Every spiritual practice is necessarily a personal spiritual practice – it’s impossible to remove yourself from the process. However, it IS possible to have a greater or lesser awareness of what’s going on. My own belief system has shifted greatly over my lifetime, and I'm confident it will continue to shift. Stasis is death, after all, and besides that, it’s boring. The following are my own Guides for a Personal Spiritual Practice, arranged in order of what does not, and then what does work for me.
Hate. The universe is love, we come from love, we are love, all is love. I don’t care about the justifications, lame-ass excuses, or tortured distortions from ancient tomes. Hate, including bigotry, intolerance, oppression – all its forms – are the opposite of a spiritual practice. They are a descent into the ego. Our society is seeing a resurgence of hate, or perhaps merely pulling back the curtain at what was already there. In any case, it is truly awful to behold. Using hate in a spiritual practice cancels out its entire purpose – connection to the divine. We don’t get to connect to divinity through hate, and the killing it inspires unmasks its true aspect – a celebration of death.
Fear. If your spirituality requires fear as fuel, then it is bankrupt. The extremes that some go to in order to manufacture fear is astonishing – fear of eternal punishment after you die, fear of the spiteful wrath of a loving deity, fear of humanity itself unless it is reined in by fear…there seem to be no limits on what we must fear in order to be “worthy”. And therein lies the greatest lie – fear that we are somehow not “good enough” for the presence of divinity. We, who come from divinity, hold divinity in us continually, share divinity with all others, in fact literally cannot escape divinity if we wanted to, are somehow “unworthy” of divinity unless we jump through the necessary hoops assigned by others. Ultimately, it is our own power, our own connection to divinity, to each other, to ALL, that we are taught to fear. Fuck that.
Dogma. The idea that someone has to come along and supply us with the Accepted Eternal Truths is repulsive. I love-love-love learning about new ideas, insights, and truths. Comparing these gems of knowledge and truth to my own, subjecting them for review by my own inner knowing, sitting with them and feeling their relevance to MY life, MY existence, MY values, is essential to the process of learning. One betrayal I can never make is to assign my truth to another. It’s easy to spot those who do so – when confronted with differing beliefs, they respond with hate and fear. There is no security, no peace, and no real growth in giving over your accountability for your own truth.
Arrogance. Leave your arrogance at the door – it has no place in a respectful discussion. Your truths are yours – you don’t get to inflict them on me. I love a lively discussion, and a chance to go deep into differing beliefs and philosophies – if I’m lucky, I’ll learn something and change my own. At the least, I’ll get greater clarity on my own beliefs. As soon as you bring in arrogance, you attempt to claim sovereignty over me, my beliefs, and my life experience. That never goes well.
The flip side of the coin is my playground. Show up with Love – the real stuff – and I’m with you. Choose into Joy rather than Hate, and you’re speaking my language. Love and Joy are my essence, and they are yours as well, whether you are tapped into that or not. Dogma shuts down genuine inquiry, so step into life with the irrepressible curiosity of the child, and let’s play together. Life is endlessly interesting - fascinating really - and ultimately unknowable, so we get to have a lifetime of endless exploring together, knowing the well will never run dry. Living in a place of constant learning and growth, we will never have room for arrogance – how can we, when we know that tomorrow may upend everything we thought we knew today!
Let your spiritual practice free you. When you fully connect into your divine nature, you will finally be free to be fully human as well, and together we can create a world where humans can actually live, love and find peace.