By George A. Boyd ©2020
Q: When does someone become mature enough so they can embrace the spiritual Path?
A: If you examine what governs people’s lives, we can characterize seven major stages:
- Whim governs your life – You act on any idea that occurs to you. This leads to chaos and disorganization, and you seldom achieve anything worthwhile.
- Other people dictate what you do in your life – In this stage, other people define your life, and tell you what you should be, do, and have. This leads to a life where you feel empty and inauthentic.
- Passion governs your life – You pursue a primary passion: for example, making money, being famous, becoming powerful, or making love to beautiful women or men. In this life pattern, you do whatever it takes to realize your desires and dreams, regardless of how it affects you or others. You feel temporary pleasure when you realize one of your desires, but then emptiness and boredom set in. [Some people operating at this stage use alcohol and drugs and constant distraction to deaden these unpleasant, underlying feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy, and phoniness.]
- A quest for meaning governs your life – You dedicate you life to uncover your genuine values. You jettison the false values of materialism and other people’s programs for your life, and you begin to discover who you are. At this stage, a humanistic counselor, an existential therapist, or a coach can help you discover your genuine Self.
- You govern your life through aligning your goals to your core values – Once you know who you are as a human being, you can create a life based on what you truly want to achieve—a life that gives you real satisfaction and fulfillment. At this stage, you can also benefit from coaching, which can support you in reaching the vision of your future that you visualize for yourself.
- Spiritual awakening reframes who you know yourself to be – You enter this stage when you have an out of body experience, a peak experience, a psychedelic encounter with a god-like part of you, an infilling of the Holy Spirit, or the rising of your Kundalini. When this occurs, you have a glimpse of something greater than your personality. [People react to this experience in one of two ways: (a) It frightens them, and they seek to shut down the experience—they may believe they have experienced temporary insanity and they get medication from a psychiatrist. (b) They explore this experience further, and try to understand what happened to them—this openness to go deeper into this experience, we call the neophyte stage of the spiritual Path.]
- You dedicate your life to the spiritual quest and inner development – If you choose to explore this initial awakening experience more deeply, you begin the aspirant stage of the spiritual Path. During this phase, you discover your true spiritual essence and your Soul Purpose. Those who achieve this reorientation around this higher spiritual essence enter the next phase, discipleship. During discipleship, you develop the spiritual essence with which you identify along its track, until you reach the Other Shore of Mastery and Liberation.
Spirituality is not something you can natively integrate until you have passed through the first five stages.
At stages one to three, you are living a life that is not real, that is not authentic. You have to let go of these patterns of idle imagination, the agendas of others, and the addictive fascination with the bright shining illusions of materialism. Each of these externalizes you, and alienates you from your genuine Self.
At stages four and five, you discover your genuine Self, and begin to found your life on your real values—not the values of others. At this level, you can benefit from psychotherapy, counseling, and coaching.
At stage six and seven, you reach beyond your personality to experience your transpersonal life, and you embrace your spirituality.
Your questions about who is mature enough to enter the spiritual Path?
Those who dwell at stages one to three are not ready for spirituality—they’ve not even discovered who they are.
Those at stages four and five are building the foundation for spirituality through constructing the bedrock of character and a life established on living their genuine values.
Stages six and seven can be entered in a stable way once the personality has been made ready.
Q: How can Mudrashram® assist others in this process of embracing their spirituality in a stable way?
A: We can assist others at some of these stages; but at other stages, people are outside of our ability to assist them. For example:
At stage one, those whose lives are governed by whim follow a path that leads to madness. These need the help of a social worker, a psychiatrist, and a psychotherapist. These are outside of our purview: those at this stage are not candidates for the spiritual Path.
At stage two, those whose lives are governed by others, often experience abuse at the hands of others. Those who direct their lives might be:
- Parents who raise them in a dysfunctional family
- Religious, political, or terrorist groups that re-parent them to follow this group’s leader’s agenda
We can assist these ones through our dysfunctional family or cult recovery coaching programs. These programs are designed to help these people rehabilitate their lives, so they can find wholeness, and be ready to embark on their spiritual journey.
At stage three, those who are near the end of their dance with an addictive passion—and have tried to deaden their feelings with alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, or thrill seeking—can receive value from our addiction recovery program. When they have uncovered the real issues that made them pursue their addictive patterns and address them, they can re-own their genuine Self and rise to the level when they can become open to their spirituality—to pursue what 12 step groups call the 11th step.
Those at stage four and five, who are seeking an authentic life, will find our life coaching program helpful. Indeed, in each of our coaching programs, we give exercises to help those who are taking the programs explore the deep questions of stage four.
However, our true strength in Mudrashram® is guiding others through the aspirant Path, and leading them through their disciplic journey to Mastery and Liberation. We do this through our beginning, intermediate, and advanced meditation classes that teach others how to awaken spiritually and how to transform themselves to reach their highest spiritual potential.
Q: Who influences people at stage two? Who governs their lives?
A: There are several scenarios through which people come under the control of others. These include:
- Parenting – dysfunctional family upbringing leaves lasting issues you must work to overcome
- Peers – getting involved with gangs and criminality leads you into involvement with the criminal justice system and the dangerous criminal underground
- Politics – political cults that develop around charismatic political figures can take charge of every aspect of your life
- Religion – religious cults that develop around charismatic religious and spiritual leaders can dictate every aspect of your life—behavior, beliefs, values, choices, and life direction
- Radicalized groups – terrorist groups that form around doctrines of hate and prejudice can waylay your life and lead you to acts of violence and crime
- Military and police – militaristic groups can program your life to regard others as the enemy; you are ever vigilant and ready to go into battle with the enemy, forgetting about your own life in the process
- Media – Influential media personalities can shape your beliefs and values; this is typically a gateway to involvement to scenarios three, four, or five.
Q: How do you avoid letting others shape and govern your life?
A: Until you know who you are and what you stand for—it’s very easy for others to control you. Look beneath the surface, and you’ll discover they are manipulating you through fear, shame, and guilt to enact their agendas. They give love and approval if you do what they want; they make you afraid, shame you, threaten you, and make you feel guilty if you do not.
Q: How do you get free?
A: Well first, you have to leave: get out of the arena of their influence. You need to find a safe place where they cannot find you.
Next, you have to heal and discover through you are and what you stand for. This isn’t an easy process: it’s hard and often painful. It means you have to look at each way others used and manipulated you. A therapist or support group can help you do this.
Q: It seems like most of this process to awaken to spirituality is a personal journey.
A: Yes. You have to genuinely know who you are before you can authentically embrace your spiritual nature.
When cults get a hold of you, they can lift you into the spiritual realms, but they do so before you discover who you are as a human being.
In this case, you are readily hypnotized, manipulated, or programmed to carry out the cult leader’s agenda, instead of living your genuine human and spiritual potentials.
So instead of living the core values of your life, you’re living to bring people to Jesus or to enlist people to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. You don’t know who you are or your genuine Soul Purpose—rather, they are giving you an identity and having you carry out their purpose.
That’s why it’s important for you to reach personal maturity before you start the spiritual Path. This enables you to free yourself from other people’s thrall and start from step one—knowing who you are and knowing what you stand for.
You can achieve the first step, knowing who you are as a person through psychotherapy, coaching, and our Introduction to Meditation Course. You can learn to awaken your authentic spirituality—your attentional principle and spirit—and unfold your Soul’s spiritual potentials in our intermediate courses, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program.