One of the big parts of the spiritual path is that we find out how much we didn’t know about ourselves. The arrogant ego and the victim ego that didn’t think we had problems or that we could somehow overlook and avoid them must be dealt with. Until we have the humility to go inwards and to occasionally solicit external help, we are living in places of ignorance.
Ignorance on the spiritual path is much more common than people realize. It’s because a lot of people are trying to use spiritual feel-good moments to gloss over the inner dis-ease that we feel. So in this way, this so-called spiritual path is nothing more than a distraction, and because this isn’t an uncommon way to approach spirituality, it’s probably why a lot of you have a pretty cynical, skeptical, and out right disdainful view of the “spiritual” path. But as many of you already know, I’m not taking you down this blind path. I’m pointing you back to where the path has always been–inside of you.
People have this awful idea that ignorance is bliss. So let’s take an example: drinking. Lots of people willfully ignore the extremely toxic properties of alcohol, and they go on merrily thinking they’re having a good time. When you’re young, the body can compensate. As age sets in, the penalty for doing damage in this way grows and grows for the body, and this doesn’t even mention what alcohol can do to relationships, especially as alcohol is abused. So ignoring the truth of what alcohol does causes and perpetuates pain and suffering, and what’s worse is that many people think that this is an okay or normal way of living. The levels of illusion and delusion are immense, and consequently, many people have no idea about the level of pain and suffering that they are daily living in. This is what I mean by the title “What You Don’t Know About Yourself.”
As a consequence, it’s easy to think we don’t have problems or issues. We’ve become master magicians at hiding our flaws, issues, and whatnot. We’ve become masterful at further deluding us and cutting ourselves off from ourselves so that we are so ignorant that everything seems fine for us and it’s just the world’s fault for not playing by our rules. Ah, but if you have come to this blog for the first time, it’s time for all that to change.
Removing Drugs and Unnecessary Foreign Substances
We live in a society that is increasingly self-medicating itself with all kinds of substances. I regularly get questions about foreign substances in my inbox, and to be succinct about the topic, until we clean out our bodies and detox, drugs and alcohol need to go. The path of embodied spirituality is to maintain a clean and healthy body. I’m not even talking about all the crazy stuff going on with food these days. I’m just talking about top-level issues that we all already know cause altered states with varying levels of toxicity to the body. So that means cigarettes, alcohol, hard drugs, non-necessary prescription drugs, marijuana, and just about anything you may be using to feel good. If your body, heart, and mind don’t feel good on their own without help, then there’s a problem (Keep in mind mental health illness and medication is an exception, although I know some on the spiritual path who would debate that).
So this is the first step. Because you can’t really hear yourself and start to get to know yourself when you’ve still got so much junk in your system.
Fasting and Food Awareness
As you go, you’ll probably discover all kind of nutritional deficiencies in your body, depending on how poorly you’ve been eating. Fasting is one way to re-set the clock, and I would encourage you to do some research on this to find a fast and an amount of time for fasting that is appropriate for you. Furthermore, we’ve fouled up our natural tastes and body responses to food so badly that we confuse unhealthy foods as being ones that we want and healthy foods as those that we don’t. It’s taken me some time to re-teach my body that vegetables are really good, but let’s be serious. It’s probably the other way around. It’s taken my body some time to re-teach me that vegetables are really good for me. Consequently, as you get cleaner in your body, you will be clearer and clearer about what foods make you feel good and what do not. That continues to become easier and easier to notice as you practice and pay attention.
That’s what getting to know you is all about after all: paying attention to you.
Listening to the Noise of the Mind and Heart
I’ve blogged quiet a bit about mental noise, but in the context of this post, I’ll just say that a noisy mind is an untended mind. It’s like the garden outback that you haven’t weeded. There are still good crops growing out there, but they’re overrun with vines and thistles. You need to start paying attention to this space within you. A noisy mind is no one else’s fault, but you.
The same goes for an upset heart. All of these spaces are within your immediate ability to influence, but for many of you, you’ve never done this. You kept waiting for the world to make you happy. But the world is a capricious place, and putting your love and emotions in anyone else’s hands is a recipe for disaster. When we love ourselves completely, it’s only natural to love others, and if someone shares love back, that’s wonderful. If not, that’s fine too. As we learn to reside in love, we are not beholden to what others think, feel, or do.
Building Space to Notice You
People have all sorts of excuses to not create time and space to go within. This is part of why we don’t know ourselves, and in not knowing ourselves, we have no idea why we create the same problems over and over. So many people feel like they’re going around in circles. If this is the case, this is a great sign that you don’t know some things about yourself. As I said, the world is the world; it will do as it will do. We have no control over it, but we do have influence over how we guide our lives and what circles we create in our lives. Creating time to meditate, journal, or reach out for help from a spiritual teacher, healer, psychologist, or a dear friend can be the first steps to really finding out who you are.
Discovering You Don’t Know Yourself
For most of us, we come to points (usually many of them) of surprise when we realize that there was something about ourselves that we didn’t know. This can make the ego feel dismayed, but it is actually a time of great success. It is the growing of your inner light bulb of awareness. If everything is in darkness, you have no reference point to realize that you are in darkness. When a little light bulb goes on, now you have some perspective about your life. That perspective is like a beachhead for you to advance further. All the while, humility is key. You may find many dark and nasty secrets about yourself hidden below. You may suddenly realize how out of integrity you’ve been with yourself and others your whole life. A good deal of self-love and compassion will also be needed as you dive more deeply within to bring the light to every corner of your soul.
Humility and Working with a Healing Practitioner
In my line of work, I connect with many people who still have too much pride to hear what I say. I often say things that sound so wrong and out-of-the-box to the ego that they just assume I have no idea what I am talking about. In short, many sessions I have are with people who do not yet have the humility to realize that they don’t know a lot about themselves. While I won’t go into the motives of why they reach out to me for a session, I would simply point out that whoever you work with that it’s important to have humility. Listen with an open heart and mind. The more open you are, the more you can hear what resonates within you, and since many of you have no idea how to listen to your intuition or what that sounds like, you’re going to first practice withholding judgment. That practice alone will be invaluable throughout your life.
Because withholding judgment creates space. It creates space for people and events to unfold. It creates space for truly rational thought so that you aren’t instinctively responding from your ego-programming. So some criticizes you, and your normal response is to say something bad about them. Wait. Pause. Find out if there is any truth there in what they said. See if it feels like this person is just having a bad day. See if you’ve been resisting some part of the relationship for so long that this person could only get your attention by lashing out. This kind of mindfulness starts to transform relationships.
Loving Kindness in the Unknown
In the end, it all comes back to loving kindness. There is so much in the world that is truly unknowable. We don’t have to be part of that. While even the mind, heart, and body have mysteries that we may never unravel, there is so much that can be unraveled inside. In creating that inner clarity, life around you begins to reveal itself to you in brand new ways. It is so extraordinary to be alive, but until you look within, there is so much you don’t know about you. You will very likely continue to manipulate yourself, manipulate others, and be manipulate-able because of this level of inner ignorance. It is why there is so much pain and suffering in the world. Most people have no idea who they are, what they want, or where they are going, and as a consequence, people perpetuate suffering and magnify pain. It doesn’t have to be that way. And it starts with each person making a conscious choice and a consistent, dedicated effort to go within.