At some point, I’ll arrive. I’ll be stable. I’ll have it all figured out. I’ll have enough money. I’ll have the house and family. I’ll have a good job. I’ll be respected. I’ll be loved. I’ll learn to love myself. I’ll find a state that’s peaceful. I’ll be enlightened. I’ll be in paradise. I’ll have found nirvana. God will love me.
There are many versions of having arrived and yours may be different.
This is the fantasy of the part of us that feels that something isn’t right, wants it to be different, and hopes that will fix a more fundamental sense of something not being right. And it’s perfectly natural and understandable.
And yet, it’s a fantasy.
It’s a fantasy of parts of us that are unexamined and often unhealed and unloved.
It’s a fantasy we seek refuge in so we can find some comfort and a sense of safety, if only in an imagined future.
And if we look a little closer, we may find it’s a fantasy that creates discomfort and fear when we fuel it. When we hold it as true and identify with its viewpoint.
EXPLORING THE FANTASY OF ARRIVING
So what’s the solution?
One is to examine this fantasy.
When I explore this for myself, I find it’s an image of an imagined future. It comes from a part of me scared of discomfort and uncertainty. It’s something I go into in order to find a sense of safety.
It’s out of alignment with reality since I cannot know anything for certain about the future.
And holding onto it is uncomfortable for just that reason: it’s out of alignment with what I already know – that I cannot know. I am not honest with myself, and that’s inherently uncomfortable.
Holding onto it distracts me from noticing that I have already arrived where I am now. Holding onto it may distract me from shifting how I relate to what’s here and now and find more genuine peace with it.
I can also connect with this fantasy and the part of me that wants to hold onto it.
Where do I feel it in the body? What images are connected with it? What (stressful) stories are behind it? How is it to dialog with this part of me?
What does it want to tell me? What would help it relax?
How is it to see that it comes from a wish to protect me? That it comes from love?
How would it be to meet it with kindness and patience?
How is it to give it – here and now – what it really wants? (A sense of safety, love, being understood, etc.)
How is it to notice that its nature is the same as my own? That it happens within and as what I am?
And so on. There are many ways to explore this.
WILL WE EVER ARRIVE?
Will we ever arrive?
The most honest answer is that I don’t know. How is it to find peace with this not knowing? I may as well since it’s here. I don’t know for certain and cannot know for certain.
At the same time, I can say “no” since everything is always in motion. The content of experience is always in motion, and often in unpredictable ways. There is nowhere to arrive.
I can say “no” because the idea of arriving somewhere is an idea. It’s created by the human mind. It’s not inherent in reality.
And I can say “yes” because we already have arrived. We are already here. This is it. For me, any ideas – about the past or future or arriving or not – happen here and now. I cannot find it anywhere else.
How do we make sense of all the chaos and breakdown of the world as we have known it during the past few years?
First Covid, now the Ukrainian War, as economic issues, climate change and other issues lurk on the horizon.
Is there a larger context holding it all in a way that is meaningful and reassuring to our souls?
Here’s our take:
Humanity and the Earth are entering into a time of profound, existential transformation.
For millennia, human souls have been gestating as third-dimensional, physical “caterpillars.”
But now we are entering into the chrysalis of transformation.
All that we have known of ourselves and our world is dissolving, so that a new species of 4th- and 5th-dimensional, luminous, divine human “butterflies” can emerge — Homo Luminous.
We can find spiritual fantasies in all forms of spirituality.
The quote above is one example. We experience what humans have experienced throughout history: We have pandemics, war, a possible famine, and so on. It’s routine. And instead of recognizing it as routine, and using it to heal and mature, some go into spiritual fantasies to make sense of it and feel better about it.
This article became quite long so I thought I would simplify it in this summary:
We rely on mental representations – mental images and words – to orient and function in the world.
And they can be more or less accurate in a conventional sense. Sometimes, they correspond to something and are relatively accurate. And sometimes, we cannot find what they refer to or they may be inaccurate in other ways.
Spiritual stories are also fantasies. Sometimes, they are relatively accurate, and sometimes what they refer to doesn’t exist or doesn’t exist as anything close to what our stories tell us.
What I’ll write about here are the spiritual fantasies that we are invested in, for whatever reason.
They are the ones I cannot verify for myself. They are typically about something “out there” (in others, the world, the future, the past). And I am invested in the stories in order to feel better about myself or the world, or sometimes to fuel my fears. (They have an element of wishful or fearful thinking).
