What do we understand by the word spirituality? If you are from a traditional religion Then it is more likely to mean a focus and aim for a closer connection with ‘’Spirit’ and ‘God’ invariably via prayer contemplation and religious observances. This word has expanded in modern times to include a belief in a supernatural dimension, a quest for meaning and purpose in life. And even psychic abilities.
Presently, it would be fair to say that many people are searching for a meaning that they fail to find in the mundane life experience. It is ironic because I imagine that if you were to be able to ask 50 yrs back a Kalahari bushman or a tribesman in the interior of the Brazilian jungle. They would probably point to the trees, the birds and animals, their group, and their immediate family as having meaning and purpose enough.
I vividly recall being 17 years old and contemplating my life. Being in the same job for the next 40 yrs or so, my loneliness, the dreariness of the city, and envisioning suicide, for if this was my life I wanted none of it, instead, I went searching for meaning in life. This took me through a whole variety of Religions, cults, so-called spiritual groups, as well as healing circles, to name but a few in my long life quest for answers to the question. “What is the true purpose for our existence?”
It is a sad reality that humanity in general terms has become disassociated from the external world, in large measure because they have also lost connection within their internal world. Our technological achievements have also created constant distractions from ourselves. Our disconnection from nature, its rhythms, and its necessities have cocooned us and imprisoned us in our minds. To the point, that what matters is my matching fashionable clothes, where I eat, do I have the right pronouns, Enough tattoos, body piercings, how others might see me and, hopefully, approve of my appearance, to name but a few.
There is a large? Perhaps not so large in terms of the overall world population, group of people who have gone/are going through a similar process to the one I was on. Seeking a peace of mind that eludes them and latching on to the next fad, for they are in internal emotional/mental/physical pain or discomfort. I totally empathise
Many are unlikely to fulfil their initial aspirations, for life requires us to be flexible and pliable. Rigidity brings Death. Our obsession with Zombies in modern culture Is apt, for as we become rigid in our thinking and emotions, we finally become rigid in the body. And these ‘sad’ human creatures are all around us.
One of the greatest stumbling blocks to ‘peace of mind’ is….would you believe, ideology? If you do, let me metaphorically stretch you a bit more. Ideology is one of the paths that lead to rigidity in life. I will define the term ideology as holding a set of beliefs. You might say. “Well, we all need to believe in something, don’t we?” I agree, wholeheartedly, for beliefs are mental maps that define the nature of our world as well as our part in it. Without them, life would be very confusing.
So what is the problem then? For starters, beliefs are not a direct representation of reality, they are approximations according to our experiences, which in turn lead to an understanding of our environment and ourselves. So beliefs are very useful, however, if we get too attached to them, then rigidity of thought sets in. We use beliefs as though they are the TRUTH, whereas they are only meant to be guides to our progression of experience and understanding.
To stay flexible and limber, it is useful to ask, “Where does my belief come from?”. And, “Can a different belief be a better map to explain me and/or Creation?”
For example, I grew up indoctrinated as a catholic. God in heaven, angels and demons, priests as intermediaries to whom if I confess the doors of heaven will open to my soul. Ohh yes, and before I forget, I am born a sinner. Also, God is a peeping tom, as in keeping tabs on all my actions day and night and I need to be fearful of him. Also, I can pray to him on behalf of others, just in case he is not watching them as closely as me, for I undoubtedly have more of His ear than they have.
Clearly, my Catholic faith was a simplistic model handed down to me, designed to keep me fearful and subservient to the intermediaries who are in charge of handling God’s
financial spiritual affairs on this Earth. Yes, I am slightly tongue in cheek, yet the ‘faith’ will give comfort to many, whilst scaring others to the day of their deaths in equal measure.
Historical – many strides have been made in this century with regard to what humanity’s past may have been. Our ideological template, assumed but not expressly stated in the Holy Bible, and widely accepted over the past 600 to 700 years was, that humanity had been created by God approx. 6000 yrs back. From the Victorian era to at least the 1960s if not later, there were archaeologists who made discoveries inconsistent with such a belief. Their discoveries were swept under the table by those whose rigidity could not bear a change of mental program to more closely align with reality. But you can look for them under the heading forbidden archaeology.
These ideologies, without serious foundation in reality, keep coming up to ensnare the gullible. In this century we have Climate change is caused by humans, That Western medicine can cure people. Cosmology – the Big Bang and when the universe started, politics – The way to feed and make all people equal. The latest -That men can become women simply by wishing it to be so. ad nauseam.. What they all have in common is control of the narrative by the few for power, control and financial gain.
