The title of this spiritual blog post should make it obvious where I am going with this.
You can’t skip steps on the spiritual path.
But people sure do try.
One of my more favorite attempts at avoiding stuff is the “oneness” ego trick. The ego hears that there is nothing it can do to get closer to oneness. We are already one. Therefore, it believes that intellectually understanding this spiritual truth is enough. The ego doesn’t investigate itself further nor all the attachments and illusions it has. That’s all part of the oneness, right? So what difference does it make if you have a spiritual practice or not?
There’s a litany of problems with this thinking, and one of the central issues is not appreciating the nature of human beings in how we change. Another is confusing intellectual understanding with spiritual realization. Those two are very different.
And while I could go on for some time about why that one ego trick is completely deluded, I’ll just carry on about the problems and ways people try to skip steps in general.
(You can watch a video at the end of this post to get more thoughts about oneness and duality on the spiritual path and greater clarity about the oneness ego trick I just mentioned.)
Human beings live in a world of change. This must be honored. At the same time, we learn to honor the truth that we are all one. This paradox gives the ego endless problems because it doesn’t like things that seem to be completely different to be completely true at the same time. But as I often say, this is not a problem with reality; this is a problem with ego logic.
That generally means that a spiritual path unfolds for us through inner work, discoveries, and transformations of many kinds. Additionally, this path has unique qualities for each person. Learning to acknowledge your own unique path is important. While there are a lot of commonalities in experiences that people have on the spiritual path, there are important differences to honor as well. The result is that each person develops in their own way, and a big part of the spiritual path is learning to understanding your development and how to honor it.
When people don’t do this, they try to apply different spiritual techniques and beliefs that worked for others with the idea that they should all automatically work for themselves. This is skipping the step of knowing yourself and what you truly need on your spiritual path. In ignoring yourself in this way, you’re skipping a step that cannot be skipped. This leads many people to being perpetually stuck.
Not Liking Your Path
Many people want some clear guaranteed path rather than the ambiguity of the true path inside. Additionally, many people want their paths to go a certain way, but who decides what way it should go? The idea that it should look or be a certain way comes from the ego, and when someone identifies with those beliefs about what spirituality should look like for them, they often may not like where their path ACTUALLY takes them. This conflict with a person’s ego and spiritual truth makes a lot of people look for ways to skip steps.
What does skipping steps look like?
- Avoiding issues
- Working on issues or with tools that you are already comfortable/familiar with
- Deciding that you are done with an issue when you are not just because you’ve worked on it before
- Resisting change
- Resisting slow progress (the spiritual-workaholic wants to get to the goal now!)
- Not appreciating enjoyable moments (some people see progress as only relevant when it is difficult)
There are lots of ways people try to skip steps, and they don’t work.
Getting Lost, Stuck, and Confused
Any way that someone tries to skip steps on their spiritual path, they will likely get lost. People get stuck and confused as well, yet more than a few people manage to delude themselves about how they fell off the track. That’s when the ego tries to justify where you are. It says that it didn’t backslide at all. It says that it is not yet time for something. It’s amazing all the ways the ego will take spiritual-sounding words and try to justify the way someone skipped important things on their path.
The way out of this ego muddle is to be honest.
Again and again, self-honesty is critical. We have to be honest about who our ego is and all the tricks that it may try to do. I spend a lot of time with people peeling away lies just to get back to the things they already know about themselves. And most of the time, people do know how they got lost and confused on their spiritual paths. This then leads to humbling realizations about what they avoided.
Humility, too, is a critical part of the path. It doesn’t avoid anything. It accepts the spiritual path as it unfolds, and it surrenders to whatever the Divine wants in whatever way, shape, or form that takes. Through that humility, you return to the issues and steps that you avoided, and you begin again on your spiritual path.
If you feel like you’ve skipped steps and gotten stuck, here are a few posts to help you.