Saturday, October 21st 2017

A personal question for the present Crisis: Who are you spiritual for, anyway?

Are our motivations for action spiritual or messianic?

prayDAVID RICKEY  Russell Bishop, on HuffingtonPost,  lists seven signs that the new millennium is becoming more “spiritually focused.” He lists movies and movements from The Secret to Kabbalah, trying to demonstrate a type of third great American “awakening.”

Let’s look at another progression. In 2000 we (at least some) were afraid of a computer meltdown. When it didn’t happen, we breathed a collective sigh of relief, only to watch the Twin Towers almost literally melt down on 9/11/2001. The fear and the puzzlement grew but was overcome by an excessive patriotism — it was scary for any of us who were asking the serious question, “What did we do to cause this?”

The decade was a roller-coaster.

What appears to be an increase in spirituality, may then, from a different perspective, really be an expression of the desire to be rescued from an overwhelming sense of doom and gloom.

In addition to movies like The Secret there are the movies like 2012 which focus on impending disaster. The collective psyche is not as clear about where the world is going.

2012movieIn reality, we went after Bin Laden and Al Qaeda and then Saddam. The Stock Market rose to new heights. There was a kind of edgy optimism. We were going to be able to climb out of this one. But there was also the ongoing threat of terror and the underlying anxiety of “what next?” And then we elected Obama amidst the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Now let’s look at Russell Bishop’s “signs.” I want to divide them into two sets. The Secret, The Shack, and The Lost Symbol in one set and “Kabbalah,” “yoga” and A New Earth in the other, with What the Bleep Do We Know?, straddling the two.

The first set, all movies (I know, but just wait, I’m sure Dan Brown has already signed the movie rights), speak to our need to find meaning and order. The Shack and The Lost Symbol speak of an underlying order that can be trusted and even manipulated when understood. The Secret more literally spells out the principle in “the law of attraction.” If we just understand more clearly how the world works we can avoid the disasters that keep us anxious. We can find peace and meaning.

“Kabbalah”, yoga and A New Earth make a slightly different claim: “We have work to do.” These also speak of an underlying order but call us to do deeper work on ourselves in order to align us with that order. Overcoming our ego-driven minds and opening to the deeper wisdom that is available to us — the “still small voice” that can guide us to happiness and even prosperity.

“What the Bleep” gives us more clues in quantum physics terms. It’s not as “preachy” but teaches us to think differently about the reality we inhabit and hopefully change our behaviors with this new information.

spiritualityGoing back to the original question – “Are we more spiritual or more messianic?” — why is this dissemination of wisdom being consumed so avariciously now? I think we are indeed becoming more “spiritual”, but for the wrong reasons. We are anxious, we are unhappy, and we feel out of control. So we rush to find an answer that tells us something larger than “I” is in control.

It’s rather like the sales pitch of the prophets of old, “You’d better get on the right side of God before the whole thing is destroyed!” Much of the “spiritual” movement is about making “my life” better.

An example of the problem can be seen with the election of Obama. For many, he was the Messiah who was going to save us. But we’re not happy with the “recovery” so far, and we’re not at all happy with a proposed health care system that might inconvenience us, even if it offers more help to the poor and the sick.

Obama’s Messianic gloss is wearing off. We want a Messiah that will rescue us, not one that will make demands on us to be more charitable and compassionate.

How many people do yoga or study Kabbalah simply for self-improvement? How many people read A New Earth only to figure out how to make their life better for them? What the Bleep demonstrates how our thoughts and actions affect the world we live in. When you combine that understanding with the techniques found in Kabbalah, yoga and “A New Earth”, then you might understand that you are not here for you, but for the whole of creation.

egokissYou find inner peace so that you will stop playing out your turbulence on the world. You shift your center of consciousness from ego to world and recognize your true purpose as living for others, not making the world a safer place for you.

I think we are, in fact, being given a major dose of spiritual teaching. Not from the novels and movies so much as from the teachers – Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, Caroline Myss, and Ken Wilber, to name my favorites. But we need to do the work to dethrone our egos.

One of the primary teachings is “It’s not about you”, and until we learn that, I am afraid we will just take the teachings that are offered and use them as best we can for our own benefit. Quantum physics demonstrates that everything is connected, that we are each and all at the center of the universe — we are all one.

This understanding moves us to true compassion. The spiritual teaching will only help us if we stop waiting to be saved by it and learn to live by it.

David Rickey is an Episcopal priest, Soul’s Code co-founder and counselor in San Francisco who does a weekly ministry at a residence for the elderly in northern California. Follow David on Twitter.

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4 Comments on “A personal question for the present Crisis: Who are you spiritual for, anyway?”

  1. That seems to always be the paradox regarding religion and now spirituality. Are we trying to be better people to help ourselves, to get into heaven, or to make the world a better place? Are our actions created out of fear, or out of hope and love? Thanks David for raising these issues that we all need to think about. I have a feeling the 2010 is going to be a crucial year for all of us.

  2. A very good post. I am spiritual for myself ie. it is my belief system and philosophies I employ as a guidance system for myself as it makes me happy and keeps me on track on my purpose of enjoying life ♥

  3. Does being for or against anything fall within the realm of spirituality? Does even thinking of one's self as being spiritual or not spiritual apply to true understanding of our natural already present state.

    A burning question, "What is it that is common to us all that is beyond such distinctions?

  4. I like what Teilhard de Chardin said: "We are not human beings on a spiritual journey but spiritual beings on a human journey." The distinction, then, is one of consciousness. Do we consciously life as spiritual beings? Or do we use "spirituality" to further our human lives?

    David Rickey

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