There has been much distress caused by New Age spirituality only focusing on love and light, while ignoring the shadow side. While this is true, I wish to offer another perspective… what if, instead of blatant denial, we needed this unbalanced approach to wake people up? For some, it is the concept of love and light and bliss and oneness that make them start to consider something bigger than their conditioning. It served a purpose.
I know a teacher that says her calling is to take humans and teach them to be gods – to wake people up. Hard job, but totally necessary. My calling is to take gods and teach them how to be human. I work with people who are already awake, and struggling with integration of light and dark, of soul and ego. This is why so much of my writing has to do with the ego, and shadow work. Okay, my beautiful gods and goddesses, let’s look at the foundation of being a spiritual human…
The New Age stuff starts at the top (oneness, unconditional love), and works down, like a trickle-down spirituality. Works about as well in the long run as trickle-down economics, but at least it wakes people up. The only way to actually attain those spiritual goals (yes, it’s totally possible) is to build from the ground up, starting with a firm foundation. Boundaries and discernment are essential to personal and spiritual growth. Without boundaries you are open to abuse of all kinds. Without discernment you are open to addiction of all kinds.
Boundaries are about self-knowledge, and what you are willing to allow in your life. So many people are stressed out because they keep attracting the same kind of partner or job, but I am less interested in what they attract, and more interested in how they handle it. Do they see the pattern? Do they walk away from abusive situations? Only you can say “no” to a situation. By doing nothing but complaining about it, you are telling the Universe “Yes, please, more of this!” Working from the top down, you visualize what you DO want. Working from a foundation of firm boundaries, you walk away from what you DON’T want. Keep saying “no”, until you can say “this, or better”.
Discernment is about staying on your path. No one is passing judgement on you, yet there are things that will evolve you and things that won’t, and everyone is different. Working from the top down, everything is of the Light, therefore everything is good. Working from a foundation of discernment, things are equal but different, and you have the responsibility of choice (free will). You can choose to live on fast food and never exercise, or you can choose to eat raw food and do yoga everyday. They are both valid choices, but will result in very different life experiences. Free will matters. Discernment matters. Whatever will evolve you, choose that.
A couple of traps to avoid…
Hedonism isn’t a spiritual path. Enjoying physical pleasure is fine, but when it becomes the goal of existence, you are off path. Human bodies are prone to addiction, and pleasure-seeking encourages that.
Learning from a teacher is different than following a guru. If there is pressure to stay with a teacher, or if you feel like you couldn’t live without them, then check your boundaries.
Learning a lesson isn’t the same as tolerating abuse. The biggest lesson of an abusive relationship is learning how to walk away. Building strong boundaries is necessary. No one can grow until they feel safe.
Struggling with life issues isn’t a sign of failure. We are meant to “struggle with God”, or have growing pains. God comforts the disturbed, and disturbs the comfortable… Growing pains indicate growth, rather than decay.
Yes, there are many other layers to your personal development, but the foundation is always important. Only you can say “no” to situations that are hurting you or limiting your growth. Only you can discern what choices will keep you on your path. Life is waiting for you to take these steps, and build your own foundation to your Inner Temple.