and read and ruminated and immersed yourself in the metaphysical and the spiritual. You meditate, do energy work, call upon your guides, spend time in nature and attempt to give it all up to The Divine/Source/Spirit/The Universe and yet, you still suffer.
So, finally, here is my advice to you/me: Listen. To you, to me, to Source, to nature, to your gut. All of the guidance, help and comfort that you seek is in you. It’s already here for you. Listen and don’t question EVERYTHING. Listen. Allow. Then, be.
Words that Mr. Donald Trump would never allow to escape his lips. Which brings me to the subject at hand: I gave Trump the benefit of the doubt. Even though I would never vote for him, I honestly thought he would moderate some of his nuttier comments and I was wrong.
The events of this past weekend show that he is, indeed a dangerous man. He is appealing to fear and anger and our basest and most destructive emotions.
At this point, it seems impossible for anyone to support him and yet, he’s drawing crowds and votes.
I keep reminding myself that I’ve seen a revolution on the horizon and that I know this kind of turmoil must happen in order to move forward and transform our country. This undercurrent of anger and hatred and fear and bigotry and aggression has been building for years. I’ve said it before: we are a violent and aggressive country and culture.
Trump has tapped into that and has emboldened some people to hate their fellow Americans. He is inciting people to actually act on this anger and hate and it’s very dangerous. For us and for the candidates. But, it’s probably a necessary evil and is part of our cultural cleanse that we need. Let this stuff see the light of day. Look at it closely, then look in the mirror and see how you may be contributing to this division.
We are in a pivotal moment where courage and integrity are of paramount importance; from all of us. We like to blame Washington, D.C., the politicians, the immigrants, the minorities, the gays, the women, the men, the rich, the poor, the aliens…they are us. We must stand up and examine our beliefs, our actions, our words. Don’t call Trump voters names, but rather, lead by example. Stay calm, focused and summon up what you know, in your belly, is right and just and good. We are all Americans. We are all humans trying to make our way on a troubled and complicated planet.
Simplicity is called for: Be kind.
2016 is the year of the purge; a time to cleanse. Every astrological, metaphysical and spiritual video/newsletter/blog that has shown up in my inbox over the past week has reiterated this same theme. It’s the year to leave some wounds behind and get your shit together. We can’t build anything new, until we expunge the old. Shred it, smash it, burn it. Just do it.
I’ve recently gone back to reading some things with the Buddhist tone or theme that awakened me 5 or 6 years ago, as I began to re-shape my life and my reactions to my life. The overriding theme of Buddhism, to me anyway, is that we cause ourselves and others so much pain by our lack of honesty and clarity. We cling to what “should be”, rather than what is. In Buddhist terms, that is called suffering.
We do it all day, every day. Because we are humans. Because we live in our minds and we make up stories about how other people should behave. We judge, we criticize, we rant, we argue. In some horrible instances, we shoot, we stab, we blow up, we murder or sanction murder via our leaders and governments. All in pursuit of our need to control what “should be”.
Painful, isn’t it? Yes. And it affects our personal health, both physical and emotional, our global health and obviously, our spiritual health, which some believe is actually beginning to come back from the dead, despite so much evidence to the contrary on the 24 hour news channels.
Accepting ‘what is’ and letting go of ‘what should be’ is one of the greatest paths to clarity. At least it has been for me. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t suffer and rage, just like you. I do, but I’m more and more able to arrest it more quickly, thanks to meditation and practice.
One of the most obvious ways that we suffer from ‘should be’ syndrome is with politics. We are all so invested in the outcome of elections that we fight and argue and call the other side awful names and in too many cases, expunge those who disagree with us from our lives or our Facebook friend list.
I’m not voting in the Presidential election this year. I’ve been lectured, I’ve been cajoled, I’ve been criticized and called selfish for this decision. I’ve been told, “well, then you can’t complain if you don’t vote”. Really? Watch me.
Here’s why I’ve made this choice: Every 4 years, we choose teams and then we fight and we name call and we invest a lot of time advocating, often with great hostility, for our team. It’s painful and frustrating and time consuming to go all in for one candidate or the other.
Then, we have an election. Half of the people celebrate. “We won!!”. The other half are bitterly disappointed. “Our lives will be horrible, now”. Neither is true. So, again, we are living with what “should be”, rather than “what is”.
The losing team, now spends the next 4 years berating, complaining and hoping for complete and utter failure of the winning team. There is no compromise, no tackling of problems or working toward solutions. New problems and crises arise and the losers complain bitterly that it’s all the winners’ fault.
The winners refuse to see that there might be some credence in the philosophy of the other side. That the losing team might have some good ideas. “Elections matter. We won. You lost. SHUT UP.”
Sound familiar. Sound painful and non-productive and silly?
We are all too invested in outcomes. We all just want to win and be right and then rub the losers’ noses in it. Nothing really changes. Nothing gets solved and it is a vicious, every-4-years cycle that I choose to remove myself from.
I honestly don’t care who wins. I have to live my life regardless of who is elected as the Leader of the Free World. So, why invest? I have to deal with ‘what is’ after an election. Period. This is referred to as “don’t know mind”. In other words none of us can ever predict an outcome with any accuracy at all, so why try? Any one of those running could be a great leader or a horrible one. We just don’t know, do we?
Think about some instances in your life that seemed tragic or painful or catastrophic, that actually resulted in a decent outcome or at the very least, some personal growth. I was fired from several jobs. In that moment, it was horrible, but I ended up in better situations.
I suffered some very painful losses of loved ones over the course of a short time and yes, it was extremely painful, but I’ve had a spiritual growth spurt thanks to that shock.
We honestly have no idea of the consequences of any action. Embrace that, open up to it and begin to let go of the ‘should be’ and live with ‘what is’.
So, what if we just remain open to whatever arises? What if after the election we accept the outcome and accept that we have no idea whether it will be good or bad? Because it will be; good and bad and calm and chaotic and scarce and abundant. That is life. Accept it for what it is. You will adapt, you will change, you will be forced to.
And that’s okay. Nobody is right or wrong.
Life has a way of making us face reality anyway. Might as well be two steps ahead, eh? Embrace the ‘know nothing’ mind. Be free. Surrender.