Some people who seek to live a “spiritual life” create very unreal ideas and a lot of pressure about what that means. Some of those ideas include:
– “If I’m living a spiritual life, I will never get angry.”
– “I will always be peaceful.
– “I will always be happy.”
– “If I’m in shit, it’s my own fault.” (Most people say “karma” insread of “fault” and intend a good deal of self-blame).
– “Money is Bad.” (Capital “B.”)
If you identify that you’re spiritually sabotaging yourself in this way, give yourself a break and checkout these more realistic and self-forgiving ways of experiencing life as a spiritual being.
1) Conflict is a natural part of life: How you deal with it determines your spiritual level of awareness. We cannot always give people what they want. And we certainly can’t always do what others expect. And friends, family, and colleagues will often not act as we expect. Instead of avoiding, seeking to manipulate and control in subtle ways, we can choose to clearly say what we mean and feel. We can do it without speaking with anger or antagonism. Speak softly and clearly and say what works for you and what doesn’t. And accept that it may not make the other happy. But you will stick to what you value and what feels true and right to you. Conflict helps us to grow and test our abilities. Also sometimes people will only understand anger as a response to something they’ve done. Sometimes I fake being angry to get my point across so that they will know not to repeat an upsetting action.
2) It’s okay to get angry. In fact, it’s natural. If you feel angry and suppress it or try to pretend you’re not angry, then you may explode later on at someone else or turn the anger on yourself. HOW you choose to release the energy of anger is what will determine if you’ve mastered yourself or not. Anger is often related to not getting our desires met. If we recognize our desires and can eliminate them this is great. But desires, too, are natural. Our attachment to a given outcome can create a lot of anger if the result is not what we want. If the attachment to the outcome and the desire for it can’t be eliminated, seek to become conscious of the anger as it arises and well before it hits someone in the form of nasty words or physical violence.
Drink cold water and walk away from the place where the anger arose. If you’re conscious of the anger, do as one of my teachers does. She feels the anger arise, allows the energy to rise through her body, and lets it release itself naturally. It feels like a helium balloon rising and dissipating. She lets the powerful energy move through her, understands that it’s trying to move her in some way, and once that energy passes, she then calmly addresses the situation. Beautiful! But don’t deny the anger. Recognize and release it. Punching pillows or yelling in the car when no one else is around are great ways to release that energy without hurting anyone.
3) Money is energy. It can be used for good things or it can be used to destroy and harm. If it’s used to take power over others, to consume more than what is needed, to abuse resources, then this is not an ideal use for it. How you use money will determine if it is “bad” or “good”. Use it for good works, for helping yourself and others with no strings attached, and experience the joy of it. Use it to try to control others and use it as a tool of power over to manipulate others and the results will only be negative. The choice is yours.
4) You’re not necessarily in shit because of your karma. You might be. But it may also be true that you’re in a tough situation because it’s a way your spirit has chosen to help you to grow and learn. Being in challenging situations helps us to see our inner strengths and weaknesses. If you’re maxing out your credit cards and have serious money problems, then this is immediate cause and effect — or karma created by you in this life time. And you’re learning the negative effects of excess. If you’re having unprotected sex and you get an STD, then the karma is pretty immediate and clear about how the action directly impacts your health. And it’s a learning experience indicating it’s time to change.
But there’s a common mis-perception that spiritual life, and making a conscious effort to lead a spiritual life means that you’ll be guaranteed a bed of roses. No more pain. No more anxiety. No more anger. Only peace and goodness and happiness forever. But this view of a spiritual life is false. Sathya Sai Baba used to say, “Life is a pleasure between two pains.” Life is filled with grief, loss, betrayal, suffering. It’s also filled with beauty, joy, pleasure, kindness, love, and compassion. We live in a world of duality and it is through pain that we know pleasure. Through hate we know love. They are two sides of the same coin. This is the nature of life. Your life may become easier as you choose to live by spiritual values and follow your inner guidance.
Copyright, Debra Moffitt, July 2015. No portion of this blog post may be copied or reused without written permission of the author.