Sprituality as a way to avoid feeling what’s here


Spirituality can be used as an attempt to avoid or compensate for discomfort.

That’s very understandable, and very human.

We experience pain and suffering, and see spirituality as a way to avoid it, find relief from it, or compensate for it.

And that’s true, in a way. We can use spirituality to try to avoid the pain for a while. We may try to land in bliss and peacefulness, to avoid feeling the pain and suffering.

We may wish for love, bliss, and peace to compensate for the parts of us that are in pain and suffering.

That may work for a while, but life doesn’t seem to allow us to do that for very long. Life want us to be more real. (Yes, I know life doesn’t really “want” anything, but we can put that story on it. Another way to say it is that life invites us to be more real.)

And what’s more real is to rest with the pain, suffering, discomfort and contractions. To notice and allow it. To meet it with love. To ask simple question to see more clearly what’s already there.

To see that what’s there is not what we thought it was. It’s not really scary. It’s innocent. It’s from deep caring. It’s from love. It is love. It’s awareness. It’s what I already am. It’s OK as it is. It doesn’t need to go away. (And yet it often does, when we arrive at this.)



When we take ourselves to be this human self, we inevitably have a quite limited and skewed self-image, and there is inevitably some attempts at compensation going on. We think we are missing something, and try to compensate for it by seeking it out there, seeking to gain and accumulate it here, and manipulating the image we present to others and ourselves.

And this is brought into our relationship with spiritual practice as well.

For instance, I have since childhood felt uncomfortably different and special, so my attempt at compensating for it is to try to be as ordinary and normal as possible. And that is a tendency I bring into the spiritual realm as well. I want it to be as ordinary and unremarkable as possible and tend to emphasize that aspect. It is helpful for me to notice this, and also consciously acknowledge the other side.

For others, it may be reverse. Or if they started out with balance in this area, a balance around this too.