What Does It Mean To Grow Spiritually?
September 27, 2010 by Akemi Gaines
As I wrote in Spiritual Development Paradox, I have had a growing doubt in what we call “spiritual development” or “spiritual growth”. We’ll get down to the point zero today (As always, my spirit guides helped me figure this out, but I am writing in my regular style rather than jotting down our conversation like I did in the linked articled above.)
So what do you think spiritual growth is all about?
I did a little research to make sure I cover the ground. On the internet, most of the top sites on spiritual growth are Christian sites. By reading them, I figure Jesus himself said nothing about growth or development. It’s Peter and Paul who made big deal about it. Look at the glaring contrast here:
Jesus: Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
Peter: Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. (emphasis by Akemi)
Jesus didn’t put down sinners. If anything, he comforted them to feel better again. (Too many anecdotes to quote here, such as the woman who was about to be stoned or the tax collectors.) But his followers twisted his teaching and changed it to a moral system that encourages effort, control, and perseverance — in short, “spiritual development”.
What is there to improve?
A common understanding of spiritual growth is “to be a better person (spiritually)” or “to be the best person I can be”.
As noble as they may sound, these statements (just as St Peter’s quote above) assume one preposition, that there are good (better, best) qualities. As opposed to bad.
In other words, they are all based on judgments.
And in my opinion, judgments are the first and last thing you want to be free of in your spirituality.
Judgments are made by the mind. When we judge one quality as good, others automatically become bad. And we start worrying, afraid and anxious, with the sense of guilt and shame, like Adam and Eve after eating the fruit that made them tell good from evil.
From there, all human dramas and agonies arise. One tiny seed (or a bite) of judgment growing to dramas of the minds, reinforcing the illusion of separation more and more.
To me, spirituality means to be free from all these craps. Spirit over mind. So calm the mind and be free from the compulsive thinking.
Who are we, to begin with? We come from the Source and are already connected to the Source. We are beyond good. If anything, we want to remember this original state.
There is something fundamentally silly about trying to improve something that is already complete and perfect. I also sense hypocrisy — to get followers, religious teachers had to make people believe there is something wrong with them.
When you buy into this judgmental thinking, you get caught up with hierarchical thinking. I am telling you from experience. Sure, I intended to be kind and fair to everyone, but as long as I believed in any of the judgment calls such as “awakened souls” “ higher vibration”, I had to gage where I stand in the measurement, resulting to either feeling superior or inferior to others. This could be a very subtle or even unconscious process, but it’s there. You cannot be free of self-judgment when you make any judgments.
So your personal relationship gets tainted with all kinds of judgments. No one is quite your equal — they are either ahead of you or behind you. You are hardly facing the person — you are facing your judgment of the person.
And now I say — forget it. Spirituality is about seeing divinity in ALL people and things. Zero exceptions. The homeless guy, your mean boss at work, the teenager with tattoos and pierces all over … everyone.
And isn’t it a wonderful feeling! Life feels so full of love, finally. (Speaking of love, do you sense love in Peter’s quote, even though he mentions it? Do you feel love in Jesus’ quote?) (By the way, I am not putting down St Peter. No personal agenda here. I just want you to see the difference for yourself and he offers such a great point of reference.)
Joy, joy, joy!
To be completely honest with you, I am not 100% free of judgments — yet. It’s a process, and those sneaky little bits of judgments creep back now and then. And when it does, my mind wants to notice and condemn it. In other words, it wants to play the game of judgments. Whew.
Even now, however, I can attest how light, free, and joyous life feels these days! It doesn’t matter what I am doing. It’s all “good”– the kind of good that has no opposite. It just is. It’s not weighed down with any meanings or attachments. And everyone I meet is interesting and kind — or so it feels. They just are who they are.
I don’t care any more if I achieve more Ascension or astral projection or whatever. If something comes along, great. If not, great. I just live it.
I am convinced life is meant to be lived this way because it feels so wonderful. I want to skip around like a little kid! Gee, wish I could still do somersault. Or how about dancing like Shiva?
Some of you may be thinking this way of free and complete acceptance is just a lazy way of life. We need to beat ourselves up to succeed, right?
To that I say, f*** it. Successes, just as failures, are just illusions in this virtual reality life game. There is another chunk of hypocrisy about driving people to deny the joy that is right here and now in the name of future success. Many personal development teachers use this hypocrisy.
I am so happy to be “nobody”.
You are a spiritual being having physical life. As a soul, you are already complete and perfect. If growing spiritually means anything, it is about remembering this truth. So it’s not really about “growth” — you might call it “spiritual remembering”. (Thanks to Stacey Mathews for joining the discussion on FB and suggesting the term.)
When you remember, you also remember the unconditional love, the same quality of love God has for us. It frees you from the hierarchical world view and enables you to see people, things, and events just as they are, only to find they are wonderful.
Spiritual growth is not about strife, guilt trip, avoiding punishment, and all other nonsense we have been led to believe. Or, to put it in a way that may sound paradoxical, all the spiritual growth / development leads to the realization there is nothing wrong to begin with. This has been my experience (I was so serious about personal development for many years) and I believe it is the path for many.
Related post: If you like this article, you might also like Enlightenment Is Not.