A client shared the most wonderful metaphor with me. He said, “I feel silly because now it looks like I was standing in one inch of water screaming and terrified that I was drowning.” This is what a shift in consciousness looks like. From the new perspective, what previously looked like a mountain now looks like a mole hill. I have felt humbled in this way many times. As soon as the shift occurs, the solution appears to be straightforward and is just simply common sense. This happens to us all the time. We get fresh thought. We have an insight, and now we have a new perspective.
From the perspective of theosopher, Sydney Banks, there is a formless energy that animates life. We bring the formless energy into form via our thoughts, and we are aware of our thinking because we have consciousness. This is happening every moment of every day whether we realize it or not. This is a practical spirituality that is not about renouncing our humanness or hiding from the world. It is about unconditionally embracing our humanity, warts and all, so we can experience our divinity more fully. The path of spiritual awakening does not require rejecting or judging any part of ourselves or others. A spiritual understanding has room for it all.
This is possible because we have free will to bring any of our thinking to life. If we are simply animating our thoughts, is it possible that thoughts are neutral and none of them are bad or wrong? Could it be that the actions we take when we are caught up in our thinking do not make us bad and wrong?
When I am gripped by insecure thoughts, feeling destabilized, and I snap at one of my daughters, or am critical of my husband, is it possible for me not to be bad and wrong? When someone cannot see their own self-judgments are simply inaccurate thoughts they are temporarily believing, and they create the experience of shame by believing these thoughts, does that not make them bad and wrong? What about the inmates, I have sat with, who have committed violent crimes, are they not inherently bad or wrong because of the actions they have taken? How are we not diminished in the face of our imperfections, big and small?
What occurs to me is, we are not our thoughts, we are not our feelings, we are not our behaviors. The essence of who we are is formless and expresses itself through our thoughts, feelings, and actions, but they do not define us. Our expression of that formless essence reflects our level of consciousness and understanding in that moment of expression. If I believe I am unlovable and worthless, it could make sense for me to join a gang and escape my emotional suffering by using drugs and alcohol. I may not flinch at taking the life of another if it preserves my safety and sense of belonging. Would that make me any less divine?
From my perspective, it does not. My essential nature cannot be changed, diminished, or damaged by misunderstandings or limiting beliefs, or the hurtful behavior that results from believing them. If I am not less worthy because I got angry at my husband, then someone else is not less worthy because of their transgression. We each will have to live with the consequences of our choices, but our worthiness is intact.
The reason why this point is important to me is because I see the pressure people put on themselves to be different, to improve themselves, to be more spiritual, to achieve a higher state of consciousness. The very pressure they put on themselves to be better creates suffering that gets in the way of them experiencing the peace of their true nature that is always there, and can result in unhealthy behavior that is harmful to themselves or others.
Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we each experienced the loving in our hearts to accept ourselves and others exactly as we are? Knowing that compassion and acceptance draws out the best in people. We could let go of self-judgment and live from the understanding that we don’t need to be better, different, thinner, richer, kinder, more confident, or more spiritual.
All this takes is a shift in perspective, to recognize the truth that we are inherently worthy and lovable. We can experience peace of mind and equanimity in the here and now. We are home. We belong. This would free up our energy to be more ourselves, to express our true nature with the people in our lives, to be grateful for what we have, and to be willing to share or help those less fortunate than ourselves. To me this is what practical spirituality looks like in action.