September 11, 2012

Cutting The Sh*t: Shifting Paradigms.

Photo: Grosso

Dogma Free Spirituality (Part Two)

Before we get started, here are the links to my previous articles in the “Dogma Free Spirituality” series. Each builds on one another and I’d recommend starting with those before reading this, or, if you’re punk like me you can just say “f*ck it” and start wherever the hell you want, because no one is going to tell you what to do!


Part One—Come As You Are

The Times They Are a-Changin’

~ Bob Dylan

That they are, and then they change some more, and more, and on and on it goes, this thing of ours. While change really is the only constant in this “reality,” it’s also one of the most feared and fought against things in our daily lives. That’s why I feel that shifting paradigms is such an important topic to explore.

Now, not to get all new-agey, but I don’t think I’m the only one who has noticed a significant increase in shifting universal energies in the new millennium, especially over the past few years. What I’ve also noticed with these shifts is a lot of people, especially younger generations, looking for something more, yet not knowing where exactly to look or how to find it.

Many resort to looking for it in material items such as drugs, shopping, food, sex and so forth. Others seek it in transforming their physical appearances via tanning, tattoos, piercings, plastic surgery, expensive clothes… but these are all temporary and fleeting things that will only fill the gap for so long. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of the aforementioned things, I’m personally covered in tattoos, but it’s important to remember that things such as those are nothing more than material pleasures which typically don’t transform us on a deeper, inner level.

Photo: country_boy_shane

So why then, isn’t spirituality typically at the top of those lists, since in essence, it’s supposed to address our inner most selves, right?

I personally believe much of it has to do with the stigma attached. I know when I was initially looking for something deeper in life that talk of fire and brimstone, giving up material possessions, living in caves, stretching in weird positions and so forth, were not very appealing to me. With the exception of the fire and brimstone, I’m at a place today where most of those things actually are appealing, but when I was first approaching spirituality, haha, yeah right.

A big part of “Dogma Free Spirituality” is the intention to make spirituality more accessible for all seekers.

It’s to inspire us all to help create a safe, nurturing, non-judgmental space for all practitioners, regardless of how established—or not—they are. Or, whatever lineage—or lack thereof—they adhere too.

Spirituality often conjures negative thoughts and images for people and most often, rightly so. Many have had bad experiences with religion and spirituality forced upon them while growing up. Others were only exposed to certain tenants of it that didn’t resonate with them and thus, they wrote it off altogether. Still, others see it as some lame, lovey-dovey type of thing that they can’t relate to at all.

Spirituality can certainly be lovey-dovey a lot of the time. Hell, I’ve had plenty of those experiences myself, but for someone not familiar with the territory, possibly coming to it from a darker place due to any number of life’s experiences, they may not be ready to accept all the love and hugging, the prayers and chanting and Buddha this and Christ Jesus that. What they, and many others, may need is just to know that it’s all okay, that it’s all grist for the mill, that it’s all part of spirituality. Remember, no mud, no lotus.

The following is an excerpt from Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s classic book Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism (Shambhala Publications).

(I’m sharing this as it was of paramount benefit for me to read early on in my spiritual practice and something I revisit often to keep myself and my practice in check. I also think it’s a wonderful example of re-evaluating our own spiritual paradigms.)

It is important to see that the main point of any spiritual practice is to step out of the bureaucracy of ego. This means stepping out of ego’s constant desire for a higher, more spiritual, more transcendental version of knowledge, religion, virtue, judgment, comfort or whatever it is that the particular ego is seeking. One must step out of spiritual materialism. If we do not step out of spiritual materialism, if we in fact practice it, then we may eventually find ourselves possessed of a huge collection of spiritual paths.

We may feel these spiritual collections to be very precious. We have studied so much. We may have studied Western philosophy or Oriental philosophy, practiced yoga or perhaps have studied under dozens of great masters. We have achieved and we have learned. We believe that we have accumulated a hoard of knowledge. And yet, having gone through all this, there is still something to give up. It is extremely mysterious!

How could this happen? Impossible! But unfortunately it is so. Our vast collections of knowledge and experience are just part of ego’s display, part of the grandiose quality of ego. We display them to the world and, in doing so, reassure ourselves that we exist, safe and secure, as “spiritual” people.

So is everyone still with me here? Many of you are already aware of everything I’ve written about here and that’s wonderful, so maybe this served as a nice little refresher. Maybe some of you haven’t looked at things quite like this before and have something new to ponder. And of course, some of you will read this and think it’s a complete crock of shit, and that’s totally cool too. I never have, and never, ever will say that what I write is the way things should be, or tell someone what they should or shouldn’t do, because that’s the complete antithesis of “Dogma Free Spirituality.”

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.

~ Buddha

For my next article in this series, I will talk about the Question Everything aspect of Dogma Free Spirituality, which expands on the idea of shifting paradigms but goes deeper into the inquiry aspect. In closing however, here’s a video from Bear Vs Shark for no other reason than to light a fire under your ass as you go about your day. Have fun!

Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

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