Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What is the Spiritual Path, and What is it Good For?

Many people talk of their involvement in some spiritual path.  What are they talking about?  Do any two people have the exact same idea of what ‘spiritual’ is?  When we speak to each other of spirituality, there is a good chance that we are talking about two entirely different things without even realizing it.

I’ll attempt to be very clear about exactly what I mean by a ‘spiritual path.’  First, let’s look at what it isn’t.  It is not a system of beliefs or dogma, or ways in which one should or shouldn’t live, or what should or shouldn’t be enjoyed. 

 ‘Spiritual’ is not a lifestyle; people of all lifestyles can be ‘spiritual,’ whether they ever consciously think of themselves as such or not.  A truly spiritual person doesn’t go around thinking he’s a spiritual person.  ‘Spiritual’ has nothing to do with how we live our lives , what we do to ‘make a living,’ what we do at night and on the weekends.

Ultimately ‘spiritual’ has to do with the one Spirit that permeates and pervades the existing universe, which enters and maintains this body through the process of breath; each inhalation and exhalation enlivens and animates this body. 
The same Spirit dwells in all bodies simultaneously.  The same One peers from all these pairs of eyes.  Our ‘spiritual development’ is determined by our degree of maintaining consistent awareness of this Truth—the Oneness of all things.

A person could go to a yoga or a meditation group and not experience anything the least bit spiritual.  Another person might go to the movies or a party and experience a spiritual transformation that benefits them the rest of their life. 

That touches a little on what spiritual isn’t.  Now, what is it?

In addition to maintaining the awareness of Oneness, let’s approach what a ‘spiritual life’ would be from two simple yet distinct perspectives.  One is how we ‘see’ things—our vision of the world, our perception of others, and ourselves.  The other is how we ‘experience’ things—how we experience the world, others, and ourselves.

That is the most simple and concise way of living a spiritual life.  From this springs everything else.  Consciously living a spiritual life expands our vision and perspective of things, transforms how we ‘see’ things, and also allows us to experience the world, others, and ourselves is a much lighter and more refined way than we did before when we lived as an ordinary person.  Living as an ordinary person and appearing to be an ordinary person are two very different things

Of course, one deeply dedicated to the spiritual path in the ways we have clarified will appear to others as a completely ordinary person.  As we become more ‘spiritually developed,’ nothing particularly of our outer persona and presentation changes at all.  Even those who know us best cannot comprehend the difference that we inwardly see and experience, and there is no way we can ‘explain’ it to them.  Explaining ourselves dissipates our power in any case, but that is a subject for another day.

One of the most popular blog entries we have had here was ‘What is the Difference between Ordinary and Enlightened?’  (August 2, 2012)  In fact, as of this writing, I just reposted it on my Facebook page as a ‘note’, and apparently it has been just as well received there.  It is an important topic, and one that is explored deeply in the lessons.

This subject, this blend of ordinary/enlightened, strikes many as something essential, something truly worth learning, experiencing, and becoming.  No matter how 'enlightened' we become, we see that we are still very 'ordinary.'  
Contrarily, if we are identified with being ordinary, we prevent ourselves from also experiencing our enlightenment.  They both exist in perfect balance all along.  It is only our direction of attention that makes one stand out over the other.

In the previous entry about the divine balance of the universe, it was pointed out that the exact amount of the Earth’s surface is lit up in light as the amount of surface that is in darkness at any given time.  It is exactly equal all the time.

The same is true for all polarities, all pairs of opposites.  In this physical world, this earth-plane—however you wish to think of it—all the polarities are exactly equal in their manifestation in our world.  It could not be otherwise, or it would change the nature of the world we live in.

Considering the ‘spiritual life’ as about vision and experience, the actual practice of the spiritual life is seeing and experiencing more light than darkness, more pleasant aspects of life than unpleasant aspects, more love and joy than any other emotion.  A spiritual life is seeing the perfection in all things and knowing that anything else is just the play of the mind.

All emotional energies exist equally in this world, positive and negative, yet our consciousness of energy, and our direction of attention, can enable us to see and experience that which is expanding (which is pleasant) rather than that which is contracting (and unpleasant.) 
In the same way, seeing something as pleasant is expanding, and seeing something as unpleasant is contracting.  We just have to remember that we hold the key, and it’s up to us what we are conscious of.

