WHAT ARE YOU DEFENDING?: The End of Spiritual Posturing
Perhaps you’ve had a profound realisation that everything is just a story, or that there is no separation, or that everything is simply consciousness appearing, or that everything is ‘just happening’ and it’s not happening ‘to’ a person, or that ‘this is all there is’…
Great. These are BEAUTIFUL insights.
But life doesn’t end with insights.
One day, you encounter someone who fundamentally disagrees with what you are saying. You find yourself shouting at them, even abusing them. They are wrong and you want to let them know in the most dramatic way. In your eyes, they are ignorant and deluded and in the name of ‘compassion’ you attack them.
Very quickly, you move to justify your actions, because you know that ‘getting angry’ doesn’t fit into your concept of yourself as an ‘enlightened person’. The anger is a real threat to your spiritual ego. So you say things like “There’s no ‘me’ getting angry! Nobody is getting angry at nobody! It’s just anger appearing! Everything is just a story! It’s just life happening! It’s just consciousness! If you experience any abuse or suffering it’s YOUR story and YOUR problem, not mine!”.
Can you see how you are defending an image of yourself as an ‘enlightened person’?
Other images we may be defending:
“I am no-one.”
“I am not here”
“I have no self”
“I am fully awake”
“The ego is no longer functioning”
“I have a completely silent mind”
“I am pure consciousness”
“I am totally present”
“I am a guru”/”I am not a guru”
“I am a teacher”/”I am not a teacher”
“All seeking has ended here”
“There is no suffering here, ever”
My goodness, how easily we can use spiritual concepts to justify violence. (Of course, I’m speaking from past experience here!)
Oh yes, on an ‘ultimate’ level, it’s just anger appearing. It’s just fury appearing. It’s just violence arising in and as consciousness. On an ultimately level, it’s all deeply OKAY.
But, and this is the big BUT, is that really being seen in the moment?
If non-separation was truly being seen clearly in the moment, would violence (seeking) still arise?
Yes, there could still be clear, honest, authentic communication, and acknowledgement of any feelings present, but would the situation have been so charged?
In the moment when you yell furiously at your partner, your friend, your parent, your co-worker, experiencing real anger in the body, is it REALLY being seen that there is no separation? Is it REALLY being seen that there is only consciousness?
Or are you actually believing that there is someone ‘out there’ to be angry with?
Are you blaming a feeling here on an ‘other’ who is ‘out there’?
Then, in the moment, ‘non-separation’ has simply become a dead concept, rather than a living truth.
Is the utterly obvious being missed: that the ‘other’ is simply YOUR story of the other?
Is it being seen that your fury is your reaction to your own story about the other?
It’s one thing claiming that you are totally beyond separation.
It’s another thing yelling at your partner because they didn’t do the washing up, and then claiming that it’s ‘just yelling happening’ and ‘I have no control over it!’ and ‘there’s nobody here!’.
This is what I would call ‘spiritual posturing’.
Beyond all of our spiritual posturing, what’s really going on?
What’s really true, in your experience?
Get honest: In the moment, what image of yourself are you defending? (Could you even be defending the image that you have no image of yourself?) (Or perhaps even the posture that you’re free from posturing?!)
Nobody can answer this question for you.
Freedom calls for radical honesty here.
The moment you are defending an image of yourself, others become a threat to your identity. Violence begins here.
There is the possibility of seeing through all these images of yourself, including the ‘enlightened’ images, the ‘spiritual’ images, the ‘Advaita’ images, the ‘no image’ images. Compassion – and real freedom from violence – begin here.
This is the invitation. There is already completeness, AND life is the constant invitation to SEE the completeness, in every moment, in every interaction, in every situation.
This is not about becoming a ‘perfect human being’ – whatever that would mean.
It’s about a total embrace of all ‘imperfection’, here and now, in the midst of every experience.
Ultimately, it’s all already deeply OKAY.
And, there is this constant invitation to explore the NOT-OKAYness, rediscovering the OKAYness in the midst of it.
And ultimately, whether or not the invitation is accepted, it’s still deeply OKAY.
And so, if you’re still open to life, open to exploring, fascinated by suffering and how it arises, this is a beautiful invitation to accept, moment by precious moment:
What are you defending?