It’s my genuine belief that if people allow themselves to just be, then we would all naturally grow spiritually. It would simply be how we engage with ourselves and with life. We’d grow in the same way that our bodies grow. They naturally come into their appropriate shape, albeit some people have genetic diseases that are part of their physical expression.
However, we do not embrace spiritual growth. Instead, we learn to hold onto pain and conform to ideas of who and what we should be. This leads to tremendous amounts of pain, fear, anger, resentment, shame, and depression. People feel so much pain that they numb themselves, and then no one likes being numb. So we then over-stimulate ourselves with a variety of experiences and substances to feel again.
But all of that suffering can go away. When we are sincere on our spiritual paths, we can return to our natural spiritual growth.
Those of you who awaken feel like you’re on an enforced march at gunpoint to this growth, but if you do not embrace this opportunity, you’ll find a spiritual plateau. A spiritual plateau is simply a stable level of energy where you can hang out at. For those who do not have the intense opportunity of a spiritual awakening, you can come into your natural spiritual growth rhythms just the same–perhaps easier in some ways since you are more actively choosing it. In this space, we grow and shift and change naturally. We engage with the shifts, but we do not have to force anything. In this way, we are at peace with our spiritual growth even though there may be uncomfortable and upsetting moments.
I know this sounds a little far off for some of you, so let’s talk about the journey inwards to our natural spiritual growth rhythms as well as what that feels like.
Initially, a lot of people are stuck. They’re mired in whatever energy level they’ve become accustomed to, and most people don’t even know it. This is the depth of darkness a lot of humanity resides in. It is when we don’t know that we don’t know. This is also where many people say things like, “ignorance is bliss.” It is a fundamentally flawed statement because there’s no ability to distinguish bliss from pain when everything is dark. In this way, many people who awakened realized that they’re in no bliss at all. They’ve simply been too numb to understand how much pain they are in. This is why many people feel like a spiritual awakening is torturing them. They wake up, and they find out that they’re living in a shattered body. The process to mend all these bones and organs seems like too much work, nearing on impossible. So in their continued ignorance, they want to go back to their ignorant and numbed out slumber. But the damage doesn’t go away when we can no longer feel anything. The damage only worsens, and there are far worse things that can happen to you in that space of ignorance than in the light of awareness.
For those who realize ignorance is self-destruction and not bliss, then your journey out of stuckness begins. It doesn’t matter if you’re awakened or not, the conscious journey–the journey of growing and consciously letting go of your issues and wounds–is the one we all must take to walk the spiritual path. It is not all bliss and roses on this path, but it is a deeply freeing path. We become free to have our whole human experience of physical sensations, emotions, thoughts, and intuitions. We are no longer limited in what we can have on any of those levels, but in opening up to those new levels, we have to grow. We have to learn how to be with them all. That’s how we begin to leave behind that feeling of being stuck.
The Cycles of Healing
The cycles of healing can be many. It tends to be the first step and second step and fifty-third step of the spiritual path. All those wounds we discovered now have to heal. You don’t learn to run on a broken leg. You have to set the bone, and then you have to rehab. This is simply how it is.
As you heal more and more, the beauty of the spiritual path and the opportunities it opens up to you become more apparent. Depending on the person, this happens later or sooner. But even as we realize how much we don’t know and how much beauty and love we can experience, deeper core issues tend to linger for some time. They generally want to hide out, and it takes a lot of intense loving light to find them and burn them out. Many of them stick around for years simply because we are that deeply invested in them. Core issues revolve around safety, needing to have a romantic partnership, and others. Fortunately, the deeper you go in your healing, the more energy you have to go into your growth.
A Natural Metaphor for Spiritual Growth
Think of spiritual growth this way: a little apple seed sprouts. When it first comes into the light, it doesn’t need a whole lot of soil, light, water, and nutrients. As it continues to grow and is no longer confined to the seed, it needs more and more space. It starts to run up against other rocks that weren’t an issue at first. It bumps up against other plants and trees as it continue to grow into its natural shape. Hidden issues are illuminated, and impediments that otherwise never would have troubled the seed become serious problems to the growing tree. This is one of the interesting aspects of moving into our natural growth and becoming “bigger” people.
Spiritual growth really shows you that life will continue to hold both challenges and opportunities no matter how long or how sensitive to life you become. Spiritual growth is not the easy way out, and it is also not inherently difficult. It is simply you growing, discovering what is true for you, and being you. In this way, growth is inevitable, and it has times of rest as well as harvest.
