Can You Achieve MER on Your Own?

 

Dr. Paul Brunton tells us how he came to what he calls “spiritual consciousness”, in his book, THE SECRET PATH – a modern technique of Self Discovery:

“My confidence stands serene that I can make good my thesis against all comers, but only if they are prepared to undertake the same psychological experiments which I undertook. The thoughts I now give out did not come to me after long argument; they came after long experience. Whoever, therefore, would understand them aright, must be willing to invite the same experience, and this will come readily enough if he is to keep on finding truth as he is on his other and more mundane affairs.”


Paul Brunton is the pen name of Raphael Hurst, a British theosophist and spiritualist. He is best known as one of the early popularizers of Neo-Hindu spiritualism in western esotericism, notably via his bestselling A Search in Secret India. Died: July 27, 1981, Vevey, Switzerland”
Wikipedia.

THE SECRET PATH was published in 1988 as a second printing by Samuel Weiser Inc., Box 612, York Beach, Maine., USA, 03910, but was first published in London, England, in 1935. This was one of 11 of Brunton’s books on the subject.

See www.paulbrunton.org for the Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation.

Mysticexperiences.net

SIGNS OF SPIRITUAL AWAKENING?

The Symptoms of Higher Consciousness: 18 Unmistakable Signs of Spiritual Awakening

BY STEVE TAYLOR, Ph.D.

This article is excerpted from “The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening” by Steve Taylor, Ph.D. It is reposted from Conscious Lifestyle Magazine for review purposes:

“INTRODUCTION

“What does it mean to be awake? What are the characteristics of the state of ‘spiritual wakefulness’ or ‘enlightenment’?

“I’ll summarise these characteristics or signs of spiritual awakening as they have emerged from my research. Then we’ll look at where these characteristics come from — that is, try to identify how the state of wakefulness gives rise to them.

“These characteristics of spiritual awakening are uniform. Typically, permanently awakened people experience all of these characteristics and usually at roughly the same degree of intensity.

“This uniformity is one of the most striking things to emerge from my research into the signs and symptoms of spiritual awakening and emphasizes the validity of seeing wakefulness as a distinct psychological state. The only significant variation is in terms of the overall intensity of wakefulness. The continuum of states of wakefulness (editors note: wakefulness is a term that refers to the state of being spiritually aware or awake at above average levels) ranges from less intense to very intense.

“The intensity of the characteristics of wakefulness obviously varies according to the intensity of a person’s overall wakefulness. That is, if a person experiences a high intensity of wakefulness, they will obviously also experience a high level of well-being, a high degree of mental quietness, a very pronounced tendency toward altruism, a very pronounced lack of group identity, and so on. The reverse obviously applies to someone with a lower intensity of wakefulness.

“It’s also worth noting that many of the characteristics I’m going to highlight are common to temporary spiritual awakening experiences, too.

“A New World: Perceptual Characteristics.

“The clearest way in which spiritual awakening manifests itself is in terms of the wakeful person’s different perception and experience of the world around them. One of the main signs or symptoms of an awakened individual is that they don’t perceive the world in the same way as other people do. The world is as different a place to them as the world of a child is to the world of an adult — or, you might say, as the world of a pre-civilized indigenous person is to the world of a modern Westerner.

Mystical experiences comment: Drs Richard Burke and Marsha Sinetar have suggested the existence of such individuals who have had these experiences, mystics, might suggest they are a different species. Certainly the Reality I have experienced is completely outside the human experience of existence.

“1. Intensified Perception
In wakefulness, perception is vivid and direct. Spiritually awakened people see the world in a very childlike way — struck by the wonder, beauty, and intricacy of phenomena that other people take for granted and don’t pay much attention to. One of the signs of spiritual awakening is that the world is a brighter, more fascinating and beautiful place to them. In particular, they are captivated by nature — the amazing is-ness and beauty of the natural landscape, the sky, and the sea; the strangeness, complexity, and intricacy of animals, plants, and other phenomena.

Not my experience. I take the existence of Reality for granted. Generally, I am not awed by human experiences.

“This intensity of perception is sometimes experienced as an openness to experience or, in slightly different terms, an increased sensitivity. It’s as if filters have been removed or shutters have been opened and, as a result, more impressions come into our minds and affect us more powerfully. As we’ve seen, intensified perception can sometimes feel overwhelming in sudden spiritual awakening experiences (as it can also be in psychedelic experiences), but it usually isn’t a problem once wakefulness becomes established.

Not entirely true of my experiences. They were so obvious, true, real, natural, blissful, benign, joyful, accepting, whole.

“All of the spiritually awakened individuals I interviewed commented on this intensified perception. One person told me how the world had become “sharper, more real,” while another was “struck by how fresh everything seems.” Another person remarked that “colours seemed brighter, more alive.” Others described a sense of awe and a new appreciation for simple pleasures and activities like walking, cooking, eating, and simply attending to their surroundings.

Not true to my experiences … Sounds suspiciously emotional to me – material mindstuff, human brain pleasure leakage, not a true mystical experience of Reality. Anthropomorphic?

“2. Increased Presentness / Timelessness
Another symptom of spiritual awakening is that also brings a different perception of time or, you might say, a shift in time orientation. In wakefulness, the past and the future become much less important, and the present becomes correspondingly more important. Awakened individuals spend much less time recalling past experiences or ruminating over past events, just as they spend less time looking forward to the future, daydreaming about future events or focusing on future goals. Instead, they focus on their present experience, on the surroundings they’re in, the people they’re with, and the sensations and impressions they’re having.

“For some people, this increased presentness leads to a sense of the expansiveness of time. Time seems to somehow open up, slow down, or even disappear all together. This sign of spiritual awakening is the sense of the eternal now that is sometimes described by mystics, when the past, future, and present all merge into one.

“Ultimately, the past and the future are concepts created by the human mind. We never actually experience either because our minds and bodies are always in the present. The past and the future only exist in thought, whereas the present does not exist in thought.

Never thought of the experiences or observed these effects as presented here, except for the recognition there really is no such thing as time. Time is a very helpful, convenient human strategy to get a handle on mundane human realities. It doesn’t exist in Reality.

“In addition, as I suggest in my book “Making Time”, our normal linear perception of time is a mental construct generated by our strong sense of ego. The weaker our sense of ego becomes, the more linear time seems to fade away. Our perception of time slows and expands — and eventually disappears into now-ness.

The growing elimination of ego is very noticeable and I think it might be one of the causes of my impatience, not to say outraged rejection of human posturing, public and private.

“3. Awareness of “Presence” or an All-Pervading Spiritual Energy
At higher intensities of spiritual awakening, we experience symptoms like becoming aware of a spiritual force that pervades all things and the spaces between things. In my research, one person described this as “a deep sense of a living presence within that is both magnificent and also very ordinary.” Another person described one of his symptoms of awakening as “a vast presence which is just infinite and pretty mind-blowing. Especially in nature.” Another person spoke of an “awesome presence” that he referred to as “God.” This force is sometimes described in terms of a “source,” something underlying and fundamental that doesn’t just pervade all things but gives rise to them, too. In a sense, all things are the manifestation of this force.

