Understanding - spirituality

Getting Ready for Change
 
For many people, the word 'spirituality' brings about an immediate negative response, and the whole topic just gets shrugged off as some hocus-pocus religion or some other new-age hippy belief.

This is understandable, but it is a terrible shame because spirituality should be embraced, not rejected; it is actually misunderstood to the real detriment of all.

Sometimes confused with 'spiritualism' which is concerned with ghosts and the paranormal, spirituality also contains the word 'spirit' which reminds people of religion.

In fact, spirituality is relevant for everyone whether you are of faith or no faith and whether you believe in spirits, ghosts and the paranormal or not. This is because spirituality is a word that encompasses the most basic and fundamental questions - existential questions - questions that modern society would rather brush under the carpet so that we can concentrate on movies, TV and celebrities.


Those interested in the topic 'spirituality' ask questions like 'who are we?' 'why are we here?' and 'what is our purpose in life?'. The 'spirit' that spirituality refers to is the spirit of who we are. 

Spiritual people also do not just ask such questions, but make a firm decision to live consciously (awake) to the reality around us by actually investigating and finding out the truth of things through our own actual experiences, and never believing anything anyone tells us just because someone has said that it is so.

For example, we are taught in our society by everything around us that it is the external that will make us happy, and yet experience tells us this is not true. If money and all the things it can buy made us happy, why do so many Hollywood film stars end up in rehab or killing themselves?

The problem with organised religions is that they were literally 'formed' by founders who fully intended to live in a society whose norms promote misguided morals. These people have literally selected texts and teachings that can be interpreted to support a faith in something external and out there providing us with the love to feel completely happy; yet how many religious followers are thus glowing with constant happiness, joy and spreading unconditional love?

This absolutely does not mean, however, that the teachings of religious figures are without value. The teachings found within each religion have extreme value when they are not being interpreted to fit into a social structure but are instead taken for what they actually are - proverbs - words of wisdom and guidance based on real experience.

Around 500 BC, Siddhārtha Gautama (the Buddha) was teaching his wisdom to the people of India while Confucius was teaching the people of China. There have been many historical figures who have devoted their lives to guiding us on the true reality and nature of things, and only a select few have since become the figureheads of today's institutional religions.

The religions were formed long after their deaths, but the actual wisdom that all these people shared comes from from one universal truth - a path of conscious living that, if followed, will bring unconditional happiness to us all. Just like wise proverbs, their advice has been spoken, repeated and passed down for millennia, but unlike proverbs that may be repeated but never acted upon, all genuine spiritual teachers past, present and future tell us that we must act upon their words if we are to experience this universal truth for ourselves.


There are millions and millions of people all over the world today who believe in this universal truth, and the number of people is ever increasing as more and more people experience the profound awareness and happiness from actually practising the teachings of spiritual teachers rather than just intellectualising their words but doing no more about it.

Some of the many people past and present who have gone on to share what they have learnt and greatly inspired me on my journey include: S.N.Goenka, Michael Anthony, Susan Jeffers, Matthew Johnstone, Deepak Chopra, Alan Watts, Osho, Eckart Tolle, Julia Cameron, Jacque Fresco, Diana Richardson, Neale Donald Walsch, Isabel Losada, Esther Hicks and Michael A. Singer (click on a name to read more).

The message that all these people are sharing is what is important, but the one problem with all of the above is that trying to make sense of all the information given by all these people seems so very complicated and daunting - it certainly seemed that way for me when I first started investigating their teachings.

To my mind, the biggest problem with all these spiritual teachers is that they are helping overcomplicate something that is actually so very simple!

Even Jesus condensed all the teachings found within the Bible into one memorable explanation: Love your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And love your neighbour as you love yourself. "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40)

Eventually it became clear to me that all the information on spirituality is saying exactly the same thing, and all the quotations out there, and the articles, the audio tapes, and all the books that fit into the topic of spirituality are just making it seem so unnecessarily complicated. Eckart Tolle, for example, has managed to write several books on the one point that we need to live in the moment now, or Esther Hicks has written endless books on how our focus whether positive or negative shapes our reality. Their popularity also creates cynicism about their motives. Are they writing endless books to get people to finally understand what they are trying to say or are they just trying to make book sales?

Perhaps most importantly, this amount of information just encourages a detrimental mind game within ourselves in which we keep seeking more and more information that teaches us, for example, the importance of living in the moment now, but we never actually start doing it.  One guy once criticised me online for oversimplifying spirituality, but I see now that one cannot simplify spirituality enough. The underlying message that all spiritual teachings share is extremely simple!

All spiritual teachers use different degrees of complexity to pass on 3 simple teachings:

1) be unconditionally compassionate to ourselves
2) be unconditionally compassionate to everything else around us
3) live fully in the present moment now

Everything else taught by spiritual teachers is really just extra topping - a vast collection of varied information on how and why to practice these 3 teachings, but if we all just got on with doing it, we would no longer need to refer to all the articles, the quotations, the audio tapes, and the books - for we would all already be experiencing the universal truth that comes from (what I call) 'being a buddha'.

Be inspired ♥


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