Spiritual Critiques

Understanding a spiritual teacher, a spiritual philosophy or a popular spiritual idea can be difficult.  It helps to understand the tradition the teacher or idea develops from as well as the underlying assumptions about the nature of reality.   These essays try to put spiritual teachers and ideas in their context as well as evaluate them.

I have spent the last thirty five years following my spiritual path.  One thing I have learnt in those years is the necessity of getting it right. If you get a divine intuition, you had better follow it. If you are offered an opportunity by a significant connection or are called to your next significant activity, you have to do it well. Otherwise you can wander off your spiritual path and end up lost, wondering where you have gone wrong. It is even more critical for our society to get it right as otherwise we could all end up in an environmental disaster.

In the last twenty or so years, alternative spirituality has become popular. Atheists and skeptics usually just outrightly dismiss these spiritual teachings.  On the other hand, New Agers often seem to accept all spiritual teachings as equally wonderful.  That does not seem a good strategy. Although many teachers claim that all their teachings are based on pure experience that does not seem to be true. Spiritual teachings are almost always based partially on a person’s worldview and some worldviews are better than others as they help us to live more spiritually and will help our civilization survive.

I have found that critical reflection has helped me to live more spiritually as it helps to separate what is true from my wishes and desires. When I read many spiritual teachings from popular teachers, I see an inability to separate real spiritual experiences from things people want to be true or think are true because they have heard them often. Even worse, the non-traditional spiritual community fosters this lack of discernment because it often encourages an atmosphere that disdains critical reflection and questioning. The community says that if something feels true, it is true or it is true for that person.

Trying to be spiritual is a serious matter, both for ourselves and our civilization. We have to get it right. That means we have to separate our real spiritual experiences from wishful thinking and our worldview has to be consistent. I have no desire to belittle real spiritual experiences as they are wonderful things. What I do want to do in this site is to try to separate real spiritual experiences from the things added on to them that mislead people from living in a spiritual way. The goal is to help people so that they can live more spiritually in the modern world and more easily discuss their spiritual life with other people. This approach assumes that using our minds and our critical abilities is not harmful to being spiritual, but can actually help people live more spiritually.

It takes a lot of time and energy to write these essays.  It does not help my career to write them.  I would not work on this site unless I felt it was my spiritual path.  If you find these essays helpful, it would be a kindness to tell me so by sending me an email or leaving a comment to that effect.

MY SPIRITUAL PHILOSOPHY

As I have written lots of words wondering about other peoples’ spiritual teachings, it is only fair that I put my spiritual philosophy out there so people can get an idea of where I am coming from.

The major principles of my spiritual philosophy are:

1)    Beyond our bodies, emotions, minds and personalities, there is a deeper Flow, God or Tao that we can get in harmony with.

2)    The goal of spiritual life is not mystical oneness with God or satisfying all our wants by using the power of our thoughts.   It is doing the work of God or the Universe in the world.  If we focus our lives on following God or the Universe or the Flow, our lives will have a much deeper energy and purpose to them.  It is like joining God’s team and the Universe’s energy flows through us filling us with its energy as we do its work in the world.  We do not get everything we want when we are on God’s team.  We get what we need.  We will be blessed with many wonderful synchronicities and amazing connections, but we have to clear away the impure personality desires that want inappropriate things.

3)    We follow our spiritual path through two major ways: our spiritual intuition and our connections.

4) Our spiritual intuition is our inner connection to the divine.   We can trust our spiritual intuition to lead us to the right place where things will work out for us on the practical level.   Following your spiritual intuition could be considered a form of active or worldly mysticism.  Active mysticism is a way of being connected to the divine but also being active in the world.   Thus it is different than the better known kind of mysticism which emphasizes experiences of cosmic consciousness or Oneness.  Active mysticism involves people getting beyond the ego to connect with a deeper spiritual reality and then getting divine voices, leadings or intuition to do something in the world. Throughout history some of the best known active mystics have been  Socrates, Moses, Abraham, St. Paul, the Sufi saint Khwaja Muin-ud-din Chisti, St. Joan of Arc, George Fox (the founder of the Quakers),  and Gandhi.  (There is more on active mysticism here.)

5) If you make a mistake in trying to follow your spiritual intuition, and get out of the flow, you can get right back in the flow once you discover the reason why you were unable to follow your messages correctly.  You do not have to suffer for your mistake.

