The following will be a description of the religious/spiritual experience, according to my own experience. None of the levels are better or more “advanced” than another, for there is a continuity which needs to be divided only for the sake of understanding and the limitations of language.
The label “religion” has a connotation of “faith and beliefs.” At this level, we may have a belief in god, the virgin, saints, prophets, saviors, gurus, angels, extraterrestrial beings, beings of light, etc. There is always someone “higher” than us, humans; who are ready to perform “miracles” or specific actions to help us in our lives in exchange for nothing. Thus, we ask them for salvation, redemption, favors, miracles, etc. Typically there is someone in those religions who has access to those higher beings, or there is a belief that this is so; while the rest, the believers; will use them to intercede into that. A religion has a body of beliefs which are referred as “truth.” Those beliefs are indisputable and require the follower’s full agreement. “Blind faith” is typically the phrase used to refer to this stage.
Such follower may have a code of conduct or behavior which aligns with current values of society, which are known as “good deeds.” Such performance is encouraged by their faith, and according to their belief; become the “measuring stick” of those higher beings to concede special favors to the followers. In that way, societies will support religions, as they are guided by the same recognized basic values.
Later, “Spirituality” came as an offshoot of a religion. The idea of worshiping “higher beings” is placed on a lower level if ever, and the value of particular beliefs known as “truths,” is downplayed. What matters here is the experience of the participant and not how much that participant follows the structure. Spirituality then grew into many avenues and was accepted by the masses as an alternative to worship. The rigidity of a religion was transformed into over flexibility: Use it as it best fits you. That attitude brought a new fashion in style: The spiritual seeker, the one who jumps from flower to flower searching for something “special.”
Out of the many “spiritual” paths, we could recognize two distinct but complementary paths: The one recognizing the importance of subtle energies ( the ones embedded in chakras, kundalini, vibrations, third eye, etc.) and the other which brings the element of inner observation, awareness. These 2 particular paths are not concerned with deities or worship of anyone. There are no particular beliefs to follow, although some may import rituals, gurus’ words and even worshiping practices from the previous stage. However, the main element to “study” is the self.
Observe the shift: From the “others,” the gods, the higher beings into looking at the self. The journey could be put into a nutshell: From worshiping others into self-realization. That shift may take many years if not many lifetimes, but it is bound to happen, when the seeker is ready.
Generally speaking, religions are not concerned with inward study, although there may be rare exceptions.
When a person perceives subtle energies, that person is concerned in exploring their own atypical experience. At the end, they may realize that everything is “energy,” including what we know as “I.” Those without this experience, but however open minded; who have already gone through many “miles” of the journey, will become acquainted with studying the self through their own observation. It is important to mention that both paths are truly complementary of each other, for a person with high awareness will be able to perceive subtle energies and vice versa. When this level hasn’t been reached, then a person following the path of energies will perform exercises, mudras, mantras, chakra cleansing, etc. as another belief system which in turn will help that person to run away from the important item, to know the self.
Similarly those following the path of observation by itself, will be limited by their own findings. Sooner or later they will need to go deeper inside their inner subtle energies, to “advance” the level of their awareness. This occurs through outside help from another, usually of those who are in tune with different healing modalities. For instance; when there is observation of an emotion, there has to come a time when we recognize the energetic value of it, and how that could dissolve. That is a learning adventure in itself.
Finally, the journey will go from “self-realization into no-self and thus, Totality, Onenes.” The inner changes are dramatic at this stage. As there is the experience of suffering of the “I,” for everything which gave us a form of identity, will go away. That has been labeled as “Dying alive.”
Interestingly, those “higher beings” worshiped at one time, may become the teachers and guides to help those who are ready, to cross the seldom walked path of the enclosure of the “I.” That may be “true” Salvation after all.
There are monuments for “war heroes.”
It is country A fighting with country B. Each one has its heroes, those “who will be remembered for years to come.” Most heroes are famous for fighting, killing the “enemy” in war.
Life works through “cause and effect.” There is no room for human reasons as to who is “right or wrong.” A person consciously killing another will experience the consequence of that action. No matter how many pretty labels we may use to cover that action. No matter how many beliefs we may have in “protecting our freedom,” or how much we believe that “God is with us.”
Patriotism is insanity. Chauvinism is sickness. It is violence through the exclusion of others. It is a search of personal identity through the collective consciousness. It is the herd mentality in action. A truly spiritual person does not have a flag in his heart. The world is where he belongs.
Anyone killing on the name of “god,” has no respect for their own God. Executing someone on blasphemy charges, is to go back to the dark ages. The “true” meaning of a word is in the feeling behind them. Most, talk without it.
The staunch followers distort teachings, for they lack sensibility. Those are followers looking for respect by imposing fear, violence. Respect is naturally earned. It is not something that we could push into another.
The human race displays violence everywhere. It is important to be able to discern when a cultural tradition is no longer serving a higher purpose, the common good; but rather becomes a source of further violence.
Our society teaches through suppression: “Don’t do this. Don’t say this. Don’t think that.” That is a violent teaching as we impose our values onto another.