Yes, very definitely so. I often wonder if the Reality I experienced is what in ancient times was reduced to an anthropomorphised definition they called “God” to help them understand the phenomena. If so, the “God” definition falls far short of describing Reality. The human “God” is too small, too distorted with domestication …

“4. Aliveness, Harmony, and Connectedness
“At a lower intensity of wakefulness, a person may not be aware of this all-pervading spiritual force directly but they may still be able to indirectly sense its effects.

“One of the signs of spiritual awakening is a sense of aliveness. To the awakened person, there are no such things as inanimate objects. Even natural phenomena that aren’t biologically alive (such as clouds, sea, or stones) and manmade objects (such as pieces of furniture or buildings) shine with the radiant aliveness of spirit. Objects that are biologically alive become more powerfully animate. One spiritually awake woman described how “everything looked and felt ultra real and alive. I kept staring out of the window and just marveling… I could almost see the atoms in everything I looked at. I had the strongest feeling that everything was perfectly okay and perfect in the universe.”

A Sufi tradition is to keep a stone nearby to remind them from where humans emanated. The biblical Jesus is said to have spat on the earth to make mud to remind humans of their antecedents.

“This woman’s recollection touches on another indirect effect of this all-pervading spiritual force — a sense that “all is well.”

These are the actual words repeated to me three times in one of my experiences. They made no sense to me at the time. They do now. Humans and the Creation have not been abandoned to their own inadequacies. All is well.

“As spiritual texts and mystics tell us, the nature of this energy is blissful.

Yes. Blissful beyond human description.

“It has a quality of bliss or joy in the same way that water has a quality of wetness. So when we perceive its presence in the world, there’s a sense of harmony — again, an awareness that is commonly described by indigenous peoples. As a symptom of spiritual awakening, we sense that the universe is a benevolent place and that harmony and meaning are its fundamental qualities.

Reality is benign totally accepting of It’s engulfed creation. (Is this where the ancients got their certainty that “God is love”?).

“Finally, this spiritual energy underlies and pervades all things and so creates a sense of connectedness or oneness.

Yes. We are that Reality, as It is us.

“An awakened person may have the sense that the boundaries between superficially separate and distinct objects have melted away. They may still sense what some of my participants described as “the oneness of everything” or “the oneness of the universe.”

Yes, the “universe” is too small to contain the whole of Reality,

“When we experience spiritual awakenings, one common sign is that our inner life changes. There’s a shift in how we feel inside, in our psychological experience. This shift changes us so profoundly that, in a general sense, we feel as if we have a new identity, as if we have been reborn.

I wish I had realised this as my experiences happened. I struggled to the point of despair  and death to come to terms with my humanity. I failed until a spiritual mentor reminded me that though I am a spiritual being first and foremost, I am still partly human for now, with all the duties and responsibilities being human entails privately and socially. Reality’s ways are not our ways. Our ways are not Reality’s ways ….

“We do take on a new identity as the wakeful self-system emerges and replaces the old self-system of sleep. In cases of gradual spiritual awakening, this identity shift happens very slowly, as the old self-system is gradually remolded into a different form. It may not even be a noticeable symptom or sign  of spiritual awakening, except in retrospect. In sudden spiritual awakening experiences the shift is so abrupt and dramatic that many people can pinpoint the exact moment it occurs.

“In this section we’ll examine the inner changes and signs of spiritual awakening that contribute to this overall sense of becoming a completely different person.

“5. Inner Quietness
With spiritual awakening and enlightenment comes a dramatic reduction of the inner noise of our thought-chatter.

Not enough reduction for me!

“In our normal state, this streams through our mind almost constantly — a whirl of associations and images, worries and daydreams that only usually stops when our attention is absorbed in external things. This thought-chatter is such a normal part of our experience that many of us take it for granted. We’re so immersed in it — and so identified with it — that we don’t even realize it’s there, and we certainly don’t realize how powerfully it affects us. It disturbs our inner world, giving rise to negative thoughts and emotions. It disconnects us from the essence of our being, constantly reinforces our ego-identity, and strengthens our sense of separateness.

Oh yes … It’s the seminal burden of unenlightenment. But we’re getting there.  A spiritual mentor affirmed: “There are no failures …” I sense he was right.

“Almost all of the awakened individuals I spoke to described similar spiritual awakening symptoms, although with variations. Some people — a small proportion — reported that their minds had become completely quiet, with a complete cessation of thought-chatter. More typically, though, people reported that there was still some thought activity in their minds but much less than before.

Yes!

“Others reported that while thought-chatter was still there (although not as much as before), they felt less identified with it. They were able to stand back, observe their thoughts, and let them flow by without becoming immersed in or overly) affected by them.

Not as much as I’d like!

“6. Transcendence of Separation / Sense of Connection
In spiritual awakening and enlightenment, the sense of otherness between us and the world fades away. We no longer feel that we’re “in here” looking out at a world that seems to be “out there.” We no longer observe from a distance — we’re part of the flow of the world’s unfolding is-ness. Separation dissolves into connection. In the same way that we sense that all things are connected to each other, we feel that we’re connected to all things. We’re part of the oneness of all things.

“This sense of connection manifests itself in different ways and at different degrees of intensity as one of the signs of spiritual awakening. At the most basic level, a person may feel strongly connected to other human beings, other living beings in general, or to the whole natural world. A sense of connection to the spiritual force that pervades the whole universe and that forms the essence of our being may occur at higher intensities of wakefulness and is one of the main signs of spiritual awakening. In other words, we may not just be aware of this spiritual force but also feel connected to it.

“At a still higher intensity of spiritual wakefulness, a sense of connection may intensify into a sense of oneness. With this symptom of spiritual awakening, a person may feel that they exist in a state of unity with all things — even that they are all things. They may not just feel that they are one with the world but also that they actually are the world. Their sense of separation may dissolve away to the extent that there’s no distinction at all between them and what they perceive.

This is true, but getting repetitious here.

“7. Empathy and Compassion
This sense of connection is closely linked to the high levels of empathy and compassion associated with spiritual awakening. When we’re connected to other beings — animals and the natural world as well as human beings — we’re able to sense what they’re experiencing, to feel what they’re feeling. If they’re suffering, we sense it and feel the impulse to comfort them or try to alleviate their pain. We’re touched by other people’s pain because there’s no separation between our being and theirs.

“Empathy, in its deepest sense, is the ability to “feel with” other people by experiencing a shared sense of being with them. This ability to “feel with” other beings gives rise to compassion and love. Love stems from a sense of connection and oneness, a sense that you are another person — or other people — and so you belong to them and share their experience.

Compassion and empathy are fruits of the experiences but are hopeless to help humans still diseased with ego. (Many are called but few can be chosen to receive the fruits of Reality unless Reality has attended them first. The experience of Reality is caught from Reality, not taught or caught from humans).

“8. Well-Being
Well-being is perhaps the most obvious symptom of spiritual awakening generated by wakefulness.