What are some examples of these spiritual fantasies? It can be about an afterlife. Some imagined future jump to a higher dimension. That awakening will give us a lasting desired state or solve all our human problems. Or anything else we label spiritual, cannot check for ourselves and are invested in to feel better. (Or to fuel our fears.)
There is nothing inherently wrong with this. It’s natural. It’s necessary until it isn’t. Sometimes, what the stories refer to exists and sometimes it doesn’t. And these spiritual fantasies tend to become more “subtle” on an awakening path. They can take the form of mental representations saying we are consciousness, awakeness, oneness, love, capacity, and so on. (Which is not necessarily wrong, it’s just that investing in these mental representations is not what it’s about. These images and words are pointers, not important in themselves.)
At the same time, there are inherent drawbacks to spiritual fantasies. Mainly, they distract us from what’s here. And what’s here is what we all deepest down long for. We long for noticing the wholeness and oneness we already are. And any idea of finding what we are looking for “out there” is a temporary distraction and misdirection. It’s a distraction from focusing on healing at a human level, and from noticing what we are.
We can also make use of these spiritual fantasies.
We can use them as a mirror for what’s here.
What’s the spiritual story? How is it to explore this story as I would a dream? How is it to see all the elements of the story as mirroring parts of me? How is it to dialog with these parts of me? Or take the role of these parts and see what they have to say and how they perceive me and the world? (Voice dialog.)
When I turn the story to myself, can I find specific examples of how it’s true – in the past and now? Can I find in myself the characteristics and dynamics the story describes and points to? How is it to get to know it in myself and embrace it?
We can use these spiritual stories to notice that they happen within our mental field. We can notice the mental images and words making up these fantasies, and we cannot find what they (literally) refer to outside of these images and words.
We can investigate the story through different types of structured inquiries.
For instance, what happens when I hold the story as true? Can I find genuine examples of how the reversals of the story (when I turn them to the opposite and to myself) are equally or more valid? (The Work of Byron Katie.)
What do I find when I explore the mental images and words, and how the mind associates them with particular sensations in the body? How is it to notice that the sensations lend a sense of solidity and perhaps even truth to the stories, and the stories give a sense of meaning to the sensations? Does that peek behind the curtain remove some of the fascination and magic from these stories? (Living Inquiries.)
How is it to find myself as capacity for these stories and what they may refer to? How is it to notice they – and what they may refer to – happens within and as what I am? Does this soften the fascination of these stories? (Headless experiments, Big Mind process.)
We can use them to practice being more honest with ourselves. It’s a story. I cannot verify it. I notice a pull in me to invest in it to feel better. (Or to fuel my fears.) And all of that is created by my own mind.
To recognize a spiritual fantasy, I can ask myself:
Is it a story I label “spiritual” or associate with spirituality?
Can I check it for myself? Can I know for certain it’s true? Would it hold up in a court of law?
Am I invested in the story? Do I wish to hold onto the spiritual story to feel better about myself or the world? Or to fuel my fears?
If I am honest with myself, and the answer is yes, no, and yes, it’s very likely a spiritual fantasy.
In general, spiritual fantasies are: (a) Stories we label spiritual. (b) They are typically about something out there – in others or in the world, or in the future or past. They are out there in space or time. (c) They are about something hidden and something we cannot easily check out for ourselves. (d) And we are invested in the stories. They help us make sense of the world, and we invest our hopes or fears in them.
OPPORTUNITY FOR EXPLORATION
When this happens, it’s an opportunity for exploration.
We can recognize the telltale signs of attaching to a story in order to take refuge in it. We defend it. Perhaps we proselytize and want others to know about the story and agree. We rehearse it in our mind. We seek out confirmation for it, even if the sources may be flimsy. We experience an emotional charge around the story. We create an identity around it. And so on.
We can then explore this in several ways.
We can identify the story and examine it.
When I look, where do I find the story? Can I find it outside of my own mental representations and what others tell me? And where do I find what the story refers to? Can I find it anywhere? Can I hold it up and show it to someone? Can I take a photo of it?
Can I know for certain it’s true? What happens when I hold onto it as true? How am I in the world when I hold it as true? What’s the genuine validity in the reversals of the story? (The Work of Byron Katie.)
What are the mental images and words making up the story? What are the physical sensations my mind associates with these images and words? What are the associations that come up? What do I find when I examine these mental representations and associated sensations? (Living Inquiries.)
