What is it to be spiritual? Is it to wear a robe and shave the head, or perhaps to go to church and be reverent in the eyes of the world? Many people associate being spiritual with a traditional religion, or a psychic teaching that involves visualisation and positive affirmations to attract good fortune and prosperity. Then there are those who are devotional in their endeavour to ease the burden of others, such as charity workers, healers and those in the caring professions. Could it be, however, that the most spiritual man or woman is the most ordinary, distinguished only by their extraordinary self-knowledge of life and reality?
A spiritual man endeavours to purify his sexual self. He avoids pornography and joking with mates about his sexual exploits, or sly innuendos in the company of women. This is not done through suppression or with a sense of missing out, but by knowing what he’s doing. Such a man is resolved to transform his negative emotions by being more gracious and loving, so as to transcend the unconscious demands of his self. When this becomes a continual focus for a man, the life starts to be lived with a profound sense of purpose. His actions and communication to others are supported by a bracing new energy, reflecting an authority not reliant on the personality as before.
In woman, the spirituality of the female principle is an emanation of the ineffable mystery of love. This, however, may be so subtle that it escapes recognition by the world at large. But she will reflect a quality to someone sensitive to the beauty of love that is recognised as something divine. She’s soft in her absence of force, yet able to be firm when necessary in response to the demands of the world. A spiritual woman adores the nobility of man, her opposite principle, but she puts love first as honesty to her own spiritual nature. Such a woman knows that some men will try to undermine her integrity, particularly in the workplace. Man knows that if he can make a woman emotional, he’ll be able to manipulate her for his own selfish desires. When a woman doubts herself she becomes vulnerable to being exploited in this way.
To be spiritual is to have nothing to defend or to take a position when someone is critical of what you say or do. Spiritual pride is an iniquitous thread of ignorance which often impedes the direct experience of reality. The idea is to surrender in the moment any position which would reinforce the self’s emotional clinging to the world. In eastern teachings there’s a tradition of higher and lower self, which has been adapted by many in the western approach to spirituality. There’s no higher or lower self, but gradations of diminishing ignorance that appear to create divisions within the psyche. Many people assume there’s something to attain in their journey of self-discovery, such as spiritual growth, when the truth is the exact opposite.
No-one can be liberated while there’s belief in anything. This is why it’s often impossible to communicate the truth to someone indoctrinated by a religion, or attached to a particular teaching or philosophy. There’s a place for such beliefs, since existence consists of graduated levels of self-knowledge within the psyche comparable to the evolutionary needs of an individual. Spiritual power is negation – the abandonment of everything that’s been absorbed as any acquired learning or religious indoctrination. Humility is to be open to the truth of life wherever it appears.
Self-realisation, despite the fancy connotation of spiritual enlightenment, is simply the knowledge of the person’s former unconscious living and attachment to the world. All that’s required is to be willing to be an ordinary man or woman who is true to life and love.