Tag Archives: Self

Spiritual Marriage, First Marriage

Typically, we look upon marriage as a social institution in which two people are committed to supporting one another long term.  Yet, in reality, our first marriage is internal.  Our first marriage, and most profoundly spiritual relationship, is a between our every-day, social self and our, perhaps more elusive, higher Self or highest Light.  Ideally, we would devote as much–if not more–time, energy and tender care to this internal marriage as we do to our existing external marriage and/or our most intimate, long-term friendships.

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Tending to an internal, first marriage requires us to listen to the voice of the heart, because the heart is where the Self resides. The Self views the world in terms of care, respect, integrity, the web of life and thoughtful dignity; whereas, the social self is concerned with issues of status, race, age, gender and possibly creed.  When the higher Self is grounded in the heart, we ask questions like, “How may I best honor my Light today? Or, how may I best honor the Light in someone else?”

Listening for and discerning the heart’s Truth takes patience and practice, as well as the sometimes needed assistance of our most trustworthy friends.

In Quaker tradition (The Religious Society of Friends), a member of meeting may call a Clearness Committee, from among the membership, to assist him/her with a quandry and the discernment of the true leadings of the heart.  The Committee meets, without judgment, to listen to the question or questions at hand.  Then, each member of the Committee brings forth further, pointed questions meant to lead the convening individual toward his/her own heart-centered Truth. The Clearness Committee neither advises, nor do members offer opinions, though sometimes members of the Committee may repeat the quandry-holder’s own words back to him/her.

Sometimes the only way for us to hear ourselves is through the repetition of our own will words coming from someone else’s mouth.

When conducted with respect, diplomacy and confidentiality, a Clearness Committee is capable of removing the debris of confusion from even the most confused of hearts.  Consider this means of approaching your own serious questions.  I offer this practice as one method for opening the door on your own clarity, highest Light and the sacred, first marriage, which is awaiting your attentive care.

Spirituality: The Search for the Self

At some level, each of us is looking for something of ourselves in someone else.  Socially, this is the way in which we build bridges.

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There are spaces created in conversations where we check-in with one another to determine how we might be alike or what we might have in common–whether it be an experiential commonality, gender/race/life-stage similarity or a shared interest.

The curious thing about this phenomenon is that what we think we desire on a micro-level is actually a stand-in for what we most desire on the macro-level, which is a genuine or authentic communion with the Spirit.

Spirituality & Holding Space III

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What happens, over the course of time, when a relationship’s solidity in the exploration of life’s questions begins to fall apart?

The “togetherness”–we once agreed to–gives way to one or the other of us choosing to strike out on a solo expedition to continue the process of life exploration. This exploratory process is not really being done alone, but in relationship with the Self.

Departing a relationship to contnue exploring on one’s own  does not mean that the person remaining at base-camp has necessarily ceased growing, changing or venturing out. Sometimes the base-camp holder has actually already worked through and found his “answers,” as well as having developed a sense of contentment within his life circumstances as they stand.

If we go back to the original example of the life-partner, who comes home to announce that she will be taking a six-month leave of absence from work to tour the country on a new motorcycle with an old friend, all anyone can do is ask that person whether or not it would be helpful to pack up a batch of sandwiches for the road.

In other words, we must let go, trusting in the fact that our road-warrior partner is answering some deeper, haunting call from within her own Spirit and knowing.

Spirituality & Holding Space II

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Holding space–in the context of a relationship–is something close friends do naturally for one another, when one person is working through a moral dilemma, trying to make a major decision, arranging life priorities or otherwise attempting to move toward internal resolution between every-day concerns and the desires of  your highest Light or Spirit.

There are so many components to an intimate relationship, whether that relationship is internal–between the every-day part of personality and true Spirit–or external, between two partners.

In almost every relationship there are issues of emotion, aesthetics, creativity, intellect, physicality, fiscal concern, as well as the honoring of pure Spirit.

On the most basic level, for example, there is the issue of touch. How do we want to be touched?  How often?  Where do we want to be touched–both in terms of a person’s body and in terms of appropriate social locations?  What types of touch do we desire?  How do we balance and honor our desires with the desires of another person?

In consideration of all of these things, it is nothing short of a miracle that any committed relationship lasts more than a short time.

