I find it interesting that those who profess to be spiritually awake are often just as asleep at the wheel as people who don’t have a clue that they don’t have a clue about life. Spirituality encourages direct contact with God; yet, without a disciplined commitment to self-awareness, seekers on the road to truth may miss the turn for humility and veer off toward arrogance.
I came across a thought-provoking essay by Hugh Prather about this phenomenon. Hugh discusses the role of the ego as it relates to the spiritual path in the context of the A Course in Miracles teachings. But his observations apply to spirituality in general. Here are some excerpts:
The day you started your spiritual path, your ego started it also, and for every spiritual motive you have, there is an ego motive as well. This is not reason to be afraid, but it is reason to be more aware.
Those individuals we know intimately who we believe are close to being awake, seem to have no interest in contrasting themselves with other people. Generally speaking, they live simple, ordinary lives. They are comfortable if not restful to be around. Their time is usually devoted to unimportant things and their hearts to “unimportant” people. They have no inflexible concepts or rigid patterns and there is nothing particularly unusual about the subjects they choose to talk about or anything outstanding in the personal mannerisms they exhibit. They are easily pleased, and often they are happy for no apparent reason. Because their own egos are no longer destructive, they find other people’s egos amusing and endearing. Above all, they are equal and familiar. They would not be good subjects for a magazine profile. And yet, into the mundane, everyday circumstances of their lives, they quietly pour their comfort and their peace.
We realize that nothing is more selfish or separating than thinking that you, personally, have a higher approach to life than most other people. How could one person’s way possibly be superior to another person’s way if God is leading us all?
It’s ironic that individuals with strong spiritual beliefs often have larger egos, are more rigid, are more unconsciously judgmental, and are more uncomfortable to be around than people who have little interest in pursuing mystical, religious, or metaphysical teachings. Those who value the concept of oneness often lack the desire to feel oneness and equality with anyone.
Ironically, those who think they have the smallest egos usually have the largest egos. The self-proclaimed “seekers of truth” often have personal superiority as their unconscious agenda and end up convincing themselves that they have attained it. Those who think of themselves as normal, ordinary, and equal, and who are quite aware of their many limitations, simply are not tempted to believe that they personally can discover a spiritual truth that other people are unaware of. And yet, by definition, that is what a “seeker of truth” believes.
Awakening is not joining with some shining concept in the sky. It is joining with each other. It is lived and expressed in the hundreds of small encounters, errands, and tasks that fill each day. Only instant by instant do we choose to see our sameness, our equality, and our oneness with others. Only by loving do we wake to Love. Only by extending peace do we wake to Peace.
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