Most of us feel that it's quite natural to see the chiropractor for a physical adjustment.  It's at least as important, however, to also get mental, emotional, and psychic adjustments.  Often whole perspectives need to be adjusted, so that we enjoy a more expanded perspective of all visions and experiences. 

When we see and experience our life in the most expanded way, our experience becomes primarily Love.  Love is the inner sensation of Consciousness itself—they are two ways of referring to the same thing, which is the greatest ‘thing’ in life.

This fairly accurately describes what happens through the process of participating in the Course of Training via email, 'Living in the Truth of the Present Moment."  This Course is primarily a development of how to ‘see’ and ‘experience’ everything in a subtler, more refined way. 

This leads not only to Love, but to a life of harmony and equanimity, and a vision of the Oneness of all things.  This is the highest understanding and experience we can hope for during the time we occupy these physical bodies.

If a person reads this and the exchanges in the comments of the blog openly and with a willingness to see something 'new', it will be experienced that the writing is not so much about dispensing facts or information, but more about tuning in to a certain energy and state in the present moment.  It is about expanding the ways in which we see and experience everything.

The underlying essence of spiritual development is about tuning into a certain energy and state, which leads to a grander way of seeing and experiencing anything of this life, including this life itself. 

Another great topic, perhaps, is ‘Who’ is ‘seeing’ and ‘experiencing’ anything in the first place?  ‘Who’ is seeing the Oneness of all things?  Who is the Seer?  Who is the Experiencer?  This is a discussion for another day, and is fully explored in the lessons of the Course.  The blog is a glimpse into the Course.

For information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler and available by email—along with a free Lesson 1 so that you can experience it for yourself—write:



Divya said...

This experience of the balance between being ordinary and feeling what a great being would feel is exactly the experience I had in the death of a dear friend recently. It was all about LOVE. I have never experienced this before around death. I have felt a fear and a sadness inside instead. I have gone into months of depression surrounding the death of my parents and brothers and sisters and friends. The lessons have taught me about harmony inside of myself and especially about LOVE. I am so grateful. My spiritual life has expanded because of this experience to include ALL paths in Oneness. Each person follows what they can to attain this oneness in their life. It may not look like mine. I have learned to respect it all. with gratitude, Divya

michael said...

From one who takes the Course it feels to be more than a glimpse. It is certainly the feel and substance of the Course. The adjustments as you put it over the years of participation and practicing what is offered have not only changed my perspectives but allowed a more harmonious, full and contented of connectedness, responsibility for what shows up, compassion and joy.

Mandala Healing Art said...

WOW! Each month, this blog DOES expand my conscious awareness of what is happening in my present moment! Experiencing the natural polarities of everyday events HAS become ever more humorous due precisely to the practice of "seeing and experiencing more light than darkness, more pleasant aspects of life than unpleasant aspects, more love and joy than any other emotion"... and thru the Lessons, this practice of willing our attention, or the intent of our attention, expands my life experience, regardless of what is going on around (me).... Thank you Ram! Thank you Kay! Thank you to all of you in the Course community!


vickie said...

thanks always Ram for your service as a "spiritual chiropractor"--each month never fails to tweak a little here, nudge a bit there, shift a little where I'm stuck and help bring me back into alignment with my self. Your help is invaluable and most appreciated--so simple and rare and essential.

Karen Jo Shapiro said...

Recently I have come to realize that in the blog, Ram's FB, and our lessons one of the things that comes back very often is the word "harmony" as in "being in harmony with" (feelings, thoughts, outer conditions, other people etc). I've decided to take this as a "hint" to one of the most important principles for me to practice on "the spiritual path"!

Another thing that really stood out to me in this month's lesson was "Change your mind, change your life". While many other writers have said similar things there is something so valuable and effective about the way that the lessons lead us into deeper understanding step by step.

I felt like I was seeing this teaching in a new way. An example came to my mind. Something "good" could be happening in my life and my enjoyment of that would be very different if I had the thought and attitude "I am worthy" vs. "I am unworthy".

A stance of worthiness vs. unworthiness could make so many changes in one's life and one's experience of it.

Anyway, thank you D.R. Butler for continuing to remind us of the Truth from so many angles and in so many ways so it chips away at all our old conditioning.

Blessings, Karen Jo

Becky said...

Are experiences balanced in this world, too? If I have a particularly expansive experience, is someone else equally experiencing contraction? I understand that the feelings of love and lightheartedness are always available, but is it the nature of things that it can only be known in a balance with darkness, contraction?

