This post is by guest blogger, Brent Beckley.
“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” – Peter F. Drucker
In a recent conversation with Sue, she told me the story of a friend in the spiritual community who has been struggling with her teachers. In essence, she was told “you cannot reach the next level of consciousness unless you do exactly what we say.” With some specificity, she could not reach the next level because of a lifestyle choice. She’s not vegan.
That’s the old thinking of paternalistic religions.
Ultimatums are the tools of those who seek power. “You cannot reach the next level of consciousness unless…” is the same as the biblical stipulation of, “I am the way, the truth, and the light. No one comes to the father but by me.” I believe that particular ultimatum was added to the Bible by those who were seeking power, in other words, those who decided they would designate themselves God’s mouthpiece. I don’t believe Jesus actually uttered those words.
Sue’s friend has come up against a wall in her learning. A wall constructed by a farmer who is only interested in raising sheep. She does not want to be a sheep in a pen. She wants to roam free and learn that there is more to spirituality than the four walls and the same message repeated again and again and again. She wants to innovate her spirituality.
Back to the biblical stipulation mentioned earlier. I compared it to the ultimatum in the first paragraph and I mention it again here because even though I am on the fringes of the spiritual community, I do see members, teachers, and groups using the same tactics as traditional religions. I think it is fair to surmise that the vast majority of the global spiritual community is made up of people who left traditional religions behind because they could no longer accept the indoctrination practices. Yet, I see those same practices in different modalities, exemplified by the earlier idea that “you cannot reach the next level of consciousness unless you are vegan.”
These are walls that are being built that prevent innovation. The spiritual journey is one of creation, and therefore, requires creativity of the person on the path. Creativity is the powering force of innovation. It is impossible to be creative when you allow arbitrary barriers generated by others along on the journey to block your path. We each have our own infinitely unique path to walk. Does the monk on the top of the mountain have your experiences? No. Therefore, are they the ones to follow? Probably not. That’s not to say that they cannot provide advice that will be helpful, but, would you follow every word as if it their words are the way, the truth, and the light?
To do so would be to throttle your spiritual innovation. No one modality provides all the answers for everyone. So, take the pieces that you intuit work for you, and leave all the others behind. If a teacher is not looking for you to exceed them, then they do not have your best interests at heart. A great teacher wants you to leave class and explore further. If they want you to stay in class, they stop being teachers and become farmers, using you for their own benefit.
You are meant to surpass your teachers. You are meant to move onward and upward. So, be responsible for innovating your own spirituality. Take it in hand and know that your personal experiences are the driving factor for what works and what doesn’t. There is no single answer, no single modality that will solve everything. Isn’t it ironic that the community talks about infinite possibilities, and yet, there are so many who believe that a single modality, or doctrine, or practice is THE answer and step off their own unique path to walk on another’s?
I’ll conclude with a personal story. I am a WASPRAM. A White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (Recovering) And Male. I grew up the son of a Baptist minister and finally rejected the church I was raised in for multiple reasons including their stance on homosexuality (a friend’s membership in the church was rescinded and he was disinvited from being on the property). I started delving into other ideas almost immediately after leaving the church and today I use ideas and practices from many other spiritual sources such as Daoism, Buddhism, Native American mysticism (my former therapist was a Seneca Medicine Man), Catholicism, and even though I left the church behind, there are still many tenets from the faith of my youth that I know still work for me. I also happen to live with an amazing woman who has been sharing belief systems involving past lives, quantum healing, angels, galactics, Source, and much more. I take what I feel works for me, add it to my backpack, and keep walking my path.
Is my way the only answer? If you made it this far, you should know it would be wildly hypocritical to even say so with the best intentions. All I ask is that you take responsibility for YOUR spiritual innovation and do the things that work for YOU. Expand and innovate your learning. Get creative. Leave the things (and people) that don’t work behind you. Forge your own path.
Because that path belongs to you, and you alone.