“Awakened individuals may not live in a state of complete uninterrupted bliss, but they are generally much more content than other people. One major source of this well-being is freedom from the psychological discord that plagues human beings in our sleep state — habitual worry about the future, feelings of negativity about the past, and a general sense of unease. Spiritually awakened people are much less prone to negative states such as boredom, loneliness, and dissatisfaction. The atmosphere of their inner world is less charged with negativity and much more harmonious.

“The feeling of well-being in spiritual awakening is related to a sense of appreciation. In wakefulness, people are more likely to feel a sense of gratitude for their health, freedom, loved ones, and other good things in their lives. In our sleep state, we likely take these things for granted and fail to appreciate their true value. Appreciation is an important sign and symptom of spiritual awakening, especially in terms of well-being because it helps free us from wanting. In Buddhist terms, we become free of craving and so free of the psychological suffering this creates.

Spiritual contentment is more profound and lasting than the unreliability, the fleeting fragility of the occasionalness of happiness.

“9. Absence of (or Decreased) Fear of Death
Fear in general decreases in the wakeful state and fear of death is our most fundamental fear. The ego feels especially fragile in the face of death. The fact that death could strike us down at any moment — and will eventually reduce everything we have achieved and accumulated to nothing — creates a basic sense of meaninglessness, especially if we don’t believe in the possibility of life after death.

“This decreased fear of death is related to the transcendence of the separate ego — another sign and symptom of spiritual awakening. Because our own ego isn’t the epicenter of our universe anymore, its demise no longer seems such a tragic prospect. We know that our own death isn’t the end of all things; the world that is part of our identity will continue.

“However, perhaps the main reason why the awakened person loses fear of death is because of a different attitude toward — and understanding of — death. Spiritual awakening brings an understanding that death isn’t the end, that the essence of our being will continue to exist after the dissolution of our bodies.

“From the materialistic worldview derived from our sleep state, it seems completely clear that there’s no life after death. Our consciousness is just the product of brain activity; when our brain stops functioning, our consciousness ceases, too. But from the spiritually awakened perspective, reality is more complex than this. The essence of our being transcends our brain and our individual identity. Death isn’t the end of consciousness but a transformation of consciousness.

This is the mystic experience of birth and death, a true fruit. Birth leads to death and death to birth and so on – birth, death, birth, death etc., etc., ad infinitum,  presumably until we are just Reality.

“A New Mind: Conceptual and Cognitive Characteristics

“The conceptual symptoms of spiritual awakening we’re going to look at refer to how awakened people see themselves in relation to the world and other human beings, and how they conceive of the world and other human beings.

“10. Lack of Group Identity
In the sleep state we have a strong tendency to identify ourselves, to give ourselves labels in order to enhance our fragile sense of self. We like to define ourselves in terms of our religion, ethnicity, nationality, and political affiliation, and also by the labels of our careers, achievements, and qualifications. Defining ourselves in these ways gives us a sense of belonging, and bolsters our egos. We feel that we’re not alone; we’re part of something bigger than ourselves.

“In spiritual awakening experiences this need for identity and belonging fades away.

Definitely a fruit of the experience of Reality.  Human efforts to create ideologies based on collectivism/communalism always fall under the weight of their ignorance of Reality’s exclusive relationship with the individual.

“People no longer feel affiliated with any particular religion or nationality, just as they no longer feel defined by their careers or their achievements. They no longer feel that they are Americans or Jews or scientists or socialists. They don’t feel any pride in their nationalities, ethnicities, or qualifications. And they don’t have a sense of otherness or feel enmity to members of other groups. They feel that such labels are superficial and meaningless. They don’t see any difference between Americans or Iraqis, Christians, or Muslims; they treat all people with equal respect. If they see themselves with any kind of identity, it’s as global citizens, inhabitants of the planet Earth, beyond nationality or border.

The text here is getting intrusively anthropomorphic and false …

“Another sign of a spiritually awakened individual is that they often have a similar attitude toward different spiritual traditions, too. Even if they are affiliated with a particular tradition, they don’t feel that this tradition is the only true and valid one, as religious fundamentalists do. As a sign of spiritual awakening, they have an open and ecumenical attitude, and they recognize that different traditions are simply expressions of the same underlying truths.

Definitely anthropomorphically off topic. The experiences of Reality do not come to make us better humans, though that might be seen as automatic, axiomatic, a useful side product.

“11. Wide Perspective: A Universal Outlook
As a sign of spiritual awakening, awakened individuals have a wide sense of perspective, a macrocosmic outlook. They aren’t preoccupied with their personal problems and concerns to the exclusion of everything else. They know they’re not the center of the universe.

It took me some time to recognise my macrocosmic view of existence as compared to the personal, ego dominated microscopic view of most humans.

“This means that they have a spiritual awareness of the wider impact of their individual actions. They’re aware of how their life choices affect others, or the earth itself, and so are more likely to live ethically and responsibly. For example, they may decide not to buy or use goods that are produced by exploited workers or oppressive regimes. Aware of how their own lifestyle could contribute to damage to the environment, they’re more likely to adopt an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

“This wide perspective that occurs as a common symptom of spiritual awakening also means that, for spiritually awakened individuals, social or global issues are as real and important as their own personal concerns. They’re likely to feel a sense of concern for oppressed groups, social problems like poverty and inequality, or global problems like climate change and the extinction of other species.

I doubt this is a true fruit, more what our ancestors would call “a devilish diversion” into the anthropomorphic.  Jesus and many other mystics fell into this trap of thinking the experiences come to make us better humans. They all failed in such missions, suffered disastrously at the hands of humans as a result. The experiences of Reality come to reassert our true being, not condemn us to our present state. There are far more important things going on beyond our understanding than being merely human.

“12. Heightened Sense of Morality
This wide sense of perspective has moral implications. As we have seen, awakened people tend to be more ethical and responsible, more compassionate and altruistic. But awakening also fosters a more all-encompassing and unconditional type of morality. Awakened individuals don’t practice moral exclusion; that is, they don’t just show concern and kindness toward people with whom they share superficial similarities of religion or ethnicity but extend their benevolence to all human beings indiscriminately.

This text is getting disastrously off topic into human affairs again! This is a fatal spiritual flaw.

“Another moral spiritual awakening symptom is that the awakened person’s sense of right and wrong (or good and bad) isn’t culturally determined but stems from an innate knowing, a deep moral certainty that transcends their own self-interest and culture. For spiritually awakened individuals, justice and fairness are universal principles that transcend laws or conventions. They may even break laws and potentially sacrifice their own well-being — perhaps even their lives — in order to uphold moral principles.

Definitely. Difficult to apply socially however!  Mystic outspokenness has not been well treated in the past.

“13. Appreciation and Curiosity
In the sleep state, the process of familiarization that switches off our attention to the phenomenal world acts on our conceptual awareness, too. It switches off our attention to things we should ideally feel grateful for. I call this the “taking for granted syndrome,” which means that rather than feeling grateful for what we have, we feel dissatisfied, which is not one of the symptoms of spiritual awakening. Rather than appreciating what we have, we want more.

“But awakened individuals do feel grateful after a spiritual awakening. They don’t get used to the good things in their lives once they’ve had them for a while. They appreciate the value of their health and their freedom, the beauty and benevolence of their partners, and the innocence and radiance of their children. They have the ability to count their blessings, no matter how long they have had them. They feel a profound sense of gratitude for small and simple experiences, which is one of the primary signs of spiritual awakening.

