Seven Steps to Spiritual Numbness

At its highest level, spirituality is consciously communing with Spirit—that magnificent, incomprehensible creative force that we call God. It is about transcending the ego-induced illusion of separation and experiencing ourselves as integral parts of the Whole, free from fear.

It sounds so wonderful, and we all wish we could attain it, but few do. The allure of the physical world is so highly seductive and the egos we develop to negotiate it are so powerful that most of us keep the experience of the Divine forever at arms length.

Countless traps and pitfalls impede our spiritual development but if we analyze them, we find that they generally fall into one of seven categories:

1. Blindly adhere to religious dogma. Pick a religion (usually the one you were born into) and unquestioningly believe everything it tells you. Don’t learn about or explore other religions, yet remain certain that your religion is the only way to God and that other religions are wrong and a threat. Secure in this knowledge, your ego can then remain in control, you can judge others and avoid the possibility of authentic, spontaneous spiritual experience. Countless wars have been fought and lives lost or ruined by such small-minded rigidity.

2. Be a skeptic. At the other end of the religious/spiritual spectrum are the skeptics. Maybe they had religion forced down their throats as children, maybe they tried it to no avail as adults, maybe they were proselytized by people they didn’t respect. They often lump religion with spirituality, even though they are two very different things. Skeptics view the whole realm as bunk, thus shutting themselves off from spiritual possibility.

3. Keep your nose to the grindstone. By working long hours, watching lots of television and staying constantly occupied, people forfeit any opportunity to “stop and smell the roses.” Thus distracted, possibilities for experiencing the magnificence of life on this planet are minimized, along with the awe and appreciation that comes with it.

4. Become addicted. Using drugs or alcohol on a regular basis blunts the feedback of pain that life provides when we are on the wrong track. Being addicted to these substances numbs every aspect of people’s lives, including the spiritual, enabling them to continue further down whatever harmful path they have chosen.

5. Be incurious. When one is curious, all of existence becomes a fascinating mystery. Such exploration can arouse a sense of awe and wonder and, along with it, a feeling of humility and divine connectedness. By being incurious, people skip quickly across the top of the deep pond of existence, never knowing its depths and losing an important opportunity for communion with Spirit.

6. Don’t meditate, pray or contemplate. Making quiet, alone time for oneself eliminates distractions, empties our minds and creates space for connecting with Spirit. Many people are so afraid of being only with themselves that they shut themselves off from the guidance, clarity and wisdom that can come from communion with the Divine through solitary meditation, prayer and contemplation.

7. Take everything very seriously. Somewhere along the way, we got the notion that religion and spirituality are a very serious business and that there is no place for humor and laughter in the presence of God. Yet people who have attained a high degree of spiritual evolution typically have wonderful senses of humor and smile and laugh a lot. They must know some things the rest of us don’t; perhaps we can learn from them.

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