Everywhere we look we're being programmed to not think freely, and this programming is unexpectedly embedded in the increasingly predominant spiritual narrative that stigmatizes the ego, mind and thought, inspiring self-censorship, shaming and dulling of our intellect, as well as eroding our critical thinking skills. Diana Alstead and Joel Kramer point out in The Passionate Mind Revisted:
"These meta-programs, actually thought programs, which are supposed to help free people from thought and its' mechanical aspects, are mechanical forms of thought that instead condition the mind with negative thoughts about thought."
As I've come to see it...
Learning to think differently and more freely plays a crucial role in bringing out the best of humanity, not simply thinking less, and certainly not stopping thinking altogether. The call we need to answer is for a new spiritual narrative that encourages thinking in new non-binary ways, drawing from a wider, expanded, world-centric perspective that opens the aperture to draw in information from a greater universal context, evolving towards less polarized, both/and thinking, and out of outdated either/or thought paradigms and modes of perception!
For this we cannot destroy, dampen, or dissolve our egos, but to awaken them to become conscious rather than unconscious, egos that are conscious of being a part of the greater whole of what we are, that are conscious of more. We need fully intact, expanded egos that can challenge and evolve (not simply replace with silence!) their own narrow-minded perspectives and limiting automatic thinking habits.
We desperately need guidance in how to think better, not what to think, or not to think, both of which spirituality with a negative attitude towards the thinking mind programs into us. Spiritual indoctrination to see the ego/mind as the villainous sole source of our and the world's problems is a toxic shame.
I think that the most wisest and most evolving spiritual leaders are not those teaching us to stifle our critical thinking abilities, but to expand and sharpen our minds, encouraging us to use thought in new creative and healing ways, and making the heart and head into a team, cultivating a balance between compassion and discernment while those who continue to undermine our freedom of thought are doing us and our society a tragic disservice, making us increasingly susceptible to things like authoritarian control, apathy and righteous indifference. Wise leaders realize that stifling the thoughts of those with the most wide angle perception leaves society's future in the hands of those with the most narrow lens!
We have university classrooms where the teachers views and agendas cannot be questioned without punishment and shame, and too much of our mainstream spiritual learning environments has followed suit. Now in addition to peoples' political alarm systems being triggered, we have spiritual correctness alarms triggered by any strong opinions (except for the opinion that strong opinions are unspiritual!) in others, and most frighteningly within ourselves.
Ego-shunning spirituality that shames self-interest and personal expression, could be seen as even worse than the authoritarian thought police of universities and cancel culture, since in addition to canceling specific thoughts and opinions, it cancels/shames all thought, so that virtue signaling spiritual correctness means remaining silent and impartial, with the most virtuous being the most silent.
We do not need to free ourselves from thought, but we need to free thought from both the shackles of limiting habitual thought patterns, and the confines of ego-shaming, mind-dulling spiritual conditioning.
Here's to forging new spiritual narratives that value, inspire and celebrate expanding and freely evolving thinking, not downgrading, stifling or extinguishing it! Thought is after all, the most emergent way that the universe gets to interact with itself.
Non-duality, as the unity of opposites, doesn't point to there being no duality but that source and manifestation are ONE and the same - meaning oneness and multiplicity are non-dual - reality is UNIDUAL! they are interwoven inextricably - the one has arisen as the many and they only arise together, yup just like yin and yang.
So when I experienced and thought of non-duality as no separation between anything and that separateness does not exist, I was missing out on delighting in the mesmerizing, whole-making paradox that the one IS the many, expressing as it, so that form is AS real as formlessness because it IS it - but it is not reduced to it, it is formlessness literally enformed!
Because I did it too, and suffered the eventual consequences (along with benefiting in other ways) it's painful to see people struggling to destroy the robustness of their beautiful individualities yours is a sacred, individual personal expression of the universe - and when you know yourself as this, you want to explore your personal expression and shine the light of your individuality more, and see what Being can (and perhaps wanted to!) become as you.
"All is one and separate at the same time.
How you act when you are filled with this truth in your own original way--
that will be something worth seeing!"
Eternal bliss or bust - Are Liberation Paths another form of Seeking Perpetual Pleasure?
This is a short post on a topic that deserves a much deeper dive but it's important to simply be clear that most Liberation paradigms are not helping you to transcend the desire for permanent satisfaction, they do not say to renounce looking for/desiring permanent happiness, satisfaction, perfection, pleasure and even endless bliss, they are just saying you're looking for it in the wrong place! That you must shift the search inwards rather than outwards, undying serenity and joy can't be found externally, but inside oneself, beyond conditions (isn't that putting a condition on happiness that it must be unconditional?) so you're guided not to give up perfectionism but to stop seeking perfection in the world around you and lose yourself instead to seeking it within. Ironically, In other words, perfectionism isn't transcended, material perfectionism is replaced with spiritual perfectionism. That was quite a jolting reality slap in the face for me. 🤯
Here are just a few quotes from two of today's most popular advaita gurus that reflect how the pursuit of perfectionist ideals of uninterrupted pleasure and happiness aren't being transcended or healed, but perpetuated in a new form.
"Happiness is our real nature and we shall never rest until we find it. If you seek real happiness, unassailable and unchangeable, you must leave the world with its pains and pleasures behind you.” - Nisargadatta
"The explorers seek happiness in finding curiosities, discovering new lands and undergoing risks in adventures. They are thrilling. But where is pleasure found? Only within. Pleasure is not to be sought in the external world." - Ramana Maharshi