Philosophical Splitting - A New Age Dilemma
Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted and carried out, lead to harm and to suffering — then you should abandon them.' ~Siddhartha Gautama Buddha1
For many years now, I’ve noticed some confusing trends within modern spirituality that encourage many of us within the new-age community to pursue contradictory philosophies at the same time. What do I mean by this? A person’s lifestyle may run counter to a philosophy that he intends to follow. Alternatively, a person may attempt to master two opposing sets of idealistic goals.
As a personal example, in my early thirties, I felt very confused about how to put into practice A Course in Miracles. For those who have not heard of A Course in Miracles, it is primarily an inspirational course (in book format) comprised of channeled material that aims to help its readers come to learn lessons in unconditional love and forgiveness. It theorizes that forgiveness lies with understanding that material life is an illusion. Thus, as part of the forgiveness process, we are encouraged to overcome our need to be special--which feeds our belief in duality and makes our illusions appear more real than they are.
While these concepts resonated with me deeply, attempting to apply these principles to my “normal” life made me feel something was “off’,” yet I could not quite grasp where this feeling was coming from.
I do not believe I felt this way because the principles in the course were necessarily in error. I believe this feeling arose from the fact that I was practicing the principles while still trying to conform to my conventional lifestyle. As a result, I “split” myself by attempting to follow two sets of philosophies at the same time: societies and those of the course.
As an example: family, friends, and society imparted to me that it was important to be special and to excel. A Course in Miracles, however, asks us to let go of specialness and duality. Not seeing that both goals were contradictory, I tried to blend them. I told myself I needed to pursue specialness, while trying to trying to control my thoughts and feelings in such a way that I could convince myself this was not my true agenda. I thought this was what the student’s goal was supposed to be: to contort, suppress, and change our thoughts so that we can still pursue all the things we had before, but with a different mind-set. As a result, I ended up twisting my thoughts in such a way that I succeeded in convincing myself that I was not actively pursuing duality, specialness, separation, or attachment, when the opposite was true. It was a mental game that thrived on self-delusion and denial.
Using the specific example of duality, I believed that I could pursue duality if I could mentally convince myself—at the same time--that duality did not exist. I had not yet grasped that I could choose to adopt a different lifestyle that would accommodate more of what I was attempting to achieve. I had not thought of ways in which I could begin a process toward letting go of various conditioned forms of external dependency (i.e. external sources of power, food, banks, credit cards) as well as a preoccupation with money, success, recognition, material things, ownership, etc. After all, without consciously knowing such a choice is available (many of us may not conceive that we even have a choice), who immediately thinks about changing their lifestyle or any of these other things? We all feel fated to live by certain rules, ways of living, norms and conditioning. We expect ourselves to learn to cope and to change our attitude toward what we perceive to be necessary for our survival, while suppressing or denying any accompanying sense of limitation, unhappiness or dis-ease.
When I began to understand what I was really doing, it started to make more sense to me. So did the solution: we do not have to conform to the world in ways that put us at odds with the spiritual values we would like to emulate; nor do we have to deny to ourselves we are choosing to serve the world (and what is false or illusion) over spirit (and truth), if this is what we are doing. Instead, we can learn to see what we are doing for what it is, and change our lifestyle in a way that allows it to support the spiritual values we seek to align with. It will always be our own choice, but we can choose not to live mentally “split” apart.
I tell others that my new approach is called, “let us call a spade a spade.” In other words, let me see my true intentions for what they really are, rather than trying to masquerade them as something else. While this new approach sounds harsh, it actually allows more self-forgiveness and self-change. How so? I can be more authentic with myself while also seeing my human condition with unconditional love, detachment and awareness. I less resort to excuses and rationalizations for doing something that goes against my higher principles simply because it is something “everyone else is doing” as part of fitting in. Because I also understand that spiritual awakening is not always an overnight process, I know that when I am ready to follow spiritual precepts that emulate Unity, Love, and Oneness, I will do so, while also allowing myself to let go of contradictory survival based practices as I am able. This way, I’m not blocked by denial from learning the real lessons in A Course in Miracles.
|Acccepted Spiritual Truth||Prescribed Lifestyle|
|We are innately enough. We have nothing to prove.||Outer striving to be, do and have enough.
|Inner sense of abundance and worth. Abundance is present. Holiness exists within all living things.||Striving for outer abundance and worth. Abundance is past or future. It needs to be created through using Earth’s resources to create inanimate things.
|Non-duality and non-judgment.||Duality and labels.
|Oneness, unity, benefit of the whole.||Benefit of the self, competition, separation.
|Each person is a spiritual being. Our worth is eternal and defined by Spirit. We are all equal in Spirit.||Each person is a material being. Our worth is determined by other men, our successes or failures, our buying and selling, our popularity and other external factors.
|Peace, stillness, surrender, centeredness, and calm.||Chaos, scatteredness, over-activity, anxiety, need for control.
|Vitality, joy, one’s cup is eternally full.||Depression, burnout, overwhelm, exhaustion, one’s cup is never quite full.
|Ascension, rising above form.||Materialism, clinging to form.