Tara said...

Greetings Ram and everyone who shares with such beauty and open hearted appreciation heart responds to the warmth and kindness that i feel... i hear tender music, the wind and the very soothing to my often overwhelmed self. It seems without the Lessons of the course my heart would have frozen up long ago {due to all the sad things i have seen happen to those i love and for what seems to go on on this planet}...thank heavens that Ram can bring the light energies into this world for all of us! I am happy to not have to live with a frozen heart!

Elias said...

When consciousness is everything, pervading all polarities, I am wondering why would focussing on the light aspect of polarity, with more frequency, be a spiritual practice? Aren't there practices and people that willingly visit the dark aspects, doesn't consciousness pervade that too?

Yesterday I was absorbed in the lesson and blog for nearly two hours, I felt I was right in line with the principles, after I was done, I had a kind of mental resistance, a and it felt tense, although I spent the day by myself and have no one to blame, so would that kind of event be a cleansing or a purification as a result of readings? When I reviewed my day, overall it was a pleasant day, but my inner experience was tense in the latter part of the day. What is lightheartedness?

Julian C. said...

What a wonderful post, Ram. Thank you. It is very clearly written and very readable. Most importantly, it reminds me of some of the things I need to keep in mind in my efforts to experience a simpler and happier life, without any "spiritual" pretense at all.

D. R. Butler said...

Elias, lightheartedness is the opposite of seriousness. When the ego gets involved, we get all heavy and serious. As we get freer from ego, we see the humor in things. As it says in one of the lessons of the Course, "Humor is very closely related to Divinity. Fully understanding this immediately transforms our vision and experience of everything."

It is true that there will be many cleansing and purifying experiences extending from the energy of participating in the Course. We might even have greater challenges, but the best part is that we discover we have previously unknown abilities to take care of such challenges. This is how we grow.

It is true that Consciousness pervades all polarities, and there are practitioners of the dark side, the dark arts, 'black magic,' and so on. One fellow in India, very powerful, has developed the siddhi (power) of killing someone simply by wishing them dead.

So you can go down the dark side all you want if you prefer. Participating in our Course of Training, however, takes us toward and into the Light.

We can recognize that we have a dark side, yet through the power of attention we can remain focused on enjoying the Light, and remaining absorbed in Light. Being that we actually ARE the Light, it is very simple if we drop ego and mind and all their creations (egotistical melodramas).

Ellen said...

Thankful to read this as I need to get "back into alignment" - great name for a chiropractic clinic.

How do we just "drop the ego" and mind? especially if we are caught up in them? How do we then "act"?
Its been a thick month for me . . and looking forward to breaking free. Eagerly looking to experience the reality. I had a baby born in the family recently, and want so much to be able to giver her all that I can- just not sure what that is, or what the reality is that I can fully experience and rely on. I constantly feel I need to experience it in order to be able to impart it to others, and to be able to live more fully. it is a challenge to live in the present.

Also, there is a Siddha in India who can kill people by thought? ? ? I dont understand how the spiritual power in such an act would support this type of action. how does a person with such intentions garner such kind of shakti to be able to take these actions....? perhaps It is the Lord of death?

Thank you - Love

D. R. Butler said...

Ellen, as for dropping the ego and mind, that is what the Course is for. There is nothing I could tell you in a sentence or two that would transform anything for you. It's the process of the Course that clarifies and answers such questions.

I did not say there is a 'Siddha' in India with this dubious power. I said there is someone who has developed this 'siddhi' or power. Thankfully he does not practice it very often :) I probably shouldn't have mentioned it, as it could be confusing. I just gave it as an example of powers of the dark side, since someone asked about it. Do not worry. You'd have to do a lot more than just make him angry in order for him to come close to activating his particular siddhi.

It's just, things are not always as they seem, or as we think they are. The world is a pretty far-out place, and we have to learn how to play and master this game of life.

D. R. Butler said...

After a couple of other questions have come in, which I am not going to post, I honestly regret mentioning someone having the siddhi to kill another.

This is nothing that we explore in the Course of Training, so it shouldn't be thought of as representative of the Course or what we experience through the lessons.

One last note: if someone was killed because of another's siddhi to kill, it would be because it is their karma coming into this life to be killed in that way at that time. Neither birth or death happens by accident, although both have ways of appearing so.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ram regrets please..look how many get killed in the old testament bible by God ..that is shocking read and hope its all just a play then too and one person getting killedjust from trying to keep the arc from falling off the cart even!