6) Another way of following your spiritual path comes from what I call connections: people, activities, creatures, organizations, and situations that give us the love, money or food we need, introduce us to new things, and take us on to the next stage of our lives.  Oftentimes it is like these people are on our wavelength or they bring out a different side of us than anyone else.  Sometimes they are our parents, siblings, wives, first loves, or mentors, and they are around for significant portions of our lives.  Other times we encounter them for just an hour or for a summer.  With them, life is fun and meaningful and we succeed in that area of our life. These connections are like blessings of the Spirit or appearances of grace helping us along and giving us what we need to stay in the flow.   We have to make these connections and get the things we need from them if we want to keep having a good life. The people who make movies know about connections: the winners make them and get what they need to keep doing well in life.  The losers have some personality problem (usually some kind of self-centeredness or caring too much for things that are not appropriate for them personally) and do not succeed with their connections.

7) If we are trying to follow our spiritual path, but not getting the things we need, it is not because God has abandoned us, but because we are not following our spiritual intuitions or are not making our connections.  If you have personality problems that prevent you from seeing your connections or connecting well with them, your life can be very empty in that one area; for example, you can be miserable, lonely and hungry.  You might be sensitive to the fact you are missing your connection or you might just feel life does not have much to offer.

8)  We don’t create our connections or bring them to ourselves by positive thoughts or visualizations.  Instead a deeper, more subtle energy attracts them to us.  Around everyone’s body there is a subtle energy field.  Most importantly, in every relationship, some subtle energy flows from one person’s energy field into the other person’s energy field.  Without this energy exchange, a relationship cannot occur.  Because all relations are energy exchanges, whatever happens to a person is never inexplicable or purely random.  In order for any interaction or relationship to occur, there has to be an exchange of subtle energy between people’s subtle energy fields.  Thus only if a person had an opening in her subtle energy field to receive the other person’s negative energy could she receive it.  This means that nothing ultimately inexplicable or totally random ever happens in any of our relationships.  Bad things happen to good people because good people have less than pure subtle energy fields.

9) The openings in one’s energy field are not random.  They are a manifestation of her psychological and spiritual awareness.  The openings in a person’s energy field change as the person’s consciousness changed.  Some  New Age groups said that people were responsible for their relationships, but this is an infelicitous choice of words.  The word “responsible” implies one consciously wanted something to happen or was consciously in control of it happening.  The subtle energy view gives a person the ability to respond and deal with the situation by understanding why negative things are happening to her.

10)     The external situation of our bodies, physical environment, and emotional relationships are the best way to understand our inner troubles as our inner problems often manifest metaphorically on the outer level.  Freud thought dreams were the royal road to the unconscious, but reading the external situation is much easier, more accurate, and much less susceptible to misinterpretation.  There are techniques to look at what is happening in your life so that you can understand what troubles pull you out of the flow.

11) There is no state of enlightenment or being a guru in which a person can now stop evolving spiritually.  Everything flows, so a person has to continually put in energy to maintain contact with God, her inner spirit and her connections.  If you don’t keep moving forwards, you lose connection with this higher energy and the flow.  You can then experience quite negative troubles.

12) There is an Evil force that tries to stop us from making our connections.  This force increases our lower desires, and it wants  to pull us out of the flow and make it harder to see what our true connections are.

Much more about these ideas can be found here.  This is an autobiographical account of how these ideas were discovered and how to deal with problems in your normal daily life.

Copyrighted 2009

This essay was written by Joseph Waligore. He dedicated his life to following the will of the Universe when he was 20. Seven months later he received a message from his Higher Self or inner connection to the divine to quit Dartmouth College. Through following a deep intuition in a dream and after many synchronistic experiences, he met his soulmate and married her. He and his wife followed their spiritual intuitions in their daily lives, including receiving messages to have children. For twelve years he stayed at home and raised his three children while his wife worked. Then, his wife told him he needed to make some money, so he got a Ph. D. in philosophy from Syracuse University. He currently has a part-time job teaching philosophy and religious studies at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. More information about him can be found at his MySpace profile. He also has a website with information about his own spiritual journey and his spiritual philosophy.

There is a Facebook group called Flowing.  People interested in meeting other people who are interested in these ideas and/or participating in discussions about these ideas are invited to join the group.

Many people reach this site through keyword advertisements.  It might be of interest that Joseph got the money for these ads through his daytrading profits.