The Human Programmable Genetic Machine
As genetic machines, we have 3 separate centres operating within one brain. The physical one is very straightforward to programme via repetitive movements that generate muscle memory. The emotional brain is dependent on both the mental and the physical via feedback loops to release hormones via which to alter the physical functioning of the body. The mind learns from the environment and activates the emotional to mobilize the physical.
The mental is both useful and a hindrance. Useful because it remembers danger and how to respond. A hindrance because it lacks flexibility.
As machines, we are ALL genetically programmed to survive. This requires all 3 centres of the brain to communicate with each other, and we need to differentiate between mind and brain. The brain is the hard drive the storage mechanism, not just for visual memories, but for all 6 senses. The mind could be compared to an average politician – it will lie, tell you that black is white regurgitate information, and speak it as though it is the truth. Why? Because it is driven by fears and insecurities and a desperate need for survival. Mind is a collection of programs, some have arisen in us as a result of perceived danger. Others have been fed into us to conform and be subservient to family, society, and religions.
The mind is driven by fear, but the programming is so insidious that it interferes with our perception of the real world. When we meet someone, our focus is rarely on being like a sponge open and absorbent, whereby we ‘taste’ the qualities of this individual. Rather, our minds are running critical judgement programmes, as to their look, their sound, previous memories if any of our interactions, or what we may have heard about this individual.
Compare the above scenario to meeting someone with an open heart, filled with curiosity and interest.
The human herd – New Age Movement
As human beings, we are genetically programmed to be part of the herd -where there is safety from predators, to be separated or shunned will generate fear and anxiety. This is humanity’s Achilles heel and the basis for ALL indoctrination. It doesn’t matter which group we belong to, the underlying dynamic remains, and this is abused to control us. Be it by governments, religions, political affiliations, and even so-called new-age movements.
All groups will have salient ideologies that define the perception of what is real. To question them is to isolate ourselves and be shunned by the group. For, those who hold rigid beliefs cannot cope with dissenting perceptions.
And so there is a new group that has gained prominence from the early beatnik dissatisfied hippies of the ‘60’s. I refer to those who label themselves as ‘spiritual’ in a non-religious way, and consider themselves to be part of the ‘New Age movement’. You will know them because they dabble with crystal, incense, astrology, yoga, Qi Gong, and tarot cards, and may even label themselves as Buddhists, vegan, vegetarians etc.,
Heck, these groups even have their own individualistic dress sense that says “I am rebelling from the pack”. Except they have now created a new group with their own recognizable ideas and dress dis-sense. By which to identify themselves to others, without realizing they are still rigidified.
I have met many so-called spiritual people over the years as I used to classify myself as one of them. By and large, I assure you they are as confused as the rest. They hope for powers, to be special, to be saved, that they are in the know, old souls, here from another galaxy or star system, here to save the planet from intergalactic evil doers… the list goes on and on.
I assure you that anyone that calls him/herself a master of this or that cult , group or discipline is as clueless as the rest. For knowledge is not wisdom, and hypnotizing yourself as you sit rigidly is not enlightenment.
Humanity has but one task, to live life to the full. And to achieve this end, we are pre-programmed to and will seek, someone to love, partner with, to feed the body what it needs, not by some acquired mental program but by instinctively listening to one’s needs. And this is the rub of the matter.
We carry so much unexpressed mental conflict, and emotional repression, that ultimately our bodies suffer the pain. And we are so lost and so desperate to heal that we listen to any charlatan (who is as lost as we are) that comes our way.
There is only one way out of the conundrum. To connect with intensity, be it emotional and or mental conflict and to once more immerse ourselves into whatever physical pain or discomfort we carry around with us. What we do instead is to numb ourselves with drugs, be they Western or recreational, and stuff ourselves with manufactured sugars and cheap vegetable fats.
Spirituality as the ego attempting to survive death or be something greater than ordinary, is a dead end – we are machines. And the soul that connects with us does not need the machine to lord it over it. Rather, the soul requires the machine to let go of the reins and be guided by its heart.
Sounds simple enough, right? There is just one tiny little hurdle, Self – love and acceptance. For we mostly dislike who we are, how we think, how we look, and the emotions we are overwhelmed by. For we constantly judge ourselves by how the group might perceive us, find us wanting, and that we will be ostracized, cast out, friendless, alone.
Joshua and I did a podcast in two parts on the subject of spirituality and being human. See below.