There are spiritual experiences of all kinds, and they are all beautiful. Of course, there is one specific type of experience where something internally is awakened and re-shapes us. The one is what I call a spiritual awakening.
But there is a problem.
Actually, there are many problems, but the problem I want to point to today has to do with how the ego interprets experiences.
Consider if you just found out that there is something called temperature. But your only tool for measuring things is your car’s odometer. If we’re using my car, then the temperature at the moment is 126,734 degrees! And it’s only ever going up!
The ego is the same way. It only knows what it knows, and it will try to put your experiences into the only framework of understanding that it has. Just like using my car odometer to interpret temperature, that can lead people to very inaccurate, useless, and wrong conclusions.
On some level, I think modern human beings crave confirmation of their beliefs. They really, really want to find out that their ways of thinking and feeling about life are correct. Then, someone has a spiritual experience, and it seems to fit some of the beliefs that they already have. Internally, they say, “Eureka! I was right all along!”
One of those spiritual experiences where this commonly happens is a deep enjoyable heart opening. Heart openings are typically spiritual openings where a lot of emotion is present, and in the enjoyable heart openings, the emotion is usually labelled as love.
If you see how I’ve constructed the above sentence, you can already see that I’m pointing towards a number of different ways to frame spiritual experiences. You can frame it in the space of the heart, body, mind, energy, and psychic spaces. If several space are opened at once, we usually call it a oneness experience even if it isn’t a complete oneness experience. Once again, we lack experience and the appropriate way to think about our experiences. We’re simply too new to spiritual experiences to make such distinctions of levels of oneness, and hence we misinterpret things.
I also point to the fact that some spiritual experiences open us to enjoyable aspects of ourselves and reality. Others show us unenjoyable aspects. And who decides what is enjoyable? Largely the ego.
So back to the deep enjoyable heart opening. People come out of such experiences, and they say, “Wow. I felt a lot of love. Therefore All Is Love after all.”
And why wouldn’t someone want to conclude this very popular belief is correct?
It’s a very nice experience, and lots of people say such things. I wrote such things in the earlier years of writing this blog. But as you can see, I grew and evolved and have a much more expansive vocabulary to appropriately understand such experiences. That lends itself to appropriately engaging with them and the realizations that can be had.
But more often, a person who has this sense of love does no further inquiry. They don’t want to challenge their belief, and they think they’ve achieved what they really want–a deep sense of happiness and safety. This is where a lot of people get stuck.
Are There Unenjoyable Heart Openings?
Yes! An open heart is an open heart. The feelings that someone finds within that space vary. If someone has a lot of old fear to process, a heart opening could be terrifying! For someone else, their ego can’t handle the sense of profound vulnerability, and therefore, the person doesn’t enjoy being open-hearted.
In general, there are lots of different emotions that can come in an open heart space, and the more clear we are, the more we can let any and all emotions pass through without giving them further energy. After a spiritual awakening, it can feel like all of our emotions have been unleashed, although usually it’s only a tiny fraction of what is within us. Once again, this issue of interpretation and correct perspective is at hand.
Back to “All Is Love”
Honestly, to say that all is love is a profound thing, but you can’t think of love as human love. Human love is a mix of body chemicals, and it would be really silly to say everything in the known universe is this set of body chemicals. Is a star called a magnetar a mix of dopamine, serotonin, and whatever other chemicals in our body create the emotion and sensation of love? No. Of course not.
Ultimately, if we are talking about true love–which most people in such an experience aren’t actually saying – we talking about pure neutrality. We’re talking about the profound acceptance that is the fabric of everything that never denies the existence of anything. Is the magnetar unconditionally accepted in this universe? Yes. Is the Indian Ocean unconditionally accepted? Yes. Are the freckles on someone’s skin accepted? Yes. Is systemic racism accepted? Yes. Is genocide accepted? Yes.
I know. I pulled a hard right turn on you, didn’t I? But unconditional acceptance is what it is. In our tiny corner of the universe and on this tiny blue rock, we have a lot of choices that we make about how to structure society, and quite clearly, we have the freedom to be kind or cruel.
And it’s usually the unconscious ego making us cruel. This is why finding freedom from our individual egos is foundational to creating a kinder society.
This all leads back to doing inner work. In so doing, we can understand our ego and how it tries to see whatever it wants to see. A pessimist has a spiritual experience, and she believes it is the end of the world because of her ego lens. An optimist has a body opening spiritual experience, and he believes that salvation is at hand because of his ego lens. Again and again, the ego distorts our perceptions of reality.
Sitting in the Unknown
One of the biggest and most important parts of the spiritual path is sitting with the unknown. When we have a spiritual experience of some kind and particularly if we are new to such things, we have to just allow it – not categorize it, act on it, or do something else. Most experiences don’t need any kind of immediate/urgent action anyway. After awhile, we can then write about the raw emotions, images, sensations, and other stuff with as little interpretation as possible.
And then, we probably do nothing with it while continuing to journey inwards.
However, the more someone dissolves the ego, the more a person can return in hindsight to an experience to more accurately frame it from a space of clarity if any re-framing is needed in our present moment. In this way, wise action and understanding can be derived from small spiritual epiphanies to profound spiritual revelations, and that can help a person go further in realizing spiritual freedom.
For more help on common misunderstandings, please check out these posts: