I have long believed that all spiritual principles are simple. It has been my constant intention to remove all the extra material from around a subject and get to its core. I prefer to work with it on that level, and share what I come to understand or realize.
When I first started my spiritual journey, I entered, for a time, into the world of magic. There were all these processes one had to go through to cast a spell. I was mostly interested in contacting whatever it is that lays beyond the physical. I ventured into the Tarot for the same reason, and still have an interest in that and the Akashic Records.
I find all these ceremonies, this gesturing and posturing, to be completely irrelevant. With all due respect to Catholics, I think all that extra dressing up, drawing symbols in the air, washing one’s hand in a basin, the use of incense burners, etc. gets in the way of the real reason anyone would come to church in the first place.
In my mind we go to a church or religious event or, as I am about to do, to a spiritual conference, for one thing… To receive knowledge that we do not feel we already have. That we are not aware that we already have. If indeed we even do. We go to hear the word of God, whatever or whoever we call God. We go to find something outside the physical, something that verifies our mostly collective belief as a race that there is something more than this physical body and the physical world we inhabit with it.
When I first left the Christian faith I knew nothing of the ego, or the subconscious mind. I knew nothing about God for that matter, because all I thought I knew about God had been adopted from others, either in the words of the Bible or in the words of a pastor or my parents speaking them. I did not know God in my own experience. I still do not, but at least now I can experience whatever this energy or entity is for myself.
I have adopted these beliefs. But the problem is that when I left my former faith, I experienced, first hand, for myself, what it is like to rip out a belief system that was a part of your identity. When I was a Christian and someone asked me who I am, I would say something like, “My name is… and I’m a Christian.” Renouncing my faith, turning my back on it, meant renouncing and turning my back on a part of what I thought of as myself. Being a Christian was who I was. It was not the religion I followed, it was, in essence, me!
After this painful experience, for which there are no sufficient words, I learned that I wanted to hold all my beliefs loosely. That I no longer wanted to be identified by the things I believed. This tied in well with my desire to keep spiritual things simple. But I have come to realize that old habits die hard.
When I studied self-hypnosis I was taught about this thing called the subconscious mind. I adopted the belief in this idea that the mind is somehow separated into sections, like an iceberg, with the conscious mind being the tip of the iceberg, and the subconscious mind being the larger part under the water. I guess it made sense to me at the time.
But I have since come to understand that such a belief system comes with other beliefs inherent in it. These beliefs both complicate the subject of the mind and, as far as I am concerned, disempower any who believe in them. With this viewpoint there is this idea of programming. That you are helpless as a child, being programmed by authority figures, and now, as an adult who wishes to change that programming, you have to use self-hypnosis or go to therapy. You are powerless against this programming, which is stored guess where? In some hidden and hard to access part of your mind, called the subconscious.
I have gone into great detail about this at a thread over at the Dao Bums but will not provide a link here. If you are curious I will leave you to find the forums, search for my name, and you should find it easily enough. I am not sharing the link because I am not proud of anything I have said there. In fact, over the course of the discussion I have failed to do many of the things I think of as part of my spiritual practice.
I find myself filled with doubts, unsure about anything. To the point that I am looking at this idea I had, of going to the Big Sur and maybe seeing if there is a place where I fit, where I may perhaps teach, as being something I am not worthy of. One of my practices is to practice what I preach, so-to-speak, to live what I teach. But if I am uncertain about myself and the things I teach, how can I teach them to others? If I am not practicing and living the things I am saying, how can I share them with others?
I am not blessed like others with awakening. I am not, as far as I understand it, enlightened. I have no direct, personal experience of God. Just some success manifesting things, and some, what Wayne Dyer, referring to Maslow, calls, “Peak Experiences.” Nothing at all substantial. My whole spiritual practice is built on sand, not on solid rock. If I am identified with the waves and not the ocean everything could be washed away the next time the tide comes in.
So I am not sharing that link here, because I am ashamed of myself. I am doubting myself. I know, intellectually, how I should approach things, what I should do. Or at least I think I know. But I have not, as of this moment, been able to bridge the gap between knowing and actually being.
Another belief I adopted is that of the ego. You hear this one from all spiritual traditions I think, except maybe Christianity. I don’t know for sure, I know that I never heard about it until I started my spiritual sojourn. I adopted this belief too, because it makes sense. But like the subconscious mind, there is no proof it exists, and adopting this belief is disempowering. Why?
Because now you have this nasty aspect of yourself that seems to have a life of its own. It seems to be intelligent and sentient. It has self-preservation, a strong desire to exist, to live, and it will do anything it can to continue its existence. This is that part of yourself that you have to disidentify with. You are blocked from awakening, from enlightenment, from the feeling of oneness, from an experience of God as long as you have this illusory aspect of yourself, and have not been able to move beyond it.