We seldom observe those beliefs. You see, this idea of trying to change another on what we consider “right” for his “own good” is more violence in action.
When a person is given the chance to observe and evaluate his own beliefs, he will find out that his own Life is defined by his cultural conditioning. When that person is ready to walk away from this conditioning, that is the time when the room of his consciousness is empty and ready to receive newness. Without this emptiness there is no way to pile newness on top of something old; for then this newness will only be accepted as a continuation of the same old thing.
Unlearning is the way to learn newness.
How do we unlearn violence?
By being frequently in touch with our inner space, our inner peace; that is when the outside artificial busy noise and the inside chattering of the mind are not. That creates sensibility. It is through this “newness,” how we are able to walk away from violence without trying, without thinking about it. It is like a magnet, attracted to that silence, to that new found sensibility. There, we are not repelling violence. Simply, there is no compatibility with something which is not in the same frequency.
While being in Nature, we may feel a connection, a link. As this link strengthens, the cultural pull of noise diminishes. Secluded in walls and cement, we become used to noise and cement. The first step of courage is needed to start the journey. Life awaits.
In society we tend to allow ourselves to be defined by others. Most have a label, a definition to describe us. Our tendency is to live in a predictable way. That belief may need to go away.
Undefined, unpredictable, dangerously unexpected… Society is afraid of that person. He doesn’t fit in.
Beliefs will keep us defined. When we live to fit a definition, we are living in the safety of being confined just like a flock of sheep; safely waiting for the shepherd to take us to new pastures, an incapable of doing that ourselves.
Beliefs serve a purpose, a particular timing in our lives. Once the time is up, those need to go away for newness to follow.
As long as there are beliefs, our consciousness will be located and influenced by the mind. The mind is a repository of experiences which have been recognized, labeled and used to make sense of “life”. Nevertheless, that “life” is only the reflection of traditions, teachings and traumas of the collective consciousness which will have lasting influence on the individual.
Basically, there cannot be newness while trapped in the mind. There is repetition, there is a false sense of security of “knowing”, which will not allow us to look further into what IS.
The atheist who converts into Christianity after having an “after death” experience, will have a change in his Life. That is the bottom line. It will be the complete opposite of what he previously rejected. That is the mind in action. Moreover, the tradition of what is known as “God” may be affected by a well known religion (Christianity) which he was familiar with. A Life experience is only meant for the one experiencing it. End of report. However, most take this opportunity to enhance their ego and make out of this an opportunity to show how extraordinary they are. A “chosen” one.
“God gave me this experience so I can be a testimony and lead people into his way.” That is “pure” ego in action.
The mind has a belief. The mind has interpreted an experience. The mind has labeled that experience and made it something extraordinary, especial. Then, the field of beliefs is open: God is this or that. He has chosen this one or that one. He will come back to make sure his kingdom is alright, etc. It is extraordinary to observe how from an individual experience, we could make a religion.
The atheist and the believer are at the same level. Their minds took them there. There is full reliance on that conditioned mind, that is what we may need to realize.
Life has many ways to change the perspective of people. For the ones anchored in the mind, rationality and logic; an out of this “world” experience will be necessary to change them. For those way “out there”, something worldly will be needed to balance them. A seeker will need to go through the full range of the experience, the “yes” and the “no”; to “know”. That teaching is experiential, that is why it cannot be told to another so they also “know.”
Beliefs are not bad. Those are tools to gain further consciousness. The tool is not the “thing” to obtain; but while in the mind; we could debate, fight as to which tool is the “true” one. Then, we want to use “science” to prove if the tool is “true.” We are missing the point.
There are many types of consciousness, but the collective consciousness, the one with the “buying power” is an infantile one, and so the journey is just beginning for them.
As we mature, we will observe that spirituality is based on our own self understanding, our own self observation, our own self acceptance; for there is an opening in that which liberates the person from the conditioned mind. We can make that clear distinction. It is the experience of that freedom, what we may long for.
In that realm, beliefs are not necessary. Free from beliefs, we ARE.
Living in society will bring us some sort of perceived security. A sense of purpose through having a laid out path to complete. We believe that our laws, moral values and “virtuous” living are compatible with higher order.
We believe in working hard to achieve whatever our minds tell us. That is whatever we believe. We live in the world of beliefs. Just achieve. Compete with others if they are in your way. Show them who the best is!
Look out for you and then for the extension of you, your family. “Help” others when yours are OK and have plenty, enough to “give” what is not needed.
Most of all, remain busy. Do things for an objective, a goal. Go to school, then college, get married, have kids, get a house, a car, a couple of pets. Get busy! Save for retirement, then you can ‘relax.’ Most of all… “Be happy!!”
We only understand “get happiness.” Something out there will give me that. I have to keep trying.
In a nutshell, that is the brainwash. The castle built out of “pretty” words. The belief that happiness is to comply with the conditioning.
Likewise, our “spirituality” will be based on that brainwash. There is the goal to achieve: Heaven, god, eternal salvation… Plenty of objectives.
