Spirituality: What the hell is it?

Some people think it is religion. Some people think it is absolutely not religion. Some people think it is the law of attraction, being positive, being kind, nice or loving. Some people think it is about getting to heaven after this life or avoiding hell. Some people think it is about knowing there is something bigger than us… something guiding us. What it is is very personal.

I do think spirituality is partially about a force bigger than us and developing a real relationship with that force, which is beyond intellectually knowing it exist. For me, spirituality is also about discovering that you are in fact also that force. The force is you and yet bigger than you at the same time. It is in you and beyond and outside of you at once. Spirituality is about being fully alive.

The piece I see missing in most religion and spirituality is the second part. The part where we meet our deepest selves and at the same time meet God. The question might then become: How? How do we meet our deepest selves? The answer is not easy or simple, which is hard for us to accept in our hurry up, quick fix culture. For most people it involves removing the many masks we wear even for ourselves. It requires that we feel deeply even the painful stuff that we like to ignore and pretend doesn’t exist. It requires that we make space to turn off the show and meet what is real. We, in essence, take ourselves to ourselves and allow what actually exists to exist exactly as is it. And when we do we have mercy on ourselves. That is a huge statement and worth repeating. We have mercy on ourselves.

I don’t know of any class on this kind of mercy in traditional schooling, so it takes learning. We let up on the pressure to feel a certain way and to be a certain way. We stop sending the wounded parts of us away, and we instead begin inviting those very important parts into our embrace. Many of those parts have been locked away for so long we barely remember them if at all. They often make their presence known in our dreams and body symptoms and in our triggers… the things and people that set us off. They also make their presence known in the things that mesmerize us. They are waiting, yet afraid. Afraid because we have demonized, analyzed, try to fix or rid ourselves of them. We have done absolutely everything except turn to them and say, “I am here. I am listening. You are loved.” We have instead said, “Go away. You are not welcome. You should not feel the way you feel. You should not exist. You are not worthy.” and a host of other not so merciful things. We tend to keep ourselves in a stronghold and not let up even though, these parts are saying, “Mercy! Mercy! Please let up! Please stop!”. We do what we do to our bodies and force them in directions they don’t want to go.

Did you ever play the game Mercy as a child? You and a friend face each other, grab hands with fingers interlocking and see who hands can overpower whose. The one who can’t push back any longer says, “mercy” and the other one stops and is the winner. This is how we deal with ourselves except parts of us are crying “mercy”, and we don’t let up.

Spirituality is about letting up. It is about re-membering ourselves and calling back the parts we have dismembered and sent into exile. We step into the darkness and find pieces of us there. We discover a whole new kind of light. We learn a new way of being with ourselves and ultimately each other. It is painful and liberating simultaneously. It is overwhelmingly moving. I can honestly say when I have done this I have met God. The experiences have been devastatingly beautiful. That is how I know it is God. Only God is capable of that level of paradox being so clear in a moment.

I have a lot to say on this subject, but it takes me time to grapple with my writing and these big questions that ultimately have no answers. There has to be room for Mystery though. If there is no Mystery it isn’t God or Spirit, Great Spirit in the Sky, the Force, the I AM, the Big It, Nature or whatever you might call It. This writing is the beginning of what Spirituality means to me, which I think speaks to a huge void in the spiritual, religious and personal development arenas. Today’s writing at least allows me to begin.

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