Very often, there is a pain that draws a person to the spiritual path. It’s usually something that other means of resolution have failed to resolve. That means the self-help books haven’t worked. The therapists haven’t helped. Friends and families suggestions have been no good. Maybe medication was tried, and it too failed. So many people land on the doorstep of a spiritual teacher hoping to finally resolve this issue.

However, many of the issues that grab people’s attentions are not core issues. They’re surface-level issues–issues that are clearly visible but their origins are hidden. Substance abuse is one such surface-level issue. A whole series of experiences and beliefs build up to draw someone towards abusing a substance, but these tend to get forgotten. When someone tries to heal from substance abuse, there is a tendency to think that that’s the main issue at hand, and while it can be quite serious, there are other things beneath it that caused it and reinforce it.

Furthermore, when many surface-level issues get resolved, people often think they’re done with their inner work. This leads many people to quit the spiritual path right when things are getting going and when they still have so much more to heal and learn about.

On this topic, I felt like offerings some thoughts on the importance of going beyond the first issue to go deeper.

The Fire Is Out, Check the Electrical Wiring

Imagine that a fire got started by bad electrical wiring. When the fire is raging, we call firefighters to help put out this first issue. It’s an important step just like resolving substance abuse mentioned earlier. But it’s only a first step, not the last one.

The wise individual decides to go deeper to find out what really caused the fire. So they call an “electrician” to check the walls and investigate what is going on with the wiring. If they do that, then there’s a bigger mess to be made to get to this level of work. This messiness often scares people. It scares some people to tear out the “walls” of their ego home to get to this wiring, and so it seems a lot easier to presume that there is nothing wrong with the electrical wiring. They then presume that the “fire” was a fluke, and since the fire is out, they decide that they are “fine.” They’ll maintain this belief until the next fire is ignited by the same faulty wiring.

Permission to be a Hot Mess on the Spiritual Path

Because the deeper issues remain unresolved, people have backslides into substance abuse, over-eating, over-working, domestic disputes, and every kind of issue you can think of. They didn’t resolve the deeper issues, and so the old behaviors continue and create serious issues.

Stuck in Repeating Issues

Quitting spiritual inner work after only resolving an initial issue leads people to recycle the same issues over and over again. It’s frustrating and exhausting. Yet, many people won’t inquire further despite having to deal with the same issues again and again. Most people just want those surface-level issues to just go away. In this way, any interest in spirituality is only superficial. They only care about what it can get them, and they presume that they know what should happen and what they want. They do not care about spiritual freedom. If they think they got what they wanted, then they’ll plateau or quit the spiritual work until the next disaster.

How to Break Out of Repeating Issues

For example, many people struggle with their body image. They’ll diet, starve themselves, do crazy workouts, and whatever else they think will get them what they want, but once they achieve the weight or body-shape they desire, they quit a bunch of these changes. They return to their old habits and patterns that created the body issues in the first place, and soon enough, their body is unhealthy again.

To be clear, some of the examples I just mentioned ARE NOT healthy. But the ego self will have people do crazy things like self-starvation to achieve a body weight. So the insanity of the ego extends to a lot of “solutions” that it’ll try.

Perhaps for some people, spirituality is considered one of those “crazy” things, but a lot of deep healing is possible through the true spiritual path. It’s simply that most people don’t really want true healing nor have the willingness to go deep enough to discover just how sane the spiritual path is.

Returning to Inner Work and Quitting Again

More than a few people get into the same type of relationship with spiritual work that others have with dieting and other such tools. They’ll meditate for awhile, and then things will go well. Then they’ll quit. Then things will stop going well, and they’ll go back to meditating. This bouncing back and forth is so common. I hear this story ALL the time. It also achieves little. As I said before, the person is not really inquiring deeply. What little self-inquiry someone does when they are of this mindset is totally ego-serving. They just want life to play nice with them. But life isn’t nice. Life is, and the ego rarely wants to accept life in its totality of beauty and horror.

