The famous poet Rumi said there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. In some translations it is a thousand ways. I like this even better. Of course that was before there were seven billion people on the planet, so I think he would bump up that estimate. This was a poetic way of saying there are countless spiritual paths, countless ways to bow down and honor what is sacred.
Hallelujah! You can stop looking for some authority to tell you how to find the divine and listen inside, opening the ears of your heart. Or maybe it’s the feelers of your heart. Notice that Rumi said (via his translators) “kiss” the ground. Whatever your spiritual path, I hope you follow it out of love rather than fear and that it intimately fits you.
This is a broad-strokes approach relevant both to those who follow a particular tradition and those who are finding their own way. It is about deepening the connection to your own essential nature, the radiance within, and fashioning from that an integrated spirituality—one that you live every moment of your life.
As you will see, this path is not separate from psychological healing, but is rather an extension of it. The personality and psyche are the outer surfaces through which the inner light shines. The more we’ve cleared the obscurations, the brighter our light. Spiritual traditions are very much about this light, although we’re often approaching it as out there rather than something that is found within. We can encounter it both within and outside ourselves, because this light is without demarcating boundaries. It is one light.
This is a journey I’ve been on my whole life, focusing my adulthood (personally and professionally) on the healing parts. I’ve also poked around in various spiritual teachings and was on a particular path of psycho-spiritual growth for sixteen years. These days I find more interest in the intersection of paths and where they all lead. I’m on an inner path whose outlines are constantly shifting. You could say I am “unaffiliated,” yet spiritual awakening is itself a process of affiliating—connecting.
Much of the writing in this book is light-hearted. That is on purpose. Light-heartedness opens us to dimensions we can’t otherwise get to. Spiritual life was never meant to be dreary. Not a chore but rather a place of celebration. At times I may seem irreverent to you. Know that in my heart I am not disrespectful. I love the sacred. I’m just having fun and poking at a few sacred cows.
In the first section I talk about the journey in more general terms and hope to motivate you a bit. Part II, First Lessons, includes some basic tools and capacities to start developing right away. As you’ll see there’s not a firm line between spiritual and psychological work; they weave back and forth. Part III helps you cultivate essential qualities that are part of your true nature. This is followed in Part IV by Lessons for Living, which are about living in this world as a spiritual person. The last section tackles what I am calling spiritual conundrums: some of the more contentious issues in spiritual life, such as attitudes about spiritual authority, ego, and aspects of our human life often sacrificed, such as desires, emotions, and the rational mind. As I like to joke, when you lay out your opinions as baldly as I do here, there’s something for everyone to dislike (and much for you to like!).
Since I’ve framed many of these as lessons, I’ve included “homework.” These are questions to contemplate and exercises to play with that can help you integrate the material. Of course no one is looking over your shoulder so you can do whatever you want. My intention is only that you learn and have fun. Blessings on your journey!