“This sense of appreciation also leads to curiosity and openness. Because awakened people don’t take life itself for granted, they are always open to the new and unfamiliar. They don’t feel satisfied with what they already know and never feel that their understanding of the world is complete. They’re eager to explore new ideas and skills, take on new challenges, travel to new places, and so on. This is another way in which they’re similar to children. The world is a fascinating place as a result of a spiritual awakening, and they’re keen to explore it more deeply.

This part of the text is utterly irrelevant, pure misguided lapse into anthropomorphism again! Mystics are not interested in an appreciation of the world and this is not what the experiences are all about.  Reality is infinitely more relevant.

“A New Life: Behavioral Characteristics

“The behavioral characteristics we’re going to examine now are the outward expression of the perceptual, affective, and conceptual symptoms of spiritual awakening we’ve looked at already. They are the fruits of those inner changes, expressing themselves in terms of new traits, habits, and ways of living.

“14. Altruism and Engagement
Spiritually developed individuals are commonly believed to be detached from the world and not particularly concerned about what is happening in it. Their spiritual enlightenment supposedly makes them indifferent to the trials and tribulations of ordinary people in everyday life. We imagine them sitting on mountaintops or in monasteries, basking in their own self-realization.

“In my research on spiritual awakening, I’ve consistently found the opposite to this kind of detachment — spiritually awakened individuals tend to become more altruistic. Altruism is the natural fruit of the awakened person’s strong capacity for compassion, their universal outlook, and their innate sense of justice. The following signs and symptoms of spiritual awakening are often present: We feel a strong impulse to alleviate other people’s suffering and to help people fulfill their potential. We have a strong idealistic desire to change the world for the better, an impulse to serve other people and contribute to the human race in some way. We may feel a sense of mission, to help the human race move through our present phase of chaos and crisis into a new era of harmony.

I am deeply suspicious about the intrusion of altruistic case histories being quoted here. They sound like perversions of Reality. They smell of mind stuff, emotion – anthropomorphism, the influence of mythomanic Christian religion. None of this is a fruit of the true experience of Reality. Reality shows little or no special interest in the miniscule existence of humankind. This intrusion is an imposition of human culture, morality and ethics, mind stuff  – human, not spiritual. Reality does not come to save the world, though that may be a by-product. Reality is the world and the world is It. It comes only for the elucidation of individuals for purposes we don’t know for certain yet.


“15. Enjoyment of Inactivity: The Ability to “Be”
Awakened individuals love doing nothing. They relish solitude, quietness, and inactivity. In my book Back to Sanity I suggest that this is one of the most obvious differences between living in a state of “humania” — that is, our normal state of human madness — and in a state of inner harmony. In humania, which is equivalent to a state of sleep, people find it difficult to do nothing or be alone with themselves because this means facing the discord of their own being and the turbulence of their thoughts.

“As a result, they feel compelled to seek distractions and activities — that is, external things in which to immerse their attention — so that their attention doesn’t turn inward, into their own being. But in a state of harmony, which is equivalent to wakefulness, this isn’t necessary. We can rest contentedly within our own being because there’s no turbulence or discord inside us. This is another one of the signs and symptoms of spiritual awakening. We don’t need to constantly do things just for the sake of it or constantly supply ourselves with distractions. Rather than fear quietness and inactivity, we enjoy them deeply because they allow us to touch into the radiance of our own well-being.

Very true in my case.

“16. Beyond Accumulation and Attachment / Nonmaterialism
In wakefulness, the impulse to accumulate falls away. It’s no longer important for us to try to accumulate possessions, wealth, status, success, or power during spiritual enlightenment. In sleep, the urge to accumulate is a response to our sense of incompleteness and fragility. We try to bolster our sense of self by adding possessions, achievements, and power, in the same way that an insecure king continually builds up a castle and reinforces its walls.

“Similarly, we become overly attached to preexisting aspects of our identity, such as our appearance or our intellect. We derive a sense of specialness from them, which also serves to reinforce our fragile sense of self. But these efforts are no longer necessary when we wake up because that sense of incompleteness and vulnerability no longer exists.

True for me …

“Awakening brings a shift away from accumulation to contribution. The energy that people invested to try to alleviate their own psychological suffering is now redirected to try to alleviate the sufferings of others. As Marcus aptly described one of the signs of spiritual awakening, there’s a shift in focus from “what I can get from life to what I can give to life.”

Absolutely not in my case. Reality is in charge – All Is Well. Reality comes to bring us to our true selves, not to distract us with the impermanences of humankind. This is misdirection.

“17. Autonomy: Living More Authentically
In the sleep state, most people are products of the environment they are born into. They tend to conform to the values of their cultures and happily go along with the kinds of lifestyles that are expected of them. But awakened individuals tend to experience symptoms of spiritual awakening in which they are more autonomous and inner-directed. They feel less identified with their culture’s values; they are likely to reject them in favor of following their own impulses. They have greater confidence in their choices and preferences, and are more liable (partly because of their inner security) to stand by them, even in the face of ridicule or hostility. They live their lives according to their own sense of what is right, rather than trying to please others or doing what is expected of them.

“People often realize that, prior to spiritual awakening, they weren’t really living their own lives but largely just following social conventions or trying to please other people. But after awakening it becomes much more important for them to live authentically and follow their own impulses. Other people may see them as rebels or eccentrics because they’re liable to disregard social norms and trends. They’re likely to reject the consumerist and status-oriented values of their culture in favor of a life of simplicity. They have little interest in watching the latest popular television shows, acquiring the latest gadgets or goods, or trying to impress people with their appearance, their status, or their sophistication. Along with these spiritual awakening signs and symptoms, they may shock others with their unconventionality and their willingness to contradict consensus opinions.

Yes. Very true. But so what? The author wants us to apologise for our experiences of Reality?

“18. Enhanced, More Authentic Relationships
In some cases, friends and relatives resent spiritually awake people’s new authentic way of living and misinterpret it as selfishness. This contributes to relationship problems that can occur after spiritual awakening. In general, though, awakened individuals feel that their relationships deepen and become more fulfilling. The authenticity of their lifestyle also expresses itself in more authentic relationships.

“Relationships deepen for awakened people partly due to their increased empathy and compassion, which means that they become more tolerant and understanding and less judgmental. As a result of some degree of spiritual enlightenment, awakened individuals are less likely to react with hostility and animosity to others, and less likely to initiate conflict.

“There’s certainly a connection between deeper relationships and inner security, too. If we’re insecure, our social interactions are usually self-centered. We’re concerned with making good impressions, saying the right things and behaving in the right ways. We often wear social masks to try to make ourselves seem more charming or interesting. But if we feel secure within ourselves, as spiritually awakened individuals do, this self-centeredness and role-playing falls away. We shift our focus away from ourselves and give our full attention to the people we’re with.

WARNING: This section above is pure twaddle, anthropomorphism at it’s worst. Words like “relationships”, “selfishness” are a giveaway to the author’s entanglement in worldy cultural emphases, non spiritual social “buzzwords” of the day.

” “The authenticity of their lifestyle also expresses itself in more authentic relationships” conveys a profoundly off topic, untruthful nonsense that is totally non mystic. No true mystic could ever seek “authentic relationships” apart from his or her authentic relationship with their experience of Reality. The very idea is truly oxymoronic. Humans are not the be all and end all of existence  – Reality is.

Mysticexperiences.net

  

 

ARE THE HUMAN OR MYSTIC EXPERIENCES ILLUSIONARY?

 

Some scientists say existence is a construct of the brain.

Others seem to assume the brain is just an inert fleshy mud that is activated to receive knowledge, or is made conscious of a reality of material existence, (matter).

Others suggest the brain receives and transmits consciousness of a “spiritual” reality.

However, the mystic receives knowledge of a completely independent existence separate from brain or matter. Nothing in the mystic experience suggests to the mystic that anything human, neither the brain, heart or stomach are involved in the transmission of that knowledge or is of any consequence to the mystic, any more than what makes a car go when the driver turns a key or presses a button or whether the car is using gas, natural gas, electricity or charcoal.

Some scientific thinking seems to suggest scientists are only mechanics at heart, the wheel still central to their thinking?

So the answer to the question, “ARE THE HUMAN OR MYSTIC EXPERIENCES ILLUSIONARY?” is – No, the things we call illusions, such as human (matter) or mystical (“spiritual”) experiences of existence, do exist. But despite all the assumptions and intuitions aboutning, including the one I feel good about that humans are evolving into pure spirit, like butterflies from a chrysalis, it seems no one can be empirically sure yet.

In the meantime, I take great comfort from the spoken lesson of my MERs (Mystical Experiences of Reality) that All Is Well. I take that to be meant as a comfort to me, that everything is as it should be and humans are not in charge.

Mysticexperiences.net

“MANMUKH” vs. “MINDFULNESS”

 

The word mindfulness is “manmukh” and can be safely ignored as a spiritual distraction.

(My teacher used this – Sanscrit? Urdu? – word to describe anything human).

Anything human is a distraction from the spiritual way. The spiritual way is human destiny.

So my teacher abjured us to use “manmukh” as a navigational tool of discrimination and discernment, to enable us to keep humaness, “manmukh” at arms length.

However, our dwindling personal humanity was not to ignore the need to be mindful of our duties while here as sons, daughters, nephews and nieces, neighbours, friends, colleagues, patriots etc, though not to let any of these potential hindrances distract us from our spiritual way.

(Personally, I have now used “manmukh” to steer me through the Gordian knot of human experiences with a personal mantra to meet my human duties by being Legal, Decent, and Honest, but that’s all – no further attachments, just legal, decent and honest).

Detachment, discrimination is key. This is the truth of spiritual mindfulness, in my experiences of the mystical experiences of Reality.

Mysticexperiences.net

TEN SIGNS OF SPIRITUAL AWAKENING?

Reposted from The Guides with review comments in bold:

Here are 10 “unmistakable” signs of spiritual awakening:

1. A strong feeling that something major has changed inside you. You must have experienced something that forced your soul to wake up and show you the truth and this truth was so shocking to you that you could feel deep inside that you had been living in an illusion all this while. With time, you start feeling that you have changed as a person. You are transforming into someone you never imagined you could be. You become a better person and you can feel that.

Different words but somewhat similar to my experiences, except for the bit about becoming a “better person”. Becoming a better person is only a human ambition.

2. You start questioning the purpose of your life

 

Oh yes! Bewilderingly so… I feel stranded here.

Despite possessing everything that you need, you still feel incomplete and unaware. You desperately want to know the meaning of this world and the purpose of your life.You start questioning God, you start finding answers to afterlife, soul, spirituality and desire lasting happiness.

Yes, more or less. But there was no god in any of my experiences. I also prefer contentment to happiness, contentment is more profound and permanent than happiness.

 

3. You naturally start distancing yourself from people with whom your thoughts don’t match. These people can be the ones you were the closest to. After the awakening process has set in, your soul has already reached a higher vibrational frequency and therefore, cannot match up with the souls of lower frequency. People start telling you that you have changed, but you know that this is not a change but just your soul waking up! Slowly, your old relations break and new begin that help your soul to grow further.

Absolutely. At last count I have cut over 100 close friends and relatives from my life since my experiences. Their worldliness was oppressive. Cutting them out brought instant relief. The process continues to this day …

4. You become absolutely disinterested or at least less interested in materialistic aspects. Shopping, hanging out with friends, partying, wearing expensive clothes or decorating the house with expensive furniture etc, become alien to you. You want to indulge in soul-enriching activities like travelling, meditating, taking care of your physical, emotional and spiritual health like never before and the like. You don’t even feel like doing your regular job and look for doing things which have some purpose. This often makes you pursue your dreams because you realize how short life is and how much is to be learnt and done.

Absolutely, except for “pursuing dreams”. That sounds worldly. I have no earthly ambitions except to be self reliant. Otherwise all the world gets from me is legality, decency and honesty. I avoid all other attachments and human expectations.

5. You realize your earlier mistakes and negative habits

The mistakes that you made in the past haunt you to make you feel guilty. Your old negative habits like judging people, mocking people, back-biting, being selfish, talking rude etc. stand like humongous walls in front of you which you sense you need to break in order to see the good in you. These keep haunting you until you forgive yourself for what you did and try being a better person.

True, except for the trying to be a better person bit… though I do think it is axiomatic, automatic that you become increasingly detached from lust, anger, greed, attachments and ego in all their human personifications.

6. You are constantly sad/depressed about the what’s happening in the world.

Even if it’s just a TV news channel showing a murder or a newspaper mentioning the deteriorating climatic conditions, you feel utterly depressed, you feel like doing something to help people around you, to make this world a better place to live. You want to alleviate the world’s suffering by doing something, anything that you possibly can. This can even overwhelm you to such an extent that you start crying and feel as if all this is happening to you.

True, except for the crying bit. Thankfully the world is not as primitive as it used to be and more humans, still in a primitive state of development, have nevertheless never had it so good, despite passing appearances and hysterical reactions. All is well.

7. You become a healer. Every spiritually awakened person has the potential to become a spiritual healer. A spiritual healer is someone who has the power to spiritually and emotionally heal people. By this I mean, you feel like motivating and inspiring people, in fact, you might even develop the power of pulling away emotional blockage from people.

No, I am not aware of any personal healing properties. I know what people have to do to be content but have come to the conclusion only one in a million could benefit from any advice about it in their present state of unawareness of Reality. In any case Reality is in charge. Interference in Reality’s process by religions, isms, politics and ideologies is what currently ails the human race. These sociological human traits always fail. Reality is all there is. It is inexorable. It never fails. (And it only works with individuals). All is well.

8. You develop a very strong 6th sense. Your intuition suddenly gets alert.The universe, through your intuition will try to send you messages in the form of synchronicity (11.11, 22.22. and other number symbols) on clocks, roads, street signs, lift floor numbers, number on bills etc. that might click something in you to tell you that this has some meaning to it that you must pay attention to, these messages can also be in the form of prophetic dreams for not just yourself but also for the people that you know, meeting like minded people and people who are experiencing spiritual awakening etc. All this helps you in moving ahead in your journey of spiritual awakening.

