….what does “spiritual” mean, anyways?
What is the meaning and purpose of life? To be honest, I have been a little bothered by that concept, lately. When I first started on what I understand as a “spiritual pathway”, I thought that the more spiritual that I became, the more that my physical life was going to be easier. I had this idea that I would feel calmer, centered, expanded, peaceful, blissful and loved. That was the general concept that meant that I was spiritual. Also, I had every expectation that that would translate into having a lot of money and a comfortable life, doing whatever it was that I loved for a living.
My expectation was also that once I was “spiritual”, I would be in perfect health….and if I was totally honest, I also expected a few super powers….mostly psychic ones. (Ahem.)
Looking at the metaphysical community, the vampire community, the pagan community….I can see that there is more of an emphasis on “powers” and “abilities” than there is on being “spiritual”. There is more talk on technical techniques in magick, psychic talents and various other metaphysical phenomena….even what passes as communion with angels/gods/demons is really just making thoughtforms. Most of our communion with non-physical beings is really just interacting with astral servitors in the shape and form of Athena, Beelzebub, Michael and Lucifer.
Is it even important to be Spiritual? To be honest, I’m not really sure where I exactly got the idea. Was it from eastern yogic philosophy or new thought? And why should I be Spiritual? What does it even mean?
When I was younger, I think that I had the idea that I was supposed to do what “God” wanted….that was what being spiritual meant. In exchange for following all of the rules and regulations, I would be rewarded with getting blessed in the physical world. When my prayers weren’t answered with physical manifestation, I was still assured that there would be my riches in heaven. A trust fund that I could dip into, once I was dead.
As my religious symbology and personal mythology changed, I think I adapted some of the earlier concepts. Somewhere, I think my brain translated that into physical blessings being the demonstration for being spiritual. The only way that I could really gauge that I was making spiritual progress was if my magick created real-world changes.
As I studied further, I came to realize that obstacles to manifestation (of experience) were in the form of thoughts and emotions/feelings. The same things that manifested as personality limitations were what affected how smoothly magick worked. Also, communion with Spirit relied on how easily we could leave behind the thoughts and feelings of the everyday world.
When I began to commune with The Great Mother, being spiritual meant being entirely aware and focused on The Spirit, Herself. Being spiritual means the pure experience of the essence of Spirit….unconditional Love, unbridled Joy, unending Peace. It is an experience that has nothing to do with the physical, mental or emotional world.
The reason we have no lasting happiness in the world is because the world and everything in it does not represent completeness. Limitation is necessary for manifestation. That is the nature of the physical world.
Any physical form, thought or feeling is not the entirety of the Universe. Happiness is only happiness. It has no form other than itself. We can add Joy to everyday life. We can bring Joy to the table. We can remember to be aware of Joy, but we cannot find it hiding in the everyday world…..Joy has no form. Joy is Joy. That’s it. We add it to the world. Our mistake is in assuming that we have to unveil it already hidden in forms or experiences.
The wonderful thing about magick and manifestation is that they can be great tools for reminding us of Spirit. Spells let us play with the world of form, to make it easier to remember the Divine. Magick is not spiritual, in and of itself….but, it helps us take pressure off of our thought/feelings/energy, so that we can refocus on Spirit.
To be Spiritual is to be aware of that Wholeness before/beyond form or physical-world experience. It is the option of being aware of that state. I am not spiritual because I am trying to please any deity outside of myself. I am spiritual because it feels like a natural place to be.
What I like about talking to non-believers and skeptics is that they give me a reference point. They make me evaluate my own beliefs…and to be honest, I tend to put more energy into those beliefs that have more of an immediate relevance in my personal life. If a metaphysical belief has some practical or present-time benefits for me, then it is more valid than some theoretical/hypothetical belief about some experience that I might or might not have in a distant future.
Can I really prove that there is an afterlife? How about the immortality of spirit? When someone passes from this mortal coil, how can I be sure that they exist beyond this world? Is there any way to prove that we can have contact with those who no longer have physical bodies?
(And because I can’t prove it, does that absolutely mean that it’s not true?)
My approach to magick is such that it’s a cross between “let’s try it, just in case it works” and “even if it doesn’t work physically, there might be benefits on the psychological level.” If I see some benefit…even on an emotional level, then that’s good enough for me. This includes all current and working beliefs about the world of the dead.
When someone crosses from this physical realm, when their physical body ceases to function, one of the main things that people mourn is that idea that they will no longer enjoy future (physical) interaction with this being. People grieve for all the future interactions that have suddenly become inaccessible and impossible.
We treat people that have passed on in a very different way that we treat the living. On our side, we have a very different attitude towards them. To the fellow living–we allow ourselves to experience a wider range of emotion with them. We allow ourselves to hope for particular reactions. We allow ourselves to want to try to evoke very specific reactions and responses from the living. We allow ourselves to plot and plan our future interactions with the other living people in our lives. We are sometimes disappointed that we don’t get what we want, but we often keep trying.
The idea that other humans do not always do what we want has quietly become the defining characteristic of physical-world interaction. To some of us, at least part of the time, it is almost the nature of the physical world that we are not supposed to get exactly what we want.
We tend to try to second guess the reactions of others. We need to make sense of patterns and trends in others’ behaviors. From there, we do our best to influence them as best as we can. It’s human nature. Right or wrong, we have our reasons….even if we won’t admit them. If we don’t outright try to get a very particular response, sometimes we are satisfied just trying to make others happy…or at least keep some people neutral towards us.
When it comes to the spirit world, we often either do not believe that we can make contact with the departed….or, when they do respond favorably, we try to pass it off as imagination, especially if they are responding to us the way exactly the way that we ask them to or expect them to. Favorable interactions gets dismissed as wishful thinking. To our thinking, we are not supposed to get what we want exactly how we want it.
One possibility is that resistance to the will of others could be more of a physical world phenomena, that comes with working through human personalities. It might be that those in the spiritual realms go ahead and answer our requests because they see no reason not to. Living outside of time and space, they are not hindered by the demands of human life….and our requests might not be that big of a deal to them, so they simply answer them. In the cases where the spirits cooperate, it could be such a foreign concept to us that we completely throw it out of our realm of possibility.
Unless we are devoted to the practice of necromancy, it seems that we become frustrated much more easily when we do not get the interaction that we want with the deceased. We give up much more quickly on the idea of future conversations and communions, if we don’t have a good initial communion with the departed. We do not always evaluate what needs to be banished or practiced in our skills set before trying again.
It is helpful if we go back to the most complex of magickal tools–the self. The magician’s mind and heart. Do you expect to be successful interacting with the spirit realm? What are your real expectations and beliefs? (Not just hopeful wishes.) How intense will the sensory aspects be? Do you expect to see spirits in your internal eye (imagination) or do you expect to see the spirits manifest in front of you? Is it supposed to be a natural and easy form of communication….or a surprising and dramatic event? Which other sensory experiences do you expect when interacting with spirits?Just as with all other magickal endeavors, evaluate your beliefs and adjust accordingly before engaging in any spiritual techniques.