By George A. Boyd© 2016
Q: When does spirituality not make it OK for someone to be a human being?
A: In many spiritual traditions, the objective of their spiritual developmental Path is to realize God. This takes three major forms:
- Discovering Inner Divinity – This brings the knowledge that God dwells within the Soul as a Divine Spark. In this perspective, there is no attempt to transform this spiritual essence: one is content to simply be one with this Inner Divinity.
- Realizing one is God – This approach presupposes that there is some obscuring substance or force—Cosmic Illusion (Maya); spiritual ignorance; or mind in its unconscious, nescient form—veils the truth that one actually is Almighty God. Here, it is the sense of separate “I-ness” that is the root of the problem: one works to overcome this fundamental error of the sense of separation. This philosophy characterizes Vedanta and Advaita, which espouse that Brahman is the only Reality. This is also seen in Sufism Reoriented, Meher Baba’s Path, which declares that only God is real.
- Discovering a Divinized aspect of one’s nature, and moving this essence into the Presence of the Almighty – This method uncovers a God Self or inner Divinity within an individual (Microcosm), and then moves that essence into the Presence of God that ensouls the Macrocosm. This process disengages from the ego and the Self, and fully identifies with the essence that migrates into the Divine Presence. The Risen Christ Ashram, which unfolds the Astral Soul through the Cosmic Sphere typifies this style of spiritual work; other Paths that teach their followers to identify with a spiritual essence and move this into the Presence of the Divine as it can be known on their Path—while regarding the ego and the personality as hindrances to spiritual development—follow a similar approach.
In type one, one can have an inner Divinity, but can concurrently be a human being. In this approach, human life is a Divine Joke or Divine Play, and can be engaged in consciously and joyously.
In type two, one can only sustain the experience that one is God by holding human life and personality as unreal and illusory, and by maintaining the altered state of consciousness that allows one to perceive they are God.
In this scenario, the ego and personality can continue to function, but may be suppressed or attenuated to allow the state of Divine Realization to express through the body.
In type three—when the track of spiritual development interferes with the functioning of the personality or aims to dissolve the ego and the sense of a separate human Self—this deconstruction of personal identity can lead to states of spiritual narcissism and grandiosity. In this state, one believes that he or she is a God-like being, who cannot deign to act like a common mortal—similar to the way the “god-king” Pharaoh could not mix with the common people. If an individual in this state is subjected to probing questioning, they may become defensive, agitated, and even paranoid.
In Mudrashram® we see what is common with these three approaches is that the philosophical rationale they give for clinging to the Divinized state predicates that it is not all right to be a human being and to function in the world in normal waking awareness.
There are four major postures regarding spirituality. We first described these four postures in our article, “Learning to Be an Amphibian: A Model for Re-entry for Cult Members Returning to Society.” [This article was published in our book, Religions, Cults, and Terrorism: What the Heck Are We Doing?]
- Reject the existence of the spiritual world – This is the posture of the materialist, who believes only that which can be verified in the physical world is real.
- Reject the material world as unreal – This is the approach of those that advocate remaining continuously in an altered state of consciousness; and also those that seek to identify with Divinity embrace this posture.
- Reject both material and spiritual worlds – This is the perspective of the psychotic, who becomes immersed in the unconscious mind, tossed to and fro by the maelstrom of inchoate thought. By rejecting both poles, they lose the ability to function, to think rationally, or create a coherent worldview.
- Accept both poles – In this approach, one is a human being and a spiritual being and a human being, at the same time. One makes progress as a human being on personal goals; one makes progress towards one’s spiritual calling through inner work.
This fourth posture is the one we advocate in Mudrashram®: to embrace both your humanness and your spirituality; to respect and honor each aspect of your nature
The ego has its job to carry out individual units of behavior and to ensure the survival of your body.
The Self’s job is to create meaning and value in human life, and to create and enact your personal destiny.
The Soul’s job is to actualize and express its full spiritual potential, and to fulfill its Divine Purpose.
We suggest that rather than attempting to suppress or deny the functioning of the ego and the Self, one should empower and support them to do the job they were designed to do. In this way, one avoids:
- Derealization and depersonalization
- Delusional thinking
- Spiritual narcissism and grandiosity
- Inability to function effectively as a human being
- Paranoid mindsets and world views
- Manic judgment that arises from a grandiose perspective
- Suppression and repression of legitimate human needs and restricting the healthy expression of the human drive to growth and progress towards meaningful and life-enhancing objectives
We urge that those who believe that it is not OK to be human re-examine their beliefs and consider, as a more life-enhancing alternative, the Integral approach.