a reply to: TheJourney
I can relate friend.
I also started in a strict fundamentalist religion, not by choice... it eventually turned me off to spiritual matters for a time after I decided it
didn't make sense to me.
Then my hunger grew through my seeking by way of science and philosophy. I once again began asking the grander questions. Why are we here? Who are we?
Is there purpose to this life? A curious tingling of something hiding behind the veil of our ordinary experience arose within me once more.
I turned to eastern thoughts... mixed with westerner's newer ideas to begin with. I too have had many experiences, that were shifts of perception for
me, it was great, and it did affirm for me that there was some form of spirituality in life that I had touched lightly. I eventually found my
I know of this 'limbo' that you feel, this detachment, this disillusionment. Concepts dry up, doubt moves in and suffocates belief, removing any
sort of satisfaction found in prior powerful spiritual experiences. This is normalcy returning, dissatisfaction returning, it is inevitable for the
human being. Inevitable, but not something we have to succumb to.
There are many paths to the great mountain, but tread wisely, as there are many hindrances hidden in no matter which way you choose.
Let me share with you what is known as the 5 spiritual faculties from buddhism:
1. Faith; confidence.
2. Energy; diligence in effort.
4. Meditative absorption; concentration.
5. Wisdom; insight wisdom.
Let us begin with your desire, our hunger for a genuine spirituality. This is where one can begin most earnestly. It will take you a long way, as
you have seen, but as any hunger can be momentarily satisfied by food, so can spiritual hunger be momentarily satisfied by dabbling in small meals of
concepts and ideas of what makes up our 'spirituality.'
You see, if we look above, the first spiritual faculty is faith. There comes a time in all paths where doubt arises, where dissatisfaction arises,
leading the mind to hunger for new ideas, new ways of feeding itself. It is ok to question things, it is necessary to gaining true insight on the
nature of reality, but be wary of doubt. In all of the spiritual paths, it takes faith in your practice, faith in yourself. If one has faith, one
can endure the hard times, when our questions are not yet answered, one can endure and keep at our practice to build momentum, to build a steady
practice from which we can gain true knowledge, true peace. Slowly, as one becomes mature within their practice there will be moments where one will
be affirmed, and confidence built. Use these moments to propel you forward... do not let up. No road is easy, and although we can come to moments of
a completely assured mind, of bliss and joy and happiness in our spiritual way, it is surely to be followed by moments of questioning, of
disconnection, of doubt. Investigate this, as it will allow you to see that all things are momentary, are transient, are passing.
But commit to one practice, as this will allow maturation within it. Adopt the concepts which are helpful in creating a life filled with more loving
kindness, more compassion, leading to peace, leading to tranquility, leading to clarity, leading to release.
Using the second faculty of energy, of effort and commitment, we can stay with our practice, we can dig deeper. By using mindfulness as well, we can
not only learn to understand concepts of the mind, and their letting go, their actual emptiness; we can also begin to more importantly turn our
focused mindful energy and gaze into our heart. The center of the heart is genuine, and through its gates lies peace and understanding. With mindful
practice, our gaze can turn concentrated, it can become like a sharp knife, cutting through our doubt through examination, and our discernment will
grow. The heart is where you will find your genuine spirituality.
By fully using the first 4 spiritual faculties the fifth naturally arises. Sustained faith through our focused energy and commitment, coupled with our
practice with mindfulness of ourselves, of others, of our connections, will help build the one pointed concentration needed to gain true insight into
the principles governing life.
If we take a look, what one truly desires, even above a genuine spirituality, is satisfaction and peace of heart and mind. A dwelling of assured
contentment by way of knowing through experience. In this manner, spirituality is the active force, the movement in ourselves which drives us to find
You're right in saying that it is not separate from you, it is closer than close, but it must be uncovered. Certain things must be abandoned, there
must be cultivation, and there must be knowledge gained before ultimate release.
Peace is not found in the mind, it is found at the center of the heart; but it is a long and arduous voyage into it. We have to contend with a
lifetime of pain, a lifetime of disillusionment and confusion.
It is good to know of detachment, but I tell you out of my own experience, detachment can become of a form of aversion. What I have seen that works
is an opening of the heart, an acceptance of all that is, an acceptance of self. It is a form of surrender; we fight everyday to move away from
surrendering. There is a war in the mind that is ongoing. We must learn how to step back, away from it, how to surrender ourselves to all that is
found within life. All of its pain, stresses, disappointments along with its joys and pleasures. We must learn to give up the war.
Using the discernment and wisdom that we gain through our practice, we can navigate the oceans of our heart, now open to all the experiences of life,
carefully and thoughtfully, so as to continue growing wiser, continue cultivating peace.
Whichever practice you choose, stick with it, be mindful of its virtues and its hindrances. All paths have them. Cultivate your understanding and
deepen your wisdom. Do not get attached to any one concept or idea, do not be fundamentalist, but also do not give into aversion of concepts, but
investigate each one and see if it brings you inner peace, cultivates happiness, softens your heart and makes it strong in loving kindness. Concepts
are used as stepping stools, it can be useful to have certain kinds of attachments on the path, until true insight is gained into the nature of
reality, then one can truly be 'detached' but not in the way you speak of.
One uses things, but does not cling to things.
Concepts come and go, as does all phenomena in this world.
Stick with it, and you will find genuine spirituality, because you yourself have cultivated it.