For reasons shared previously, I don’t enjoy writing about spirituality using the word “spirituality”. It’s fraught with misunderstanding… hocus pocus and religion. But there is something simple and legitimate at its core – I see it as the following:
Spirituality, in short, is embarking upon the never-ending journey to understand who you are and why you do everything you do.
Doesn’t need to be any more complicated than this. If you are one of the few who are get this – great. If not, consider a very quick appeal.
Spirituality’s Dilemma: “Enlightenment”
If “spirituality” didn’t have enough baggage, here comes its partner in crime – “enlightenment”. (shudder).
So you’ve avoided the snake oil, and you’re on “the path” – reflecting deeply on who you are, what you do, and what you want in life. Now what? Is spirituality becoming a major part of your identity? Are you enlightened yet? How would you know? What’s it supposed to feel like? Can you get an enlightenment verification or something?
My Spiritual Terminus
After a full year being curious about these kinds of things, I am now several months deep into not caring anymore. This feels like the healthiest place to land. Yes – my view on life and attitudes toward everything, have changed drastically. Yes – changes are still underway. Yes – it seems this evolution continues until our final breaths. But I no longer care that this is getting me somewhere specific. Is this enlightenment? I have no idea, it doesn’t matter.
I am writing this simply to memorialize this, both for my sake and anyone else who might be trying to find their footing after experience a wave of insights, as I did.
I want to share a letter I wrote, 6 months ago, when this really started to crystalize for me. I wrote the letter to one of my favorite authors on this subject. I chose him specifically, because he insisted repeatedly in his writing that nobody “needed” him – that – anything he said was merely a pointer – nothing more.
I just wanted to follow up and say, the book was wonderful. I finished weeks ago, and have simply been letting the ripples in the pond do what they do.
The book helped me see this process has been underway for some time, recognizing a small glimpse happened nearly two decades ago. What is occurring today is simply clearer abiding by it.
There are facets of this that still seem mysterious, and I’m amused by the various contradictory discussions around what “nonduality” is… but at the same time I feel relieved that I can continue relaxing into whatever this is, without perfectly reconciling my experience with other’s.
I suppose my next frontier is to rediscover my place in the world, more aligned with this blossoming perspective. But this too feels like a relaxing endeavor, as opposed to anything urgent or essential.
Sometimes, the absence of an impeller feels bizarre, but also, the space it creates is nice, and I feel, there is nothing at all to do.
His response, which, I could not possibly be more grateful for:
Beautiful, Jay! I’m so glad the book was helpful, and that you are “relaxing into whatever this is, without perfectly reconciling my experience with others.” That’s perfect, just keep going, and if you ever feel the need to talk, I’m here.
For what exactly? For being here. For landing here.
Each of us has to try and figure life out for ourselves. This is extremely hard. It’s extremely hard to find the courage to ask the question — “what’s it all about?”, or even know to ask it — never mind finding the answer. It’s too to easy to get swept up in life — distracted and amused by millions of things that are happy to grab us.
Along the way, if we do question things, we are extremely vulnerable. But on the other side of all that vulnerability, a deep and incredible comfort awaits, that lasts and lasts and lasts.
This question used to linger in my mind. Now I’m not so worried.
Which is exactly why I’m writing this. It’s a milestone – not that I woke up today and suddenly thought this, but that the concern has been absent from my life for several months. Great.
Life, here forward, is simply accepting and marveling at what is. Still aspiring to create, journey, learn, explore, of course – but knowing it’s all pure bonus for however long this show goes on. Everything is already OK, after all. Always has been. Any inkling that it’s not is simply a call to return to the question, why not?