If this is describing you, dedication is the elixir you need. You also need a willingness to look within and to embrace the good and the bad, the light and dark. No one can escape themselves, and the way out of this trap of quitting the spiritual path is to accept that whatever is going on within your mind, heart, and body is going on largely because of your choosing with the exceptions being things like disease and true physical ailments.

Spiritual Awakening and the Distressed Ego

Many people have spiritual openings, experiences, and awakenings of different kinds, and they disturb the ego. They illuminate problems with the ego, and that can create or rather show all kinds of pain that the person is already in. Since many people are unprepared for these spiritual discoveries, they want the discoveries and definitely the pain to go away. They are still so identified with the ego that they think the spiritual path is the problem.

Some people will turn to a spiritual teacher in hopes of getting things back to “normal,” but ego-normal is largely unhealthy. The truth of the everyday depth of delusion people live in is too much for most unprepared egos to handle. Nonetheless, some people do a little with the spiritual path to try and calm things down, get things they want, and then quit or plateau as soon as possible.

Spiritual Sticking Points and Why People Like Being Stuck

The Deeper Layers and Deeper Spiritual Understandings

Any deep understandings of the spiritual path are to be found through going within and sincere dedication. Many people like to collect concepts, and more than a few will find a few “spiritual” ideas and presume that they completely understand them. Without inner clarity and peace, the ego happily incorporates “spiritual” ideas into all kinds of half-truths that become utter nonsense and absurdities.

Take for example the truth that “we are love.” Well, what is love then? The undeveloped spiritual person thinks she knows what it is, but she does not. But she likes the idea. So the idea becomes merged with a general hope that she’ll always feel good (which is not something bodies do), and then it morphs into the idea that everyone else can and should always feel good. Now we have a feel-good missionary who is probably telling everyone how they should feel love all the time and confusing the crap out of a lot of people. This goes on all the time.

Truly understanding that we are all love is a powerful thing, and it holds space for the enormity of both joy and pain in the universe. It is understood by going within and embracing deeper levels of pain, confusion, doubt, fear, terror, hate, and more along with the joyful and blissful feelings that reside within. This inner work cannot be avoided if we are to truly understand a spiritual truth and not just give our ego new ideas to twist and pervert.

Expansions and Spiritual Growth

Much further along, a person can discover whole amazing realms of spiritual expansion and growth. These rarely show up with just putting out a fire/resolving a first issue. There’s generally no space for discovery at that time because the person is usually far too distressed to do much of anything but deal with the fire.

With dedication, they put out one fire, and they’re calm enough to handle other issues going on inside of them like the electrical wiring metaphor. To be sure, pulling out the wiring of a house is a lot of work. This wiring means things like someone’s beliefs. The ego guards its beliefs like they are sacred, but they are not. Furthermore, there are deeper things like the plumbing (let’s let that mean emotions) and the structural supports of the house (the body issues). A person who is too triggered cannot handle that deeper stuff when triggered.

But when they have learned to put out fires and pull out ego wiring, suddenly a whole new world of deeper inner work is possible. Additionally, there becomes room for a person’s energy to naturally expand and grow on its own into new levels of spiritual understanding.

Spiritual Growth and Discovering New World of Expansion

Don’t Quit, Get More Support Instead

The overall message of today’s blog post should be clear: don’t quit. If you feel like you want to quit or that you’re done with the spiritual path, get more support instead. All quitting will do is to keep you trapped. You’ll just run through the same types of scenarios again and again, and whenever that happens, that means your ego is at work. It’ll be the same familiar misery taking you no where, and until you are really ready to get off that miserable merry-go-round, it won’t stop.

But it can stop, and there are infinitely more amazing spiritual discoveries and expansions awaiting the sincere spiritual person. So keep going, and get more support whenever you think you may be close to quitting.

Sabotaging the Healing Process and Running When it Gets Tough


I'm a spiritual teacher who helps people find freedom from suffering.

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