|Oneness with nature and appreciation for the miracle within life. Seeing how blessed we are with all Nature provides.||The destruction of Nature. Nature is to be used as a means to an end rather than respected. Overabundance turns into pollution and waste within our environment as we find we need to produce more and more inanimate things to fulfill us.
|No real time. Living in present moment. Free of rush.||Outcome focus. Living in future and past. Not enough time. Rush.
|Humility and equality.||Pride and the need to be better than others. Desire for power, control, fame, and/or status.
|Living from heart. All feelings are okay. Feeling our feelings has a healing effect.||Living from mind. We feel the need to control or suppress thoughts and feelings that are perceived as negative. Feelings are feared rather than respected.
|Actualized love: love in action and love that is responsible. Prayer is a walk of life.||Conceptualized love: love in thought only and which results in care-less-ness. Superficial thoughts and prayers with no substance because they are not backed by lifestyle and action.
|Concepts of price tags and ownership are seen as illusion. Everything is free. Nothing and no one owns us and likewise we cannot own anything or anyone else.
||Concepts of price tags and ownership are seen as real and necessary for survival. Therefore, out of fear of loss and lack there results pursuance of copyrights, a focus upon ownership, attitudes of non-sharing, as well as the treating of life and others as entities to buy from or sell / market to. The world and others own us and we own others and the world.
|Truth focus. Material life is an illusion. Focus is upon manifesting love and truth.||Illusion focus. Material life is real and important. Focus upon manifesting illusions.
Figure 1. Accepted Spiritual Truth versus Prescribed Lifestyle
Figure 1 is a chart of some of the contradictions that stand out to me. The left side of the chart pertains to what many in the new-age community consider to be a reflection of spiritual truth. It is how we define and discuss our spiritual essence. The right side of the chart expresses the societal lifestyles and practices that we within the same new-age community tend to not only live by but to espouse and promote (i.e. especially through abundance centered philosophies that focus on what can be manifested externally.)
This chart is not meant to foster judgment, nor is it meant to assign individuals to one camp or the other. Its purpose is to help people awaken and begin to question current Western world spiritual philosophies in new ways. In fact, the left and right sides of the chart are not necessarily opposite one another. They simply offer different perspectives concerning what our incarnated experience may mean to us.
In fact, I do not believe we have to rigidly live by the spiritual principles that are listed on the left side of the chart. I do not even believe it is fully possible to do so within our current consciousness or understanding. However, I do believe that we can give ourselves permission to let go of actively pursuing the goals on the right side of the chart, especially if we understand that this pursuit will not ultimately help us find inner peace, self-worth, or happiness. The ideal would be to find a middle ground so we do not have to live our lives too split.
|Lifestyle based on unity consciousness, increased self-sufficiency and freedom.||Lifestyle based on separation consciousness, dependency and competition.
|Interdependent communities arising based on shared responsibilities, land sharing, co-operation, use off-grid power sources and barter systems. Less reliance on corporations and banks. More control over purity of food sources and of necessities. Greater Health.
||Communities which are dependent upon culture, norms, governments, laws, external constructs and institutions (including banks, toxic power sources, corporations). Less control over purity of food sources and necessity. Poorer health and potential sensitivities to chemicals and impurities.
|Living Maturely. Less need for toys. Less dependency upon parenting via government, external power sources and institutions. Instead there exists interdependency, self-sufficiency and responsibility. There is less blaming of parental structures for problems within the community because the community and its members take responsibility and are motivated toward being part of the solution.||Living childlike and helpless. Need for toys and to be externally provided for. Dependent upon external “parents” (governments and institutions) to guide and provide. No responsibility, blames parent (external forces and institutions) for what it cannot take responsibility for. Is too dependent and helpless to be motivated toward being part of the solution when it comes to societal issues.
Figure 2: Spirit Centered versus Material Centered Living
Figure two offers two different types of lifestyle (I do not suggest there are only two, these are simply two extremes.) The spirit-centered lifestyle may seem unattractive to many of us because we have been so heavily conditioned to enjoy and accept our child-like dependency. I will discuss the effects of certain patterns of living more in later chapters of this book [I Am The Lotus, Not The Muddy Pond.] I merely include this figure here so that readers can envisage an alternative ‘ideal’ when it comes to our lifestyles that we could work toward, if we wish to live lifestyles which are in more alignment with our spiritual ideals of peace, love and harmony.
 While counseling Kalamas of Kesaputta, regarding the uncertainty and doubt they felt about which Brahmans and monks were speaking the truth within their doctrines and which were lying, Buddha gave his criteria for accepting or rejecting doctrine. Kālāma Sutta (as translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, 1994)
Mandy can be found at www.mysticmandy.com. Her book titled "I Am the Lotus, Not the Muddy Pond" may be read free online here>> . Mandy also created a deck of Messages from Archangel Ariel that were channeled toward Earth Healing. Find the message of the month here>>
There is a group who focus on Earth Healing, Love, Prayer and Unity 8pm EST nightly. Prayer can be dance, song, ho'oponopono or anything that focuses on praise, appreciation for life, living things, spirit, and how we are all enough/blessed. Anyone who wishes to join us, please do. More info at www.facebook.com/newworldhealing