I usually don’t use the word spirituality, and I see that most of what I explore and write about here can be given that label.
Spirituality as an escape. Spirituality – as anything else – can be used to find comfort or as an escape, and I do that sometimes. I find comfort in “spiritual” images of reality or the future. I distract myself from uncomfortable feelings, thoughts and situations through “spiritual” things such as prayer, meditation, inquiry or writing here. And there is nothing wrong there. It’s innocent. It’s confused love. And what I can do is notice my stressful thoughts, inquire into them, and find what’s more true for me.
Spirituality as sobering. Spirituality can also be quite sobering. If I see Spirit as reality, then spirituality is a conscious alignment with reality. It’s an exploration of what’s honest for me in an ordinary human sense, and in my immediate experience.
The Work is often quite sobering. It helps me see how I have lived my life from believing a thought, how may life may be without it, and I find my own practical advice for how to live my life. All of it is sobering.
It’s sobering to meet and open to certain experiences, such as physical pain or uncomfortable emotions. I may have avoided these for most or all of my life, and now there is a 180 degree turn to opening to them. That too is often quite sobering. I get to see my tendency to avoid certain experiences, how I have lived my live by avoiding them, and what’s there to feel and experience.
It’s sobering to find love for my “enemies”, for people, situations and experiences I believe my thoughts about, and wish were not there. I may find love through ho’o, prayer, tonglen, the Big Mind/Heart process, and other approaches, and may also notice it’s all already love. I get to see how I have lived and live from confused love (resentment, anger, frustration, grief). I get to see how it’s to live from a more clear love, and perhaps from recognizing myself and all as already love. And I get to see my fears and beliefs in shifting from the former to the latter, and can take these to inquiry.
It’s sobering that experiences – states, emotions, situations – always change. It brings my fears and thoughts to the surface. I get to see thoughts telling me some things as good and desirable, and other things as bad and undesirable, and the struggle I create for myself when I believe those thoughts.
It’s sobering that people, situations and life itself appears to “require” something of me. Again, I get to see what’s left. I get to see my own wounds, fears and beliefs. I get to see which thoughts I still hold as true, even if it’s mainly at an emotional level.
It’s sobering that reality already allows it all – this situation, these emotions, this pain, these images and thoughts, this identification. Seeing this, I get to see where I am not consciously or emotionally aligned with reality. I get to see what’s left for me. I get to see my wounds, fears and beliefs. The thoughts I hold onto as true, which makes me think that what’s here is wrong, it’s not good, it’s not Spirit.
If spirituality is a more conscious alignment with reality – with all as Spirit – then spirituality is, by definition, sobering.