The other day my mentor GD mused, “In the past, people worked from 9 to 5, month after month, to buy a fancy car; these days they just try to manifest it using affirmations and visualizations. So things are not that different! We have simply found more clever and subtler means to fulfill our desires. It is not wrong in itself, but is it really spirituality?”
This is a question I have asked myself for many years too. Today, we have a plethora of healing tools and processes on the planet to upgrade our life experience. As a lifelong process junkie, I have explored many of them myself, but I have wondered: is this spirituality?
Spirituality, in its purest sense, is the quest to find your true nature: who am I?
However, in Eastern tradition also, the scope of spirituality was not limited to sitting meditation and self-enquiry. It embraced physical mastery like yoga, tantra and t’ai chi. But the goal was always to transcend body, sexuality and the world. It wasn’t in order to get ‘killer buns’ or ‘a bodacious booty’. And an attempt to manifest a new chariot would probably have come under the realm of sorcery.
The quest for happiness is innate in beings. And the attempt to find it through persons, objects and experiences is natural. The difference is that in its original definition, ‘spirituality’ begins where this search ends. As the outer begins to be questioned, the inner becomes relevant. Today, perfection of the outer often becomes the goal. The focus – instead of being on the question ‘who am I’ – is on ‘what I want’ and ‘what I need’. And tools for ‘abundance’ are never used to attract an abundance of awareness or emptiness.
The tricky part, which took me years to understand, is that dismissing these tools of manifestation and mastery would be throwing out the baby with the bath water. We are fortunate to live in a time when more powerful energetic tools for healing and transformation are available than ever before. I would recommend anyone who is unfamiliar with this treasure chest to explore it and transform their life – there is no glory in living a stressful, conflict-ridden lifestyle. But time and again, do pause and question: are the dreams you are seeking to fulfill through these spiritual tools really yours or just advertising-fuelled consumerism?
Don’t justify a quest for material abundance as an affirmation and celebration of Life. Celebrating the world is not clinging to the world; just as owning a forest has nothing to do with enjoying a forest. And I’m not suggesting real spirituality needs renunciation. You don’t need to become a monk and sell your Ferrari – just keep in your garage, not in your heart.
The mind is always searching for that one practice, insight, technique which will give it control, security and happiness-without-sadness. And whether it is getting a new job or a new-age practice, neither seems to finally deliver it. This, to me, is the awareness that is at the heart of true spirituality. Fulfilling personal desires is not wrong, but whether the tools come from Harvard Business Review or Higher Entities, I see that they are amazing, but question if they are spirituality.
At some point, the focus must shift from polishing the persona to transcending the persona. Healing and bodywork must go beyond the vain pursuit of a perfect body. And even meditation must evolve beyond seeking repetition of a higher octave of pleasant experiences. That is the real miracle worth manifesting.