The Timeless Self Still Sees All
When I talk about spiritual growth, I am honoring our human aspect. I am honoring all the parts of us that live in duality and are working in the world of separation. The timeless Self that we all are–that space of oneness–continues to embrace all of this. We are neither closer or further away from it as we grow spiritually. This is a really important point to impress upon you. Many people think that their spiritual growth is bringing them closer to this timeless Self. It does not. Spiritual growth is a way to enjoy our lives and to follow our soul’s path–the path that matters most to us to walk. When we aren’t embracing spiritual growth, we are typically trying to do what others are telling us to do.
Yet, even when we aren’t embracing spiritual growth, our timeless Self is still here. It embraces stuckness, delusion, hatred, and self-inflicted suffering. It never doesn’t do this–if you follow the double negative here. In this way, we all are always connected to the Self and always have access to this level of awareness. So as you grow spiritually, try to think of spiritual growth more as following your heart and joy rather than attaining a “perfect” level of awareness. We all are already at this level of consciousness and can never be cut off from it.
The True Self Speeds Spiritual Growth
Ironically, the more we allow ourselves to be and to see from this space of clarity–which we all can do–the more easily we see where, when, and how to grow spiritually. This is what I call going inside out.
We go inside to remember that connection that we already have. When we remember this reality, it is clearer about how we want to grow in this life and where we need to heal to continue our growth. A lot of times, people find a lot of confusion in themselves, so the encouragement is to continue going inwards until you are clear. Look at the fears and beliefs that come up that are making you feel unclear. Breathe into them. Feel how committed you are to them. Aside from feeling physical fear because a grizzly bear is about to attack, most fears are mental. Beliefs are entirely in your mind as well. If they are bothering you, it’s because you believe in them. So pause. Practice breathing into these ideas, and see what happens the longer you sit with them and the confusion and mental havoc they’re trying to create. Because without your continued belief in them–which is how you energize them–they will die. And you’ll be clear about what is real.
Expanding Past Your Ideas and Your Relationships
Many of you know about leaving old ideas and old relationships behind. Depending on the “tree” you’re growing into, you may be leaving even more as you continue to grow spiritually. Spiritual growth re-shapes how we think and how we connect to others in amazing ways even if you’ve been on your spiritual journey for a long time.
When people first wake up or start walking their spiritual paths, letting go of ideas seems life or death. The more mature person realizes that ideas serve us, and dropping useless ideas becomes natural as you continue to grow. There’s no need to conform to a non-existent thing that doesn’t help you.
The same goes for relationships. As some of you grow into your natural abilities and roles in this lifetime, many relationships will dissolve. New ones can then step in, but this doesn’t necessarily happen easily. You always have to stay engaged with life as you discover what you are and how you most naturally want to express yourself in this life. Some of you will have large roles to play out, and as such, many people won’t want to be birds sitting in your vast boughs. Some people may want to chop you down, but this is not a space of martyrdom. There is no need to let others inflict damage on you, and so you set mindful boundaries–sometimes quite firmly–to protect your human self.
I know this may sound a little different than how other spiritual teachers talk. We often say that there is nothing to protect, right? But this is why we go inside first and then come out. The more at peace you are with yourself, the more clearly you’ll know if you want to endure the pain and lessons of a toxic relationship. Usually for most of us, we don’t want to allow someone to hurt us, and that means we keep letting go while welcoming in those people who offer kindness and support.
Continued Spiritual Growth
It can be quite surprising for some of you how you keep finding deeper issues after having done lots of inner work. It’s not to say that you won’t even finish that kind of work (because you do), but spiritual growth is very intelligent. Your soul knows how and when to grow just like your body knew how and when to grow when you were a child. If you’ve truly matured, you don’t lose sleep over another spiritual shift. It’s the same way you didn’t get upset that you were outgrowing your shirts again. You understand that this natural and normal. How long any shift goes is also unique to each person, but at this point, you’re at peace with it. You know that no shift lasts forever, and this isn’t just a mental knowing. It’s an embodied knowing. Even when a shift is particularly upsetting, you simply keep going into it and breathing into it, taking whatever time you need for appropriate self-care.
No End to the Spiritual Journey
Those who are deluded and confused about the spiritual path may be looking for an end to the journey or some goal like “total enlightenment.” I don’t know what that last term may mean to you, but I simply point you back to the timeless Self that we all already are. That is total enlightenment. It is not something to get to. It also is not separate from the human experience, so whatever you are experiencing right now is part of that total enlightenment that accepts all of human experiences. I know that this hard for some of you to believe. Those who seek an end to the spiritual journey are seeking a magic pill to make all human pain go away. But that is not how this world is. So long as we live in this beautiful and amazing thing called a human body, there will be pain, and there will be growth. We are pretty much stuck with the former, but for many of us at least initially, we have to choose the latter. The more we choose spiritual growth and engage with it, the more we continue to grow. And our little apple trees, pear trees, plum trees, and other types of trees can then naturally grow and flower and one day bear fruits to nourish the world around us.