In comparison with others I notice I have this ability somewhat, so instinctively avoid noisy “spiritual sleepwalkers” and threatening or unpleasant situations. I used it to develop the ability to disguise myself with small talk in my forties, with gratifying results when forced to deal with humans. Some wisdom schools call this particular use of the sixth sense “the cloak of invisibility”.

9. You get strongly connected to nature. You feel like being close to nature. You might feel like moving out of cities to live in the suburbs, or travel to places that are close to nature. You develop strong love for animals, you want to pet them or help them in some way.

Long, solo overnight sailing cruises have given me the most spiritually profound, satisfying days of my life – land based life not so much.

10. You experience physical changes. Spiritual awakening is like a nuclear bomb of energy as a result of which you may experience many physical changes like you may experience extreme weight gain or loss, tingling sensation at the top of your head, your sleeping pattern may get badly disrupted. You may feel excessively sleepy or not sleepy at all or feel like sleeping and waking up at odd hours of the day. Your appetite might also decrease, you might have frequent pain on the back of your neck and shoulder(s) and tingling sensation in your fingers.

Can’t say any of this applies to me.

10. You develop a creative personality. Suddenly, out of nowhere, you start getting a rush of creativity which could come out in the form painting, writing, poetry, pottery, tarot reading, travelling, playing any musical instrument, singing etc. You become gutsy and get the strength to dream again and dream big and not only that, you get the courage to fulfill them as well. The latter part comes in the later stages of awakening. In the very beginning you might feel the exact opposite, you might feel utterly hopeless or even suicidal, but as you progress in your journey all this pain subsides and you get the courage to fulfill your dreams.

Some creativeness was one of the lifesaving attributes I was graced with to endure being marooned here. As for having human dreams/ambitions, being graced with spirituality excluded such irrelevant personal attachments.

11. You accept yourself for who you are and don’t stop yourself from being your actual self. You feel free!

No matter for how long you have been willingly trying to be what others wanted you to, once your soul is awakened, you can no longer contain yourself from loving your actual identity. You stop caring of what people have to say about you and do only what gives you happiness. Despite going through myriad of sudden physical, emotional changes you have a strange feeling of being free, as if you have been set free. You start realizing that there’s only one true asset in life and that is eternal happiness.

Freedom is a human word with no relevance in the limitlessness of the mystical experience of Reality (MER) if my MER experiences are anything to go by.

Mysticalexperiences.net 2018

UNFOLDMENT

“At some point in the unfoldment process the individual chooses to embrace an integrity that transcends opinion, belief, religion, culture, language, and everything that we’ve ever been taught.”

From Inspirience: Meditation Unbound: The Unconditioned Path to Spiritual Awakening by Richard L. Haight.

Publisher’s note: In my annual experiences of MER there was no question of any choice in embracing what was happening to me spontaneously, then or since.

Mysticexperiences.net

LIFE’S TRUE PURPOSE?

“It is the spiritual life which gives true purpose to our human lives. It is spiritual life which continues after this brief stay on Earth.

“It is the spirit in each of us which unites us with the spirit in All: all people, all sentient beings, all seemingly inanimate objects, and the divine.” –  R.D. Krumpos

From, “The Greatest Achievement in Life” by R. D. Krumpos. This short, comprehensive account of living mysticism today can be found at suprarational.org. The book is a comprehensive account of mysticism experienced today.

Mysticexperiences.net

ARE SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES BECOMING MORE COMMON?

A Review of an article in Psychology Today by Dr. Steve Taylor, author of the Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening.

MER’s review comments are in bold type:

What are spiritual experiences? I don’t think of them in religious terms. I see them as moments in which our awareness becomes more intense and more expansive than normal, so that the world around us becomes more real and alive, and we feel a strong sense of connection to nature and other human beings.

These attachments were not true of my experiences.

We might feel a sense of joy or inner stillness, and feel that somehow the world around us is “in harmony” or has a meaning that we find difficult to express.

Yes, but not just “the world”, everything.

If a person from a religious background has such an experience, they may well interpret it in religious terms. They might see it as a gift from God, and believe that the aliveness and harmony they perceive is a glimpse of the divine, or of heaven.

But if you’re not religious, there’s no reason to think in these terms. The experience is just a psychological one. It suggests that our normal vision of the world is limited and in some ways even aberrational.

In awakening experiences, there is a strong sense of ‘seeing more,’ of expanding beyond limits and perceiving a more authentic reality.

Yes! Very much so.

My research shows that awakening experiences are connected to certain activities and situations. They are associated with contact with nature, spiritual practices such as meditation or prayer, sporting activities (such as running and swimming), and sex. They are also strongly associated with states of intense psychological turmoil. That is, paradoxically, they often occur in the midst of stress and depression, or in relation to traumatic life events such as illness, divorce or bereavement.

None of my experiences of the mystical experience of Reality were associated with any of the activities and situations suggested here.

However, one of the most interesting things about these experiences is that they are apparently becoming more common.

In a 1962 Gallup poll, just 22 percent of Americans reported that they had “ever had a religious or mystical experience.” In 1994, 33 percent of people answered yes to the same question, while by 2009, the figure had risen to 49 percent.

Research by the Pew Research Center in the U.S. has shown a similar trend. In 2007, 52 percent of Americans reported that they regularly felt a “deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being.” In 2014, the figure stood at 59 percent. In 2007, 39 percent of Americans said that the regularly felt a “deep sense of wonder about the universe”—a figure which had increased to 46 percent in 2014.

Perhaps significantly, these increases coincided closely with a decrease in interest in organized religion.

In the U.K., the surveys of the Spiritual Experience Research Centre have had similar findings. In a 1969 survey, the question “Have you ever experienced a presence or power, whether you call it God or not, which is different from your everyday self?” was answered affirmatively by 29 percent of people.

In 1978, the figure had risen to 36 percent, and then to 48 percent in 1987. In 2000, there was a further steep rise to 75 percent—a 27 percent increase in 13 years (which was, coincidentally or not, exactly the same figure by which church attendance declined over the same period). (1)

A Collective Movement?

Why should spiritual experiences be more common now than they were a few decades ago? It could simply be that people are simply getting better at recognizing them, or are more open about discussing them.

A lot of historically known mystics had no choice but to keep quiet about their experiences or take the consequences from the brutal conventional religions of their day.

Now that there is more general awareness of spirituality in our culture, and concepts such as “spiritual peace and well-being” are a more common part of discourse, it could simply be that more people are describing their experiences in this way, when they might have described them in other terms in earlier decades.

Or perhaps it’s right to take the research at its face value. Perhaps spiritual experiences actually are becoming more common. This is the approach I take in my new book The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening.

It is hard to tell if the good doctor is actually talking about mystics and the mystical experience of Reality that defines mystics as mystics.

I suggest that spiritual experiences are glimpses of a new state of being that is slowly becoming more normal to human beings. This is a higher-functioning state that I call “wakefulness,” in which a person feels an enhanced sense of well-being, clarity, and connection.