What do I hope to get out of holding onto the story?
What do I fear would happen if I didn’t hold onto the story? How is it to feel this fear? Thank it for protecting me? Recognize it comes from a desire to protect me and from love? Find love for it, as it is? Give it what it deeper down wants? (A sense of safety, being seen, support, love, etc.)
Do I know that a story is a spiritual fantasy, but I still want to hold onto it? What am I afraid would happen if I don’t have it? What are my fearful stories? What do I find when I examine those stories? How is it to befriend the fear?
We can also use the stories more explicitly as a mirror. Can I find in myself what they point to? If I turn the story around to myself, can I find in myself here and now what the story says is out there? Can I find the characteristics and dynamics the story says is out there also in myself? Can I find specific examples here and now and in the past? How is it to get to know this side of me?
How is it to notice the story – and anything associated with it – happens within and as what I am? That my nature is capacity for it all? (Big Mind process, Headless experiments.)
In this way, we take any tendency to spiritual fantasies in ourselves and make use of them for exploration, healing, and a bit of maturing.
WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF SPIRITUAL FANTASIES?
The quote above is one. It’s something we cannot check. It’s a form of wishful thinking. It’s unnecessary and doesn’t give us anything of substance. It’s a distraction. It looks like something some cling to in order to feel better about themselves and the world and keep some unpleasant feelings (fear) at bay.
Any idea about an afterlife is another. This too is something we cannot check for ourselves while we are still alive. It’s something science hasn’t thoroughly examined yet. (Although there are some good efforts.) People use these stories to instill fear or hope in themselves or others.
In Vortex Healing, it’s when we attach to the story that by taking these classes, we likely won’t have to incarnate again. How can I know? To me, it’s just a story someone told me. Again, some seem to hold onto this story in order to feel better about themself and their life. It’s a comforting promise of escape from a life they struggle with.
It can also be any ideology we attach to and label “spiritual”, for instance, veganism. We tell ourselves it’s going to save the world, and we attach to it to feel better about ourselves and the world and distract ourselves from a difficult discomfort. (I am not saying there isn’t a lot of good in veganism. I am all for eating low on the food chain and I am aware of the many benefits for our health, for the animals, and for Earth. I am just talking about what happens when we attach to it as an ideology, as a belief that’s going to save us or the world.)
The conspiracy theories that circulate in the wellness and New Age world can be seen as spiritual fantasies. People go into them as a coping strategy, associate them – for whatever reason – with spirituality, and choose these particular fantasies because others in their subculture do the same.
It can also be fantasies about awakening. For instance, that awakening is a state free of discomfort. That it will magically solve all our problems. And so on.
In general, we may tell ourselves we know that things are a certain way. Yes, my stories and maps may seem relatively accurate and they work to some extent. But…. How can I know for certain? How can I know I am not missing something important? How can I know I won’t see it differently tomorrow or in ten years with more experience and new information? How can I know it won’t look very different in a different context? One I am not familiar with now, but would make more sense to me if I knew it? Any time I tell myself I know for certain something I label spiritual, I engage in a spiritual fantasy.
WHAT IS NOT A (SPIRITUAL) FANTASY?
When I write here, I try to avoid any form of spiritual fantasy. I aim to make it practical and something people can check out for themselves. Of course, I am not always entirely successful.
The only thing that’s free from spiritual fantasies is direct noticing. What’s here in my sense fields? In sensations? Sight? Sound? Smell? Taste? Movement? Mental representations?
Anything found in the mental representations – mental images and words – is, in essence, a fantasy. It’s created by the mind. These can be more or less accurate in a conventional sense. The more accurate ones help us orient and function in the world. And the rest are more obvious fantasies.
Even when we explore our own nature, it’s often mixed in with some spiritual fantasies. We may partly notice directly our nature. (Find ourselves as capacity for the world as it appears to us, and what any content of experience happens within and as.) And there is often an overlay of mental representations of whatever we expect to find. (Oneness, love, capacity, and so on.) Sometimes, we may look at a mental representation and assume it’s a more direct noticing of what it points to. Sometimes, we are conscious of the mental representations and use them as pointers for a more direct noticing. And often, it may be a bit of both.
THE USE OF SPIRITUAL FANTASIES
Spiritual fantasies are useful in a couple of different ways, as mentioned above.
They can serve as a distraction