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Saturday, April 09, 2011

Steel Rose made a comment on my post yesterday and this is a response to that. 

Yes I understand your aversion to religion.  I was educated in a boarding school where Christianity was taught, but later I realised that the people who had been teaching me had little understanding of what they were teaching. They felt that it must be useful but could not explain how.  I abandoned that religious outlook.

Nevertheless, I came back - not to any Christian church, but to spirituality, when I began to understand the control our egos hold over us and how that control stunts and distorts our lives.  I remember that after work one day, when I was about 25 and living in London, I stopped in a bookshop in Oxford Street and bought Eugen Herrigel's "Zen in the Art of Archery."  Passing Hyde Park, I went in, sat down on a park bench and read the whole book through before continuing my journey home.  I realised that the archery Master had something infinitely valuable to teach.  Herrigel (whose education in philosophy was something of a disadvantage to him in this) after some years of lessons with the Master, suddenly one day became able to let "It" shoot.  I understood then that somehow we have to let "It" run our entire life.  That is, in a nutshell, what spirituality is all about, and what religion has hi-jacked to express in often distorted ways, mixed with power hunger.  

What is "It"?  It cannot be described or defined, but you know it when you see it!

Our egos are fearful of letting go their grip on us.  Ego should be our servant, but it is our master instead.  I see submission to another human as a metaphor for the longing to lose ourselves, lose our egos, with which we identify and believe to be our selves.  When we break the ego's control there is a sudden realization - "enlightenment" in Buddhist terms -  that we are not our egos.  

We stop defining ourselves.  

"It" takes over and our life is completely transformed.

Unfortunately, the ego is nothing if not tenacious and a few seconds, minutes or hours later we begin to question this and usually find ourselves back in its grip.  But the step has been taken and never again will we feel so powerless.


  1. I hope you weren't offended! I certainly wasn't intending to knock all spirituality (just the ritual that goes into organised religion). I just think it interesting that the closer I am to the physical, in terms of human connection and also connection to nature, the more deeply I feel fulfilled in a "spiritual" way.

    I was also challenging the vocabulary used. For instance, we talk about Buddhist Spirituality vs. Christian Protestant Spirituality (what I was raised with) using the same term, but they are vastly different. Buddhism is atheistic (not in the western secular sense, but in the sense of being literally "without god") whereas Christianity is, of course, monotheistic.

    I like what you are saying about "it" taking over. That makes sense to me, but I am not there yet. I suppose I should clarify that I do not think the physical (taste, touch, smell, see) are the sum total of reality, but I think we have to ground ourselves in the physical to begin to appreciate the spiritual. I do believe in energies that we define as spiritual (for lack of a better term), but I do not believe in God (that is, a conscious, omnipotent being creating and manipulating reality).

    Here is a quote from the Prashna Upanishad which has been reverberating in my mind ever since I first read it in college:

    "When mind is lost in the light of the Self, it dreams no more; still in the body it is lost in happiness.'

    The synthesis of body, mind and soul is the ultimate goal, yes?

  2. Steel Rose, your comments are interesting and I shall turn over what you say in my mind. You probably have something to teach me.

    I am not sure that there is an "ultimate goal" that should apply to everyone. I think we choose our goals, and our choices are influenced by what we read and experience. My goals have changed during my life, and still are changing. I like to hear what thoughtful people such as yourself express.
    Another point:I am not sure about the synthesis of body, mind and soul. Perhaps the distinction between these three is entirely artificial, they are already one and we have divided them to make things more interesting?

  3. As a wayward student of A Course in Miracles and submissive woman, this passage struck a deep chord within me:

    "Ego should be our servant, but it is our master instead. I see submission to another human as a metaphor for the longing to lose ourselves, lose our egos, with which we identify and believe to be our selves. When we break the ego's control there is a sudden realization - "enlightenment" in Buddhist terms - that we are not our egos."

    I have had glimpses of breaking the ego's control both in the joy of submitting to a Dominant, and in my own meditations, but frustratingly, it is never permanent.

    But then it seems to me that a permanent dropping of the ego is what it means to be an enlightened being and no longer of this world.


  4. Mimi: As far as I can know from reading, the experience of others seeking enlightenment is very varied. Some, like Eckhart Tolle or Tony Parsons, achieve it apparently permanently in one fell swoop, others in instalments, as it were. However, it nevertheless is not a gradual process, there is no path you can take to get nearer and nearer; you are there or you are not. Maybe you are there, then you are not; or it becomes, by degrees, easier to get there when you are not; but it not a case of nearer or further.
    I am reminded while writing this of the writings of Teresa of Avila, who compared prayer to watering a garden; you can read much of it online here, and it might seem from this that there are degrees of nearness; I'm not sure how to reconcile this, but I still think she is talking about the same thing.


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