You read the words of those who have had experiences that moved them beyond it. People who have had what are called moments of grace. People who, on experiencing something, become enlightened and are thrust beyond it. People who have died then come back from the dead. But the rest of us mortals are stuck in a fierce struggle with an opponent that doesn’t even exist until we adopt the belief in it!
For me it is beginning to feel like people are purposefully putting obstacles in my path, hoops for me to jump through, and I can’t help but also feel that it shouldn’t be this hard, that it should be far easier, that there is no need for all this extra garbage, which is getting in the way of me and whatever it is I am moving to.
I think this is the problem. If we resist something, by denying its existence, by running away from it, we give it power over us. But if we adopt something, embracing it, taking it in, that also gives it power over us. One of the things I learned in the confusing world of non-duality teachings is that non-resistance is the key. Neither bringing in or pushing away. You acknowledge the existence of a thing, you let it exist or not exist, but you, personally, do not adopt a belief in it or fight against a belief in it. In non-resistance a thing is allowed to pass through, and as it passes through, it can have no effect, because nothing in you resists.
I have said before, and still believe, that bullets do not kill people. It is the body’s resistance to the bullet that kills someone. Think about that for a minute. It makes logical sense. A bullet enters your body. It may strike a bone (resistance) or an organ (resistance) or at the very least tissue (resistance.) The instant the bullet connects with anything whatever it connects to is damaged, and the more resistance, the more damage. So if a bullet strikes a bone in your back, having entered the front, depending on the kind of bullet it may bounce around inside you, causing additional damage.
But if a bullet entered you, and nothing resisted it, and exited you, with nothing resisting it, then you would not be harmed. Any damage caused by a bullet is caused by the body resisting it, and the more the body resists it, the greater the damage. A coffee can, shot through you, does a heck of a lot more damage than a bullet, because the coffee can has more resistance to it! Which is why physical bodies, hit with cars at high speed, or falling and hitting the ground from a great height, are such a mess afterwards.
Now how do you apply this to spiritual teachings? I mean few people, if any, can make their body non-resistant to a bullet. It is not practical. This example is useful only as an example, not a practical exercise. Maybe someday, years from now, humans will be able to control their physical structures like that, but until then, this illustration helps us understand how we need to be when it comes to things we do not desire, things we do not want.
That we can do, and it is far simpler. We hear a teaching we do not agree with. Instead of defending our beliefs, or going on the offensive, we do nothing. We allow the words and the one speaking them to exist. We acknowledge their existence, but remain indifferent to it. We allow others to believe and speak as they will. We just don’t let it get to us. We genuinely, deep inside, have no feelings whatsoever about it. Other than maybe we do not agree. But it is not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing. It is a matter of choosing to apply or not apply.
It is like selecting fruit. You go through them, find the ones you want to eat. You don’t through the ones you don’t want on the floor. You put them back and allow them to remain there. Because maybe you don’t want them but others will. Likewise you don’t violently attack someone who steals your fruit. Because you know you can go back over there and select more. You are not emotionally invested with the fruit. That is the key.
I picked up the fruit of the ego and the subconscious mind. I was about to go through the checkstand and purchase them. But now I am thinking I want to put them back. I no longer want to adopt these beliefs. More importantly to me, I do not want to teach others these beliefs either. If any Christians, on leaving their faith, come to my teachings, I would like them to be as free of belief structures as possible. I don’t want to introduce new belief structures for them. All that accomplishes is exchanging one religion for another.
It also occurs to me that things exist only because we believe in them. We bind ourselves, and our children, in the beliefs of our culture, religion or society. Nothing exists that you do not believe in! There is no ego for you if your current belief system has never given you that belief. There is no subconscious mind either. To believe in these things, to bring them into existence within your personal experience, you must believe in them. You must have faith in them, subscribe to them. Otherwise you do not know about them, so for you they do not exist.
Maybe there is an ego. Maybe there is a subconscious mind. But what if there is not? What if all that really exists are just the beliefs in these? If there is a possibility of existence, there is a possibility of non-existence, because our world is dual. For everything we believe exists, so exists its opposite. Why teach about something that may not exist? Why complicate the spiritual path? If you can not prove the existence of something, and can not say with 100% certainty it is real, why say it is real, and promote a belief in it?
I am setting an intention, right now, in this moment, to get rid of all extraneous belief systems, and to keep them out of my teachings, as much as I can, from this point on. I don’t know if I can do this, or how I can do this, but I am setting an intention to do so anyway. I will not burden those who read my words with additional belief structures, especially those that do not empower. I may share what I believe, when relevant, but I will make an effort to remember to qualify such statements. The main thing I think is to stop stating these various beliefs as truth. I had enough of that as a Christian, and I don’t want to do that to anyone else.