And, I would argue, one of the reasons committed relationships span years is that two people have agreed to step onto the path of self-discovery–together.

People enter into intimate relationships and close friendships specifically to entertain these basic life questions, learn how to set boundaries, refine their desires and explore their limits and limitlessness, while discovering their personal “answers”–together.

Spirituality: Setting the Tone II

Found in teaching circles, the concept of setting the tone describes a phenomenon in which a group of people take on the primary emotions, attitudes, opinions or sometimes even an ethical stance displayed by a leader.  And, although this concept is usually used to discuss leadership-group dynamics, it also applies to us as individuals internally as we explore the workings of our singular personalities, whenever we are faced with dilemmas or decisions.

In situations where we are facing dilemmas or difficult decisions, we have the luxury of being able to step back and watch the various components of personality take positions on how best to proceed.  During this process, we may feel inwardly fractured or confused.  But, there is a unifying force which can guide us through the dilemma-solving process and toward resolution.

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In Vedanta, students are encouraged to develop a dialogue with the internal Observer.  The internal Observer is that component of a person’s personality which is universal and timeless.  The Observer is more concerned about “us” than it is concerned about “me”.  In most cases the Observer, when it is given its due position, will choose what the majority of spiritual traditions would consider an optimal choice in any given dilemma or decision, barring considerations regarding cultural differences.

Acess to the Observer is best cultivated through voluntary phases of silence, where we learn to watch the activities of the mind and its decision making processes.  The Observer is also available to us through breath awareness and wih a reduction in social distractions.  When we begin to experience a single-pointed focus in conjunction with a consistent experience of Stillness, then we will know we have found the Observer.  And, the internal Observer is the component of personality that should set the tone for our days and our lives, rather than any other external or, potentially, unreliable personality or force.

Spiritual Marriage

More often than not, when we think of marriage, we are describing a formal commitment between two people who enter into a promise to celebrate and support one another through life’s many passages.  This is one of the external, social forms that marriage may take. There is another form of marriage, more ancient, arguably more difficult to maintain and guard the sanctity of, and which is sometimes considered or recognized in but a few of the world’s dominant cultures.  This marriage is the internal, sacred and spiritual marriage we enter into at birth—between the body and the Self.

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With birth into the body and into the physical realm, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that we are our highest Light, pure Spirit, holy Consciousness.  And, with physical birth, there is a prearranged pairing—or marriage, created between the physical frame and the Light.  Our Light is that which drives the body.  Yet, how many of us forget, through the course of our social engagements, that we have a Supreme driver, to call upon daily, as we maneuver life’s rural expanses, twisting back alleyways or busy city streets?

Calling upon the Self.  Interestingly and paradoxically, the most efficient path, perhaps, to a balanced and healthy internal, spiritual marriage is effected by respectfully tending to the physical frame.  Spirit is a delicate, resilient creature, benefiting from the upkeep of a solidly working and cherished home.  And, it is when we are actively addressing the issues of the body through regular self-care, that we are able to continue to forge, recommit and strengthen the internal marriage between body and Spirit.  Thus, anytime we are engaged in any respectful, life-affirming activity, we are able to request, of the Self, clear and accurate guidance about how best to proceed with integrity and in relationship with the wide variety and aspects of Grace we are privileged to encounter and live among.

Spiritual Salvation & Idolatry

It was in reading an especially esoteric book about Sufism that I encountered the most convincing definition of idolatry I have ever considered.  According to this text, the idol worship we must be most concerned about is the pandering we do to our own egos.  In this paradigm, the ego is the graven image and false, isolating figure we all carry inside.

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Externally, this idolatry shows itself to be present when we exhibit vanity and an excessive preoccupation  with appearances and status.  Internally, this idolatry makes itself known through an attitude of smug self-importance, poisoning our potentially sacred relationships within the social and environmental worlds we occupy.

The ego, a raucous and demanding poser of sometimes epic proportions, causes us to forget that we are part of a whole and that we have a place in the grand scheme of things, in community, amid nature and through time.  Thus, with this definition of idolatry, spiritual “salvation” is available to us whenever we forget our pettiness and willingly reconnect to the Essential Self–that Divine spark, yearning to be tended, still burning and buried in everyone and everything that was, is and ever will be.