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Old 04-20-2012, 09:43 AM   #3367
Chaos Technician
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Aethyr Engineering

Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: 4th dimension
Posts: 43,375


How is a "Spiritual Person" Supposed to Act?

Finally, spiritual misconceptions can obstruct spiritual progress. First, yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as spiritual progress. Like anything else, as you practice, you get better at it -- and not just in terms of brute skills, but in terms of observable changes to the mind, and maybe even the brain. In my experience, that progress is a lot like making progress at the gym. If you do the work, it happens at its own pace. You can't rush it, but you needn't supervise it either. From what I understand, meditation increases the neural activity in the pre-frontal cortex, leading to more connections and more "strength" for that self-regulating part of the brain. That results from doing the work, not hoping for certain results.

As a result, you may be doing just fine, even if you don't (yet) feel different, and even if you haven't bought any Yanni CDs. "What's wrong?" you might ask, "I'm doing all this work, but I still get pissed off at my mom!" Well, sure, welcome to being human. Maybe, over time, you'll notice that your anger lasts for less time, that you're less immediately reactive, that you pick fewer fights (or take the bait less often). But that may be all you can hope for. Meanwhile, the practice is doing its work, if you just stay with it in some form or another.

For what I'll call karmic reasons, I'm sincerely appreciative of the many delights in the world, and as Lou Reed said, "for me to miss one, would seem to be groundless." I'm also mindful that spirituality that doesn't include some form of serious social/political engagement is, at least for me, empty. So I get involved in things that will necessarily invite some anger (politics) and lust (food and sex), even though these are problematic on several spiritual paths, including my own. This karma -- by which I mean the social constructions of my particular Western subculture, which seem as much a part of 'me' as anything -- may well be holding me back from further advancement. But it's the karma that there is. And each time I re-ask whether it wouldn't be better to give up the fleshpots for the cloister, I hear a clear, humanistic No in response.

Let's set ourselves free of this idolatry of the spiritual life. The spiritual path has far too many manifestations for us to be reductive about it, and far too many directions for us to subsume them all into one. Just setting these clichés aside may be a significant step toward freedom.
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