This is certainly a partial view of the traditional mystic experience.

They have a more intense awareness of the world around them, a greater sense of appreciation of nature, a broad global outlook, and an all-embracing sense of empathy with the whole human race. In many ways, it is a permanent, ongoing variant of the ‘awakening experience.’

Empathy with the human race is certainly not where my experiences have lead me. Humanity as a collective is at a very primitive state of Realisation (or cosmic consciousnesses).

I have found many examples of people who shift into this higher-functioning state in the midst of intense psychological turmoil – for example, bereavement, serious illness, or alcoholism—I describe some of these examples in The Leap.

If true, such descriptions would make their “experiences” suspect, very anthropological, not mystical experiences of Reality at all.

This shift is quite common, and can be seen as a variation of “post-traumatic growth”—I sometimes refer to it as “post-traumatic transformation.”

There are also hundreds of millions of people around the world who are gradually cultivating wakefulness by following spiritual practices such as meditation and service, or spiritual paths such as Buddhism, Yoga, or the Kabbalah.

The mystical experience of Reality cannot be evangelised or experienced from books or religions. The ancient and modern records of the phenomena of MER suggests the experience is caught, not taught. That’s certainly my experience.

A constantly increasing interest in self-development, spiritual practices, and traditions is one of the most significant cultural trends of our time.

Beware of such cultural “trends”. Reality is not interested in human “culture” if my experiences are anything to go by.

It seems to me that there is a collective moment towards awakening, which is manifesting itself in a variety of ways—one of which may be the increasing frequency of spiritual experiences.

(1) I am grateful to my fellow author Jules Evans for bringing my attention to this research.

Steve Taylor PhD is a senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University, UK. He is the author of The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening.
Source: Psychology Today

THE TREND FROM RELIGIONS TO ‘INDIVIDUAL SPIRITUALITY’*

Is this seemingly spontaneous trend leaping out of the religious frying pan into the ‘human-spirit’ fire …?

Is it missing the phenomena of the mystic experience of Reality (MER) that drives human evolution?

Perhaps mysticism being hidden behind the secret password of ‘direct experience’ makes such oversight inevitable …

So perhaps the only solace in this current trend is its emphasis on the individual. Perhaps it’s the inevitable human flight from failed collectivism which is the antithesis of ultimately real human evolution.

Aren’t Ananias and Sapphira of the bible and today’s massively failed national attempts at collectivism a warning wreckage?

Individualism is the essence of my mystical experiences of Ultimate Reality.

So perhaps the current trend away from religions to individuality is significant enough, for now – a step along the way.

*See ‘Spiritual but not religious’ on Wikipedia for a comprehensive study of the trend.

Mysticexperiences.net

“CLEVER” MER IS NOT A SCIENCE

 

The mystical experience of Reality is not a human science. It isn’t reproducible, as science demands. It does reproduce, but not by human will or experimentation.

For some as yet unknown reason the phenomena is guarded by a ‘key’ made only available to some humans throughout human history who seem not to have any discernible qualification to experience this increasingly scientifically studied phenomena. (Eg., over six thousand case histories were archived by Oxford University and are now archived under a Templeton grant at Wales University). This ‘key’ is: The Mystical Experience of Reality (MER), the EXPERIENCE being the ‘key’

The Experience seems to be fully guarded by the absolute necessity to experience It. Clever.

Everything else but this personal experience is a distraction, a contaminant, I.e.: Conjecture, experiment, logic, reason, books, courses, lectures, studies, practices, religions, foolishness, mythomania, charlatanry and dogma, even being sincere though sincerely wrong.

There is much confusion between understanding the difference between the human spirit and the Ultimate Spirit of Reality. Each are entirely different in my mystical experiences. In many ways the human spirit spins the veils between the two.

Some think that on the growing evidence, the human condition is getting more spiritually evolved as intended. So will science eventually join the exterminated by then anyway?

Mysticexperiences.net

SCIENCE ON THE WAY OUT?

The thought occurred to me that science will eventually devolve into mere technology, possibly with fringe philosophical affiliations.

It will feel at home there where only matter can be experimented with, not spirit.

Spirit is exclusively represented by the mystical experience of Reality, MER, which is probably not even exclusive to humans, and anyway only accessible by experience not experiment.

Probably this is not a new revelation, though it’s not yet as mainstream as it will become.

Mysticalexperiences.net

ULTIMATE REALITY – male or female?

 

In my 15 years of experiencing the mystical experience of Reality, (MER), several times a year I never came across anything masculine or feminine in the experiences – there were no names in this simple perfection – everything just was and I was that.

There was nothing hermaphrodite in my experiences either, though that too, like gender, is a real material condition here on earth.

So my impression is that neither gender, sex nor even being human have anything to do with the Mystical Experience of Reality as I experienced It, not even with the human adulterated word, “spirituality” in all its forms.

Mysticexperiences.net

SUFI “WILD UTTERANCES”

“We give out strange phrases to ordinary people because our experiences cannot be put in their ordinary phrases. I have known that which cannot be described, through and through, and that which is in it overwhelms all ordinary definition.” – Ibn Atta, Sufi.

From The Way of the Sufi by Idries Shah. Iries Shah is the late thinker, writer, and teacher in the Sufi mystical tradition. He wrote over three dozen books on topics ranging from psychology and spirituality to travelogues and culture studies. The Idries Shah Foundation (ISF) is an independent educational and cultural charity, set up by his family to ensure his spiritual works live on.

SPIRITUALITY VS RELIGION: THE FUTURE OF TRUTH AND MEANING

 

This is a Reblog of a post by Giovanni Dienstmann (See the original post here)

This Reblog is a precise but comprehensive assessment, a clear recognition of the essence of humanity’s evolution.

 

As a child and teenager, I never had any interest in religion—yet later on I discovered that I had in me the inclination to become a deeply spiritual man. That inclination was not being triggered by the religious dogmas and practices that I was exposed to, so I felt it simply wasn’t for me. At that time I was not aware of the distinctions of spirituality vs religion.

I grew up in a regular, mildly religious middle-class family. My parents identified themselves as Christians, but they didn’t really go to church. My dad wanted me to go through catechism classes, but he never forced me to—I just attended one, because he insisted, but felt no pull to continue. For me, religion was something boring and lifeless, something that old people did.

On the other hand, once I discovered spirituality, it fired me up in life. It gave me meaning, direction and purpose. It helped me to grow as a person. It gave me tools to overcome the worst in myself, to develop myself, and to explore the transcendental aspects of our existence.

The fire for spirituality—for deeper meaning, direction and truth—is inherent in all people. For some of us, it is drowned by cynicism, skepticism, and scientific materialism; for others, it is expressed in limiting ways through a blind religious faith. Happy are those who recognize and own this drive, keeping it pure and letting it guide their lives in a constructive way.

There can be spirituality without religion, religion without spirituality, and religion and spirituality together—it depends on what you want, and how you approach it.

In this article I will compare and contrast religion and spirituality, exploring the differences and similarities between them. The goal is not to put anyone down, but to bring clarity as to the differences, so you can follow your spirituality in the most empowering way possible for you—linked to a specific religion or not.

