Friday, September 13, 2013
What Is Blocking Your Spiritual Growth?
The physical world provides us unlimited opportunities to grow spiritually. That's why we come here. But negative emotions and erroneous beliefs can block our spiritual growth.
Discovering our blockages is an essential part of spiritual growth.
Let me mention a few of the negative emotions that can get in the way of spiritual growth. Perhaps you have experienced some of them. I certainly have. They include guilt, self-pity, greed, anger, pride, resentment, victimization, bitterness, doubt, disappointment, cynicism, skepticism, shame, despair, depression, indifference, hatred, jealousy, and envy — but there are many others.
Along with negative emotions, we cling to a host of erroneous beliefs about ourselves, the world we live in, and God. For example, we believe we are physical bodies; we have forgotten that we are eternal spiritual beings. We believe this physical world is real; we have forgotten that it is just an illusion we created for the purpose of "having physical experiences." And religious fanatics have filled our heads with preposterous ideas about God. They have convinced us that God is wrathful and plays favorites, demands to be worshipped, condemns us to everlasting torment in hell, and looks like Michelangelo's depiction on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. They have admonished us to fear God.
Of all the negative emotions, fear probably qualifies as the biggest impediment to spiritual growth. It literally paralyzes us. We are constantly confronted by fear-based stress, worry, and anxiety in life. We torture ourselves endlessly with fearful questions like: What if others discover the “real me” and don’t like what they see? What if I fail to achieve some very important goal? What if the plane I’m about to fly on crashes? What if I get sick, suffer terribly, and then die? What if I don't get something I desperately want, or what if something I already have is taken from me? Fears like these can haunt us at every turn.
The ego thrives on our negative emotions and erroneous beliefs.
The ego does everything it can to keep us in a permanent state of fear. It thrives on fear. It uses fear and other negative emotions to block us from learning the truth about who we really are. It does this to ensure its own survival and continued dominance.
I define the ego as "the me I believe I am." To be sure, this ego has played a vital role in human evolution. When we lived in caves and forests and were confronted by saber-tooth tigers and other dangers, the fear-based ego helped us find ways to survive. But long before this, the ego gave us a sense of individuality. We created physical bodies in which to live while here on Earth, thus giving ourselves a sense of separation and individuality. Without an ego, we would not have been able to perceive ourselves as separate individuals. This sense of individual identity continues to be a fundamental aspect of our human experience. It allows us to view all of creation from an infinite number of viewpoints, as we wanted to do.
But at some point, the ego gained absolute control of us and has been in control ever since. Today, we still believe we are separate from each other. We see the physical space between us as proof of this separation. But as A Course in Miracles tells us, our false belief in separation from God and from each other is the source of all human ills. It has led to our human habit of judging and criticizing others and bombing them out of existence when necessary.
Oh, yes, the separation seems completely real. It had to be convincing for it to work as we intended. Today, we still believe we are separate physical bodies living in a physical universe. But the truth is: We created the physical universe as a playground in which to accelerate our spiritual growth. And we created our "individuated" physical bodies in order to get around in the physical universe. Then we forgot we created the physical universe and our physical bodies. We forgot that everything we created is just an illusion and that, in fact, we never really left Heaven. All along, we have been living in spiritual amnesia. We have been hallucinating this entire physical experience.
We continue to believe that our negative emotions will ensure our physical survival and will help us to get everything we want or need in life. Of course, to satisfy our wants and needs, we think we must take what others have, and we easily find ways to justify such behavior. This has turned our lives into nonstop violence, pain, and suffering, effectively blocking our spiritual growth.
We can continue to pursue the same kind of human experience we always have. That’s what most people choose to do, consciously or unconsciously. They think they have “more important" things to do than work on spiritual growth.
We can begin to deal with the blockages we face.
By contrast, we can choose to awaken spiritually. We have been spiritually asleep for eons, and as we awaken from this sleep, we can begin to experience conscious spiritual growth. The awakening can occur suddenly and dramatically in an instant of time. Or it can be a gradual process. Either way, we can begin to remove the blockages to our spiritual growth at once. When we do this, we begin to experience a life of joy, serenity, and gentle bliss. We begin to accelerate our spiritual growth.
As we continue to grow spiritually, we get rid of more and more of the blockages we’ve been carrying around for such a long time like a heavy sack of rocks on our backs. We undergo a profound personality change. Spiritual growth soon becomes our focus and purpose in life. Life gets better in every way.
I believe all of this because it has been my experience. My first spiritual awakening in 1990 led me to a decade of profound personality change. My second spiritual awakening in 2000 launched me onto a path of accelerated spiritual growth. My experience suggests to me that a certain amount of personal change may be necessary before any real spiritual growth can occur. For me, personal and spiritual growth appear to be a lifelong process, but we can accelerate this process.
How, specifically, can we do that? Well, there’s always a possibility of divine intervention which can suddenly turn our lives around. That’s what happened to me in 1990. But more often, it’s a slow, evolutionary process requiring commitment. For me, spiritual studies such as A Course in Miracles and spiritual practices such as meditation have been helpful in removing blockages and accelerating my spiritual growth. So have spiritual groups, spiritual conferences, and like-minded friends. Past-life regressions have helped me uncover and deal with traumas from other lives which I brought into this lifetime and which have stymied my spiritual growth. But underlying all of this has been a willingness to replace my negative emotions with unconditional love and universal acceptance and my erroneous beliefs with spiritual knowledge and wisdom. Admittedly, I still have a lot of work to do in this lifetime to overcome a multitude of blockages that continue to confront me, but at least I'm not stagnating here in physicality.
Overcoming the blockages to spiritual growth probably qualifies as the most important task before us in this lifetime. That's what I believe. What about you? What do you believe? What is blocking your spiritual growth?