There is the “family” of the “chosen ones.” You are part of it, if you just believe. There is plenty of help to give to others to “save them.” That “good action” will get you brownie points with the “Father,” the creator: God. Then you can ‘relax’ for eternity. Here in society, you work hard to get something for yourself. Over there, for the “spiritual” world, you do the same. We cannot ‘relax’ until we work hard first, right?
Isn’t it that “as it is above, it is below”? That phrase is used out of context. As we wake up, we will realize.
Awakening cannot be for everyone. There are many who rather live in the land of “make believe.”
Awakening is not an easy process. It is not a walk in the park.
It hurts, it disappoints, it hits you against the wall until “you” die. Once you are dead, then you are alive. Logical isn’t it? But it is no longer “you.”
When we are used to eating only chocolate in Life and we feel safe, how are we going to try another flavor? Only when Life offers us vanilla and not chocolate. That is a change of consciousness. Chocolate goes away and our fear to starve gets in the way. Our attachment to the known will not allow us to try something different. When we taste vanilla, we “know.” We become satisfied to taste another flavor and can appreciate chocolate from another perspective, another consciousness.
Awakening is like that. However for most, awakening is only about “understanding” the flavor of vanilla and reading plenty about it, getting certified in vanilla, but never had the opportunity to taste.
When we are ready to leave chocolate, vanilla will come and then chocolate will be gone, and we will “know” that there are many flavors in Life, many ways of looking at Life, many ways of living Life. Otherwise, we believe that Life is only chocolate!
Consciousness is not depending on us and our efforts to “achieve,” as society has conditioned us. So ‘relax.’ Consciousness is our link with Life itself. It happens. Just like Life itself. It happens. All we have to “do” is become AWARE of it.
Life is like a huge container. It is so big that there are no limits.
Humans have mentally gathered into a small glass of water, to place limits. There, images are created: A car, a house, a job, fame, fortune, health, beauty, power, immortality…
Humans have divided themselves under countless labels as to make the game of “achievement” harder. It becomes a “fight.”
Those images of achievement, become the “purpose of Life.”
But Life is more than a belief in images, greater than a small glass of water!
As a person matures; to become entangled in that game is considered to be sound and “normal.” However, no matter what is “achieved,” there will be un-fulfillment.
Do we know why?
More images will be created. It is never enough. “Achieving” one image is only the beginning into “achieving” another.
Our minds are conditioned to see “Life” under the perspective of “achieving images,” ghosts of conditioning.
We live as if death will never come. When it arrives, a trauma is created; fear arrives and the mind desperately looks for something to hold onto: A belief. It has to preserve the game of achievements: Eternal heaven, to be an angel in the kingdom of God, etc. Stuff that we are used to, because after all, we believe to be the center of the Universe.
We are so naïve.
Life is so big, but to us; very small.
Our “realities” are only images, dreams.
Our achievements are only busy work. Entertainment for the mind; just like watching TV.
Where is the light?
Learn to play another game.
When “right” changes, it becomes “wrong.” But everything changes, thus; “wrong” will become “right” again.
Something that looks clean, is bound to get dirty. Even though someone may clean it consistently. That cleaning is needed because it got dirty.
Therefore, why do we equate clean and dirty with “good and bad”? Why do we have that idea in our minds?
Some believe that sex is “dirty.” But they don’t see that only something that is “clean” can become “dirty.”
Our generalizations, our black or white beliefs, our emotional investments in religions, spirituality, philosophies and politics that can only see one side of a thing; is prevalent. We live in the mind, not in Life.
The “problem” is not the world. The “problem” is the mind of the observer.
Because we cannot be observers, tourists in an ever-changing reality; we cling to labels and ideals that we believe should be unmovable in time. That is an illusion.
Chasing the illusion of “changing the world,” we don’t allow for ourselves to change, because we believe to be “right.”
We believe “right” is something that cannot change.
We believe to have the “truth.”
Belief upon belief. Opinion upon opinion. We don’t live Life.
We only think about it.
We want strawberries out of Life. We dream about them. We believe that “achieving” strawberries in Life will make us happy and fulfilled.
Life offer us lemons instead. Why don’t we make lemonade?
We are stuck with our belief in strawberries. Unable to bend our position to observe things from a different perspective.
Look! Someone has strawberries and he is happy! I want that for me. If life doesn’t offer that, bitterness is the “side effect” of that trauma. We feel unhappy, unfulfilled. What can I do with lemons, for god’s sake!
A “best seller” on how to achieve strawberries will be made.
“Achieving” strawberries or lemons will not make us fulfilled in Life. It is the experience of enjoyment of Life experiences what will bring fulfillment.
Lemons by themselves may be too bitter for some, not for all. Taste them to know. Open up, so the possibility of mixing lemons with something else arrives. Lemonade is such a refreshing drink!
The dream of strawberries is only a dream. If that dream becomes a reality, it doesn’t mean that fulfillment has arrived. We are looking for fulfillment not strawberries.
Shall we wake up from the dream of living Life through dreams?