The Spiritual Life – August 26 2020

The Spiritual Life – August 26 2020

“How am I to start upon this process of true self-knowledge?”…You have to change, first of all, the line of thought and faith which pleads helplessly: “I am a weak man; I am unlikely to rise any higher than my present level; I live in darkness and move amid opposing environments that overwhelm me.” Rather should you engrave on your heart the high phrases: “I possess illimitable power within me; I can create a diviner life and truer vision than I now possess.” Do this and then surrender your body, your heart and mind to the Infinite Power which sustains all. Strive to obey Its inward promptings and then declare your readiness to accept whatsoever lot it assigns you. This is your challenge to the gods and they will surely answer you.

Paul Brunton,

The Quest, 

Volume Two,

The Notebooks, p. 166


What is the difference between someone who is living a ‘spiritual’ life, and someone who is not? 


In some ways, not much. We all, at times, behave the same way. All of us have ‘character defects’ that come to the fore when we are frightened. We take care of ourselves at the expense of someone else. We over-eat or over-work or over-medicate in order to not feel our feelings, and the people around us suffer by our absence, be it physical or emotional. We get tired of giving and insist that it’s time someone give to us instead. We become short with the people nearest us, speaking to them the way we speak to ourselves, not giving them a break, not cutting them any slack, not allowing them the space to be human. 


All of us at one time or another behave in a way that makes us feel less than proud of ourselves, that makes us look at some aspect of our character that still has room for growth and refinement. 


This is true for all of us, whether or not we think of ourselves as living a spiritual life. What then puts us on one side of this equation or the other?


It is simply that if we are living a spiritual life and find ourselves ‘acting out’, we will take the time to step past our own defenses and excuses, and we will take responsibility. We will disallow ourselves from putting blame on others, and we will own our own behavior without shaming or berating ourselves, with eyes clear and heart open. We will insist on knowing ourselves as we truly are–expressions of the Divine, of nature–and recognizing our behavior as simply a perfectly human moment; then we will do the work to see how and why we got here and how we might be able to avoid getting here again. 


By owning our behavior completely, we become able to change it. By knowing we are pure spirit, having a physical experience, we become willingto change it.


And also, one final thing: to live a spiritual life requires that I develop a sense of humor about the whole thing and about my place in it.


Today I will insist on taking full responsibility for all my behaviors–“good” and “bad”–without beating myself up for my shortcomings; and when my thoughts try to convince me to do otherwise, to put the blame elsewhere, or to hurt myself with the blame on me, I will thank my ego for sharing and then move on to the work of learning yet once again and on a deeper level exactly how I might become a more loving presence in the world.

White Orchids, large format film, Studio City, CA