Michael said...

You've been writing a lot about the difference between ordinary and enlightened. I understand that enlightenment is a matter of being consistent in the awareness of the present moment. Is it karmically determined when a person will become established in the truth of the present moment?

Jeanne Hurdel said...

I am just very grateful to have this course and the transformation that goes along with it. I have gotten some insights into my ego that I am very grateful for.I don't want to spew anger all over someone and it is nice to know you can transform anger and other negitive emotions.Even my understanding of ego has been transformed.I did not know there was ÿogic physcology.I was always trying to understand ego through western phycology For all of this I am truly grateful Thank you... all the best Jeanne Hurdel

Kathryn Ann Wade said...

Dear Ram, Thank you for this place to come and stand in like a river, never really the same place twice, always on the same topic-- the Truth. Always something new being said and heard, and within the words, always something unchanging. For this and more, I am ever grateful. with Love, kathryn

John said...

Vol. 2, Lesson 30
One of the teachings in this lesson concerns becoming "free from the need for stimulation."
This has been a major issue throughout my sadhanna. When I found a true path, I thought that I wanted to be enlightened.
However, I had no true understanding of what that meant.
Looking back, what I really wanted was to attain an inner state of peace, contentment and tranquility.
At that time, I was so tortured by my mind and ego, I felt that I no longer wanted to continue to live, so naturally, I assumed this inner longing was a longing for "liberation".
In fact, I remember being in an Intensive and during meditation, I experienced the state of pure awareness.
When my attention returned to the meditation hall, my first thought was "I don't want it to be over yet."
The Guru was sitting in her chair and she said, "I give them the experience but they don't want what I have to give."
Fast forward to my current lesson in 2013, and what is coming up for me are all of my attachments to this world and the desire for "stimulation."
Recently, while looking back over my life, I had the thought: "I have had nothing but difficulties, yet I am going to miss it."
What am I going to miss really? Seriously, my mind can not think of anything rewarding outside of sadhanna, and yet my ego continues to desire for more, something better, etc.
What I can say is that I have attained sufficient improvement of my mind and intellect to at least have the ability to enjoy my life as it is now. And that is something to be grateful for.
The courses you have offered to a large degree have been and continue to be the means of receiving the grace that I needed to attain that and to continue to grow. So, I thank the Guru Principal for manifesting in and through your life's work, Ram.

Thank you.

D. R. Butler said...

John, the spiritual energy of a powerful lineage is behind the lessons' existence, and the transformation that takes place through participating in the Course is through the grace of that lineage.

If the Guru Principle manifests through the course, it is because the Guru created the Course in the first place. It is the Guru that manifests as the Course. Without the grace of the Guru, there is no Course. I simply signed on to be the typist.

Vandita said...

This is a question from Ana, one of the Spanish students of the lessons. She is 32 and she has been taking your course for 1,5 years now. I am translating her question and will send her your answer:

I feel that I am a different person but I don´t know what it is that is different in me. My question is: Why do I feel fear? I feel I am not the same one anymore. The truth is that I have much more inner peace but, why do I feel fear?

I feel confused when I notice that I am not so much involved in the world, and when I think of my day that just went by, it is as if I was just an observer, as if things were not really happening in the moment when they were actually happening. I do not feel that I am living those situations; it is as if I were asleep all day long. How do I know that I am in a spiritual path, and that this is not something else? How would I know the difference?

It is kind of intense to not be able to recognize myself. And I think: Then, who have I been for all these years? And who am I now?

Thank you so much for your answer.

D. R. Butler said...

Vandita, I apologize for the delay in answering Ana's question. I have been strangely busy for a while.

Ana, everything you say seems normal, and there is nothing to worry about or fear. Love is the antidote to fear, so love what you fear and the fear will vanish.

You say you don't know who you are. At least you realize it. Most people don't know who they are, but they think that they do. You are always pure Consciousness. There is never any way in which you could not be pure Consciousness. Everything else is very transitory.

I also simply observe my days as they happen. It is very good to be the Observer. There is no use in thinking you are something else, or to be identified with what you are doing or what is happening. Just continue with your observation and be joyous. There is nothing else you are here to do.

Vandita said...

Thank you so much! I just sent it to her (translated) :)