Insights from The Deep
Taking The Uncommon Spiritual Journey
Some think a spiritual evolution or enlightenment is about "rising" to "the heavens" and suddenly arriving at a place where new levels of understanding change everything - and all is good, and all reality is shifted. And we fly high above the confusion of common living. Well... we are learning there is more to ascension than what ancient masters told us.
Religions speak of the great rewards in the heavens, or the payoff after death... but only if we have been "good" and lived a pure life. And some of them speak about finding those rewards on earth by living in a higher state of consciousness in the midst of temptation.
For years, I believed I should also seek the higher road, and think of ascension as my main focus. Do you know how hard it is to keep yourself inflated to the point where your feet never touch the ground?
Let me tell you... it takes a fair amount of work to deceive yourself that much.
It all happened ever so slowly over decades. But at one point, I began to believe that life, in general was "low." Therefore, I began to believe I could make it better for myself by eliminating things that are not worthy of my highly evolving soul journey. This meant, I no longer ate certain foods because they were either dead or had low vibrations; and I stopped participating in certain activities that were "beneath me," like competitive activities. I once enjoyed board games and especially a good game of Monopoly. If you no longer care about owning property or beating the other players what is the point? Well, so, I gave up Monopoly. It no longer fit my new persona. I no longer associated with certain types of people. I surrounded myself with people who were on the same path I was on... the spiritual high road. Systematically, I "purified" my existence. That's good, right? That's the right way to do life, right?
Well...not so fast, and not so much. It was good, but it was also lonely at the "top." If you live in a community where everyone thinks as you do, and follows all the rules of spiritual evolution, and they also remain purified, well it is easy to live this way. Churches thrive this way, by keeping all the chickens safe and protected from the big bad world. But just step out of that bubble, and you are in trouble. It is as if the oxygen has been sucked from your lungs and you are desperately looking for air.
Overly dramatic? Well, maybe; but I have been on a long spiritual journey, the most uncommon spiritual journey ever. It started when I "ascended" into some level of spiritual mastery; but then I had to leave my community for family reasons and venture into places where people had no idea or any interest in the things that were important to me... like all my spiritual stuff... like soul stuff.... Like the Universe, for gosh sakes! That's right, I has trying to maintain my "higher mind" among "lower minds." At least that's what I felt my test was all about - to keep my own faith strong while having no visible means of support anywhere around me. This was my test by fire. To remain "high" above the fray while the rest of humanity scrambled in the messy aspects of life, struggling for survival. Oh, I was strong. I could handle it. So I reluctantly left my beloved spiritual community, but with the inner knowing that I would be all right. It happened slowly, but the unraveling began immediately in small ways that were barely detectable. I thought I was okay. I had to keep reminding myself I was okay.
Just imagine this scenario... your feet are floating well above the ground, and it gives you a better view of yourself, being a pure soul; and you see the "others" who are not floating with you, but down on the ground. You have compassion. You just don't put your feet into that mess, right? So, you try to be gracious and loving, respectful of the others who suffer and writhe in pain beneath you, while your own head is in the clouds of heaven, and you are safe. So, yes.... Do you have that picture? Now think of that picture while I tell you how it really goes down. And by down, I mean splat to the ground, going down!
So I had become pure, and I no longer allowed particular thoughts to enter my mind; and I trusted myself, and no longer trusted any human motivation I witnessed around me. Playing safe... staying alive, right? I trusted only the "universe." The universe now had my back; and because I had made myself pure, I knew that only the universe could show me a true path, mete out true evolved tests and lessons, or allow the right people to come into my life. Yep. The universe and I were a fortress together.
WOW. Does this sound silly? I laugh now, but in the journey from the clouds down to the bottoms of my feet, I was conflicted. Really conflicted. It took a long circular journey for me to spiral back around and look at where my path had lead me... yikes, back to myself! Actually, I took that descending journey through no wish of my own. Life circumstances happened and I had to leave the chicken coup to take care of family matters. In taking this long journey, I have found that the only way "up" is to go down. Yes, that's right. I found that spiritual evolution is about living in the beauty of the descending path, not the purified ascension model.
Why does "descending" imply something is wrong while "ascending" implies something is better? We speak and understand the metaphors of up and down. Good, bad, high ideals, low consciousness, etc. But we never deconstruct how this actually works for personal growth and evolution. For just a moment think, what if "up" was really "down?" What if all that purification and exclusivity, and all the elimination of lowly things was actually preventing us from growing into the fullest, happiest, most loving human beings on the planet? What if our beliefs actually prevented us from knowing what potential for growth and wisdom lies in touching the ground?
Think of this for a moment... and then allow me to unravel some things I had wrong. I am baring my soul, here, so be kind with your thoughts.
I had been taught by so many spiritual masters that I must (in order to live a better life) disassociate myself from people who have vices. That means, no smokers, drinkers, eaters, cheaters, etc. So, okay, I did that. Now I had only "evolved" friends. But it also meant, I had to also disassociate myself from family, co-workers, and all those people who spent Sundays watching football and drinking beer, having a lowly good time. Done. Poof. Getting lonely here...
Next, I was taught that politics and world news are illusions. Don't pay attention to the "others" who are invested in that type of world. We can make the world in our own way, right? Our way is to see the higher view and know that we don't have to be influenced by all that mucky reality. So, okay, done. No more politics. No more war. No more money issues. Our world is tainted and corrupt, right? So don't participate. Done, done, and done.
I must have been getting pretty darned pure by then. Look at all I had eliminated. No more old friends who smoke, or have affairs or over-indulge in life. No more "buying in" to the prevailing reality. I had found that nirvana was within my ability to make it. So I focused on making it. And I lived there for a good long time smack dab in the middle of nirvana... and then the fall... the undoing of all that programming... The fraying of both ends at the same time, and finding myself with no support from either end - the high side or the low side. When people speak of spiritual crisis, I think I know something about this.
Crashing to earth a few times, I eventually learned this important fact. If I rise "above" life happening all around me, I don't become more pure. I become more ignorant. There are important things happening at ground level that I can be part of if I allow my feet to touch the ground - like community decisions, and even world decisions. I found that wisdom comes in all forms, from my understanding of the homeless guy begging for a dollar, to the fakery and plasticity of Hollywood. There is richness and wisdom in all the vices. You have to be aware, awake, and aligned with love; but when you are, your feet can touch the ground without consequences. But I had to learn this the hard way. The really hard way with a very hard landing.
My most constant source of support was the spiritual support I found in communing with water. Yes, that's right. But bear in mind, water is low and high at the same time. It is beautiful, and pure; but then it gets dirty, filthy, in fact. It gets filled with waste and disgusting things of the low side. I was forced to learn about these realities while still maintaining my idealistic perspective. Painful. I had to come to the ultimate realization that water is high - very high - very, very high AND water is low, very low - very, very low! Think of this tug-of-war awakening being played out in my confused mind. And bear in mind, too, I had been away from a spiritual community of like-minded people for a long time, and had been living among those who eat flame grilled hot dogs while I was smelling the aroma and wanting some of that flavor. And then I forced myself to eat carrots instead. If you think carrots stop the craving... well you are just wrong. And don't believe anyone who says it does. They are delusional.
Ah... it was a fall like none other. As I said earlier, SPLAT! That was the gift in all this experience. Coming down was the evolution of my soul.
The ground is where we get all of our support, nutrition, and "grounding." Wisdom comes "down" through transmission, or inheritance; and we actually evolve our souls greater than any ascension we may perceive. How can this be true? Prophets and teachers have always encouraged us to think with a higher mind. And, ugh, yes, this is true, that old "higher mind" deception. But did you ever notice that many who step onto that upward spiral are never again able to function in earth-based reality? Did you ever notice that once we allow our consciousness to leave the ground, we are forever seeking something higher and more profound? Did you ever notice that once you taste the self-imposed taste of purification, you can never go back to the taste of fun, outrageous messy life?
I noticed it a while back. I watched myself reach for more information, more mysticism, and more connection to the cosmos. Silly me. I lost my mind for a while thinking there was more "connection" if I reached for it "out in space" than what I could grasp right here in my own little contaminated pool. It was in the contamination that I got the most power. I admit, I had to stop, look, and listen. I had to explore the depths to find my way to safety. But I did it. It was a filthy swim, but I got out of that water and rinsed the residue and kept the wisdom.
We house the universe within - and when we remember this, we can easily and gratefully maintain and sustain the universe outside. If we strive to achieve a transcendent state, we are actually leaving behind all that lives in our material, natural, and psychological world. Some say reaching a higher state is a worthy goal. I say it is flying away from what our souls came to learn. Our soul's purpose is to know how to be a human being in the midst of all the chaos. To do that, we must learn to live and evolve within the parameters of humanity honoring earth-based reality - if we want our soul to graduate. By seeking a transcendent state of mind and a path to ascension, we have already missed the point of being alive.
So... I most assuredly fell off my cloud and landed squarely on the uncommon path of spiritual enlightenment... the one that puts me at ground level with every other living thing on the planet. I went down to the earth, the dirt, the mess. And I am surviving. But I am also changing. My voice is different. My words are different. My goals are simple and different. In order to survive this part of my journey, I keep my feet dirty and my mind clean. Water washes my feet each day and I start over. No shoes for me. I want to touch the ground and keep myself humble. But I also want to keep expanding my mind. Mostly, I found a heart opening in the middle of the muck that also wants to remain open. Those "others" whom I had "risen" above ... well they are my kin in this reality. They choose differently than I do, but we are the same. I am no more pure than anyone else, even if I occasionally let myself float. Eventually I will come down because we all must touch the ground in order to walk through life.
It is for me to make appropriate decisions about my life, but any way I choose to do it, there will be earthly bumps and rocks to navigate. Surprisingly, I found, by going down, I "elevated" my own consciousness into the stages of grieving... disbelief, anger, remorse, forgiveness, and full acceptance. I ate the hot dog and drank the beer, and I watched Sunday Football and played Monopoly. I did it with full love, full consciousness, in balance between the two opposing forces of energy - up and down. Any guilt I may have felt about my transgressions is completely gone. I did feel the pull from either end but it provided me with just enough tension so I could remain in that neutral position without mis-guided understandings engulfing me either way. It hasn't been easy. What is?
Remember this... that each of us face an uncommon journey, and if we have framed our journey with love and compassion, there is no need to leave our bodies or minds in order to fill our thoughts with "higher spirit." This is our world. It is where our souls have chosen to practice their skills. It is a universe that is worthy of sustaining us through our attention and intention. When we choose to spend our lives in spiritual trance, we overlook the places where our divinity can make a huge impact toward making the universe better for all living things. It is only when we fill our thoughts with pure understanding of our own suffering and the suffering all around us, that we can see a clear path through the pain. This is our soul's journey of life and it is not a battlefield, but a field of opportunities in which to honor our Divinity. We don't have to make any other choices. They are already handled for us.
Did we try to transcend our reality because our given life seemed too broken to face? Well, get over that and fix it. Let yourself fall and allow your personal splat to teach you something about yourself -- that messy, ungodly self. Then, watch enlightenment happen to you in spite of your tight control. Enlightenment doesn't come with directions, up or down. It just comes.