Spiritual Possibilities, Infinite Possibilities
What are we seeking?
Often we don’t know what it is exactly that we are wanting when it comes to spirituality. Generally, we can say that there is a longing or a need for something more. This need can be more or less conscious, and more or less urgent, and it has the potential to move us towards following its directive impulse. There are many kinds of teachers, of higher or lower quality, who represent a great number of spiritual traditions, perspectives, experiences, and realizations. While there are certainly commonalities in view, practices, and realizations, it is equally true that they significantly differ on many levels.
These days, in the Information Age, there is an unlimited and unparalleled access to spiritual wisdom, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s advantageous because our spiritual search can become more personalized and specific to our unique needs. On the other hand, information overload can generate confusion because there are many great teachings and teachers, books, audiobooks, online courses, and retreat opportunities. Therefore it is necessary to educate ourselves, and learn how to find the right thing for us. We have to first "learn how to learn", and how to prepare ourselves for recognizing the right opportunity.
A general spiritual "search" and why transpersonal psychotherapy can help
For some of us, our spiritual search can be very general in terms of what we are looking for, and this is good to know explicitly: it means that a larger quantity of teachers, teachings, and traditions can work for us. In terms of seeking out a specialized field like transpersonal psychotherapy, maybe we want to learn how to meditate, how to calm our mind and heart, practice mindfulness, or deepen our presence and awareness. This special form of therapy could help us learn to do this, and to work on psychological obstacles that might prevents us from experiencing our deeper nature.
Why go to a therapist for this kind of service and not a spiritual teacher? For one thing, many spiritual teachers and traditions don’t integrate psychology into their practice. I have witnessed many spiritual teachers take the approach that a student, for example, just needs to practice more meditation if they are having difficulty with their practice. The implicit message to the student is that it is their fault for their difficulty, and that they are doing it wrong. This is where transpersonal psychotherapy must offer its wisdom and expertise .
Continuing our example, it's vital to know that meditation can be difficult for innumerabe valid and common psychological reasons. In this kind of situation, practicing more might be the wrong approach, and sometimes an even hurtful one. We may need to work on a psychological level, first, to understand why spiritual practice could be giving us problems. Common reasons might include the eruption of unconscious psychological materiel, including repressed memories and feelings, phobias, anxiety, past trauma, and so on. We may have to process some of these things before continuing our practice.
Transpersonal psychotherapy is one of the unique perspectives that understands that spirituality is not a magic bullet. Though it is essential for our soul, there is much that our spiritual nature cannot heal by itself. With the help of psychological knowledge, spirituality can become a much healthier, balanced, and stabilizing practice. More can be found on this website regarding the unique role of transpersonal psychotherapy.
For those who want a deeper immersion in spiritual life
For those who might feel the need to place spirituality at the heart of their lives, and who want a more complete transformation, things get more complicated in terms of how we should approach our spiritual life if we value having clarity when it comes to how we are tending to our inner journey. We should reflect deeply and continuously on what feels true to us, and not be afraid to ask difficult questions. Though we can receive spiritual guidance in our process, we should never give our power away. However, finding trusted spiritual friends and mentors is indispensable, and quite possibly, according to cross-cultural spiritual wisdom, the beginning, middle, and end of the spiritual journey. In other words, finding the right people, and the right situations at the right time, are crucial.
In many, if not all, spiritual and philosophical traditions, it is said that when we are each born with a unique spiritual potential and destiny that we must fulfill. Thus, human beings are born incomplete there must be a conscious effort to realize this potential. What this potential is for each person is absolutely personal to them. For some it might be to explicitly realize who they are spiritually, and for others, it might be to pursue music, or a career in business.
The spiritual approach that I take is that we must each follow our own guidance, and not give away our authority to another person. With that being said, we often need support from others in order to find our own guidance, and to help us find our own inner certainty. My role as a spiritual advisor would be to help you discover who and what you really are - not who I think you should be.
My personal path moved me towards the journey of finding my own guidance, and part of that guidance was to move in the direction of understanding our spiritual possibilities, and the different ways we can experience and understand our spiritual nature. What I've come to understand is that although our spiritual nature is essentially a unity, derived from a single source, we can experience this unity, or basic presence, in a multitude of ways. We can see that this must be the case if we study the various spiritual and wisdom lineages of humanity. These spiritual lineages are each dedicated to understanding the truth, however, they describe their paths, their experiences, and their deepest and most ultimate realizations differently. How can they all be true?
Generally speaking, the Sufi tradition often emphasize love as the ultimate nature of reality, whereas the Tibetan Buddhists emphasize such qualities as compassion, spaciousness, and awakeness, and teach that reality is ultimately some kind of emptiness. Contemplative Christianity is dedicated to the experience of Christ, or Christ Consciousness, and believes that through christian practice, one is ultimately transformed by the experience of Christ, and becomes like Christ. Very broadly, the Hindu tradition emphasizes the quality of pure consciousness, which is a fullness and absorption into consciousness. This example can be still enlarged, including more well-known traditions, and an endless sea of spiritual teachers who are not associated with any lineage at all.
From observing the truth of this phenomenon, we must logically conclude that our spiritual nature, though arising from the same fundamental ground of reality can be experienced in a diverse quantity of forms. In addition to what has been mentioned, our nature can be experienced in such real qualities as peace, strength, light, joy, nourishment, will, power, presence, intelligence, stillness, different forms of love, different kinds of inner space, awareness, curiosity, truth, guidance, clarity, boundlessness, nothingness. These are some qualities that our nature manifests, but there are many more.
This is extremely valuable knowledge in terms of mapping the vast spiritual universe and giving us an understanding - or an approximation - of what is possible if we appreciate clarity of spiritual knowledge. In others words, there is a lot going on in the spiritual universe, and all of it, because it comes from our deepest source, feels good, real, and beautiful. It is all true. But how do we know what is true for us, personally? Our own personal guidance is the key to helping us find what is the true path for ourselves. Guidance is a like a spiritual Global Positioning Satellite (GPS). If we have our own G.P.S., we're in much better shape in terms of the clarity of our spiritual travel. Not only are we experiencing truth, but we are understanding the truth. It is irresponsible and negligent to force large numbers down a systematized, dogmatic path, assuming that it is obvious where people should be going. I take the perspective that emphasizes the exactitude of personal, specialized, and tailored guidance.
A true path of understanding is a path of autonomy, and developing one's own individuated relationship to reality. It's more difficult than other paths in the sense that we are fully responsible for ourselves, which is a lot to carry. It's sometimes easier to give over our power, and responsibility to another person, spiritual tradition, or religion. The path of individuality is a continual work in progress. Our respective cultural myths all demonstrate the reality of this path - the long journey, and the inner gold that awaits us at the end. Rather than assume that we have to follow what others say about reality, what if a reality exists that is personally accessible only to us? If so, our unique participation is required in fulfilling reality's design for us. From this perspective, receiving spiritual guidance from the outside is a matter of adequately equipping us with the right tools to find our own answers.