Spirituality vs Religion

Spirituality vs Religion: The Future of Truth and MeaningWhat is religion, and what is spirituality? They have a common subject-matter, but their approaches are very different.

Both religion and spirituality teach that there is more to the universe than what meets the eye, and more to our life than the physical body. Both agree that there are non-physical elements to the universe, and to our existence, and that unless we consciously connect with them, we will never be truly fulfilled in life.

The core difference between religion and spirituality is that religion presents you a set of beliefs, dogmas and “holy men” as intermediaries between you and Spirit (however you may name it); while spirituality promotes your individual autonomy in defining and connecting to Spirit as it fits your heart and mind.

As I mentioned above, religion and spirituality can be together. Many people find spirituality inside their religion, and for them these differences may not be so relevant or true, since the two things are mixed. But for those interested in pure spirituality, regardless of religious affiliation, let me expand on the difference between religion and spirituality in a quote:

Religion asks you to believe. Spirituality asks you to look.

Religion has dogmas. Spirituality has wisdom teachings.

Religion wants obedience. Spirituality wants experimentation.

Religion speaks of sin and hell. Spirituality speaks of karma.

Religion wants to comfort you. Spirituality wants to liberate you.

Religion is external. Spirituality is internal.

Religion is the form. Spirituality is the essence.

Religion wants to convert you. Spirituality wants to inspire you.

Religion is an institution. Spirituality is a journey.

Religion promotes shame and guilt. Spirituality promotes self-honesty and awareness.

Religion asks you to sacrifice your present attachments for a promised future. Spirituality asks you to let go of your present attachments for a better present.

Spirituality is the true essence, and the true origin, of every religious movement. So how is it that eventually spirituality gets the back seat, and what we are mostly left with are dogmas and empty rituals?

Buddha was not Buddhist; Jesus was not Christian. They were highly realized spiritual men; they were spiritual but not religious! They had a group of disciples who were also, in great part, moved by a spiritual search. But as centuries pass, as the groups start increasing and social acceptance grows, people who are not really burning with that spiritual drive start joining in and redefining the movement.

They join because it feels noble to do so, or because their parents expect, or because they were born poor and at least in the church/monastery there are meals every day. Or maybe they just needed the consolation and comfort that religion can give, to find shelter from the suffering of life, and a respectable position in society.

This is not a criticism nor a judgment of character, but just a description of how, by becoming more popular and accepted by society, the spiritual element of each religious movement gets watered down or distorted, and what is left is a social institution. Teachings become dogmas, principles become moral rules, spiritual practice becomes ritual, experiences become stories—in short, spirituality becomes religion. What was once private and intimate becomes a social institution.

The difference between religion and spirituality is not so much about what you believe—but about how you live, and what is your attitude. In any of the spiritual/religious traditions on Earth, you will find a majority of people who follow it as a religion, and a minority who follows it as a spiritual path.

Both religion and spirituality have their function in the world; but they are usually different things for different people. Understanding their differences helps to define what you are practicing, and if it is serving you well.

Spirituality in the Age of Science

Since the time of the European Enlightenment in the 17th century, the role and dominion of religion seem to be steadily diminishing (at least in the western world). Since we entered the so-called “age of reason”, with the ability of science to explain and transform reality around us constantly increasing, and the general level of education also rising for everyone, people feel less drawn to seek organized religion as a tool for explaining the world and creating well-being.

And yet we humans have this inherent thirst for meaning in life, for a higher purpose, and for strong principles to lead our living—whether individually or socially. Here is the role of spirituality in the third millennium.

We live in an age of overindulgence, of instant gratification. We have more physical comforts, entertainment and knowledge than ever before in history. This is certainly a result of the advances in science and technology in the past century.

But why then…

  • are mental health problems on the rise as never before?
  • do many of us feel an emptiness inside, a lack of real fulfillment and contentment, even if we have financial security, stable income, a good family, plenty of comfort and an established career?
  • no matter how much we acquire in our material life, and how much we understand about the physical universe around us, there is still a deeper itch that is never scratched?

Here is the role of spirituality in the third millennium. Spirituality fills the gaps left behind both by organized religion and by scientific materialism.

Nowadays we cannot believe the dogmas of religion anymore—not like before. But when living life from the point of view that science is the only valid way of determining truth, we find ourselves in a cold, mechanistic, and indifferent universe. This leads to nihilism, cynicism, and lack of meaning in life.

“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” — Albert Einstein

I believe that spirituality—in its myriad expressions—is the best means to give meaning to human life. It is also the strongest basis for human goodness and ethical conduct in society. Without spirituality, often all the morality we are left with is the law, and there is really no reason why one should not “do anything one can get away with.”

[I’m not alone in this point of view at all. Professor Jordan Petersen eloquently defends the point of view that religious values are what keeps our morality and social order together. Also, historians Will Durant and Ariel Durant, analyzing the patterns throughout 10,000 years of human history, conclude that no real morality is possible without the “supernatural basis of spirituality”.]

  • Religion says that truth is what the scriptures say, and you must believe it.
  • Science says that truth is only the facts that can be experimentally proven through measuring devices, equations, and reason.
  • Spirituality says that reason is not the only means of knowing, but that this doesn’t mean one needs to have blind faith in religious doctrines either. We accept how little we know about the universe and about ourselves, and explore a deeper meaning in life through tools such as meditation, contemplation, self-exploration—and also reason, scriptures, altered states of consciousness, and anything we can get hold of.

Therefore, the final difference between religion and spirituality is that spirituality can dialogue with science, while religion can’t. Indeed, the whole meditation and mindfulness movement in the past couple of decades is a result of this dialogue—science investigating spiritual practices.

This is just the beginning of a new era, when science and spirituality work together.

Look at the consciousness as a function of matter and you have science; look at matter as the product of consciousness and you have spirituality. — Nisargadatta Maharaj

Science and spirituality each have their own domains of knowledge, their own unique methods and purposes. They both are good at different things, and they both need each other.

  • Spirituality is concerned with finding subjective truths, meaning, connection and fulfillment. Its subject matter is human growth, happiness, and transcendence.
  • Science is concerned with finding objective truths about the external world. Its subject matter is knowledge, information, invention.

Much of the knowledge that science has, at any given time, may be proved wrong—or at least flawed and incomplete—a hundred years later; but it’s what we have to work with. Likewise, the meanings created by spirituality may evolve, but we must work with what we have at this moment, so long that it is functional. (I digress)

This seems to be the direction we are moving towards: a spirituality informed by science, and a science informed by spirituality. Science will clean up spirituality of superstitions; and spirituality will elevate science, making it review some of its materialistic assumptions. The eastern concepts of meditation, karma, reincarnation, and enlightenment will play an important role in this development—a trend that we have seen since the early days of the New Age movement.

As for the institutionalized religions, if they still want a place in the next chapters of human history, they better become more like spirituality, and less like dogma.

So that is why I consider myself, as cliché as it may sound, spiritual but not religious.


Giovanni Dienstmann is the creator and the writer of liveanddare.com. He has be been actively seeking personal growth and a deeper meaning in life since he was a teenager.