02 Jan Where do I begin? At the beginning….
I struggled with how I wanted to launch Boodeful.com. What did I want to blog about? How could I encapsulate and describe the vast amount of growth that Iʼve experienced in the past year? Where should I begin?
Youʼve heard about A-Ha moments, Oprah has turned them into a catchphrase, but have you had any lately? I have, and so many that Iʼve begun to call it an A-Ha year!
In an upcoming 4 part series of blog posts, I will share with you how I became spiritually awakened in more detail, but for now, this is the abridged version. Two things occurred rather serendipitously. I was driving to work one sunny August morning, I had just broken up with a guy, I was heading to work, (I run my own printing business, which was increasingly stressful and unsatisfying), and I looked up at the clear blue sky and said, out loud, “there has got to be more to life than this, please, universe, show me a sign, I’ll do anything to discover the secret to happiness in life”.
I left it there and patiently waited for a sign….At the same time, because of the breakup, I was listening to TED Talks about forgiveness, trying to get some help with letting go. It was not a TED Talk but another video which caught my eye, that changed the course of my life. I was incredibly fortunate to have literally stumbled upon some teachings from a modern master of advanced personal development online and it was in that discovery about learning how to forgive, but ultimately how to self-actualize, that I experienced a spiritual awakening.
Definitions depend on who’s providing them
Spirituality, the word itself, is such a misnomer, it carries a lot of baggage. It gets a bad rap because people equate spirituality with religion. You may be thinking I “found God”, you may think that Iʼve become a born again Christian or a Buddhist, or any number of ideas related to religion. Most rationally minded people commit this pre-rational/post-rational fallacy and lump spirituality in with religion, when the two are actually diametrically opposed. I used to think that, too, I studied comparative religion in college and was a practicing Wiccan for over 24 years, I thought I was a very “spiritual” person. What I have come to learn, however, is that there is a big difference. Religion is based on dogma, morals & rules and is influenced by cultural norms and creates belief systems.
Whereas spirituality actually releases you from dogma, it frees your mind, and then your True Self, your consciousness, can become apparent to you. It dissolves your belief system, removes the years of sticky conditioning that has lodged itself in your mind. Spirituality is regularly linked to thriving – what it means to thrive and how we come to thrive, and I love that description. I have never felt more like I am thriving since that moment, sitting in front of my computer, reading words I had never read before, having my mind blown wide open. More details of that, in the weeks to come.
What I discovered in researching many religions is that religion is a culturally created system of designated beliefs and behaviors that come to you from an external source. Spirituality is about removing those beliefs, looking inside your “self” (and beyond) so that reality can actually come into view. It is about the stripping away of all the dogma, all the limitations that your culture, your upbringing, your religion, your parents, your education have constructed to create a kind of ego smog in your mind (a reference from David Bohm, the Physicist), an illusion of reality that fits into your world view, whatever that paradigm happens to be. Although at the heart of every religion there lies a tiny bit of the Truth, when human beings get a hold of it, their sense of “self”, what modern psychologists call the ego, warps it and alters the original meaning of the teachings. They layer morality, rules and dogma onto it until there is nothing left of the original concept, it is almost imperceptible.
Theists vs. atheists vs. nonduality
I am not a debunker, I am not interested in getting into a debate about religion, but I do want to clarify terms so that going forward, we are all on the same page. The best definition I have found for Spirituality is this one: “(It) is the degree of accurate perception that you have, or donʼt have, of reality.” Thanks to Leo Gura (my favourite teacher) for his apt definition.
I think some of you might ask, what does Spirituality have to do with reality? Doesnʼt it mean some “new age, airy-fairy” concept about the soul or the spirit that doesnʼt actually exist in reality?
Thatʼs kind of what I thought, too, but what I have learned again and again and again, is that Spirituality is very counter-intuitive. It is not anything that you currently think it is. If like me, you never really investigated what it was, how would you know? If you’ve only ever read about it but never experienced it, how would you know?
It’s really the secret hidden in plain sight. You see, I was a rational, scientifically-minded person. An artist, but very grounded in what I thought was “reality”, I knew how things worked in the world, I had 51 years of life experience after all. Right.
Then the awakening occurred and everything that I believed to be true of reality came crashing down like a thunderbolt on my head.
Life has never been the same since.