So much of spiritual attunement is being available. Attunement implies a sensitive attention and readiness. A spiritually attuned life is not one that is planned in advance. It is not one that knows the answers or even the questions. Attunement is a process, a way of being. If the “doing” aspect becomes too important, the attunement is lost. Whether it is doing good works or doing evil deeds or just doing the list of chores the job demands, it is the attitude and the attunement that count.
With whom/what is the primary relationship? Is it with the demanding Controller who is most interested in checking off the to-do list? Or is it with the spontaneous daily flow of Life? What are we responding to? Where is our attention directed?
I find that I am easily seduced by my Controller. It is hard for me to believe that God would be satisfied with my working 1-2 hours a day and watching television in the evenings. Certainly, my Controller doesn’t condone that schedule. Not enough suffering or struggle. God does not require struggle. Actually, the fastest route to God is to release all struggle, not to have a position, and to accept whatever is. A simple Thank you, Your will be done suffices.
Why is that so hard for us humans?
My theory is that it is not because we would have to admit that we are not God and accept a submissive position, but that we would have to admit that we are God, that there is no difference between an all powerful supreme Being and the core of ourselves, and that, in fact, what is being asked of us is what we long for already–oneness. What a kettle of fish that is! We act like we are gods and that we want to work our wills and now we hear God saying, OK, You are. Do what you want.
I don’t know about you but that leaves me sputtering. Immediately my Controller intrudes and wants to structure the experience for me–Be perfect, Think before you speak, Be careful! And I stop breathing and become completely self conscious. I think I can hear God giggle in the background.
Accepting our oneness is another letting go, not taking on a new burden. It is not about performance that comes from a belief in separateness but from doing less. Doing as little as possible, actually. Waiting for direction and then acting instead of choreographing our weeks and months. It is not about having a five year plan.
What is this, you say? I am an adult. Any baby can do nothing. I have more to offer than that.
Do you? Unfortunately, God may not be interested. She wants an open heart and an open mind. Do you have that to offer? Are you available to feel any feeling that arises in you without reacting? Are you open to reconsidering your strongly held political beliefs? Would you take that person who irritates you so much to lunch? About that one whom you criticize in your mind, Can you say he and I are one? He shows me myself? Where is the line that is hard for you to cross? At Jesse Helms? Or Jesse Jackson? You are one with each of them.
On the surface the pre- and the trans- of spirituality have some commonalities–a small ego, spontaneous accepted feelings, presence in the moment.But a mature spirituality is based in a state that has developed a strong ego and then moved beyond it. So much transformational writing discusses the ego in pejorative terms, but having a strong ego is essential to the development of a mature spirituality. It is not a virtue to retain one’s innocence past the time when one has been called to be powerful. Innocence is a given. Living adds experience. Refusing experience is refusing to grow into one’s power. Individual power is a maturing and a refinement of the being we are born with. Trying to maintain the purity of a neonate is refusing God. Life demands that we engage. Participating in life soils us. We make mistakes and we cause pain. We acknowledge our responsibility and clean up our behavior. We do our work in therapy and clean out our closets packed with repressed material from our pasts. Each of these steps is essential but not sufficient for a mature spirituality. Responsibility extends to correct behavior, to emotional healing of our inner wounds, and then to the availability to respond to God momentarily from a place of wholeness.
We become increasingly more passive as we learn what living responsively/responsibly entails. Our action is directed and chosen, not compulsive to avoid our fears. We operate from a peaceful reserve which is funded by our daily practices of experiencing oneness (meditation, yoga, visualization, affirmations, prayer, journal writing). We are present to the moment and fully alive. We don’t struggle. Whatever happens we accept and say, Thank you, and we breathe.
Ruth Cherry, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in private practice in San Luis Obispo, CA. Her specialty is midlife when psychological and spiritual dynamics merge. The power of the unconscious at midlife to heal and to transform is tapped in meditation. Besides writing about meditation, Ruth leads guided meditation groups weekly both for the public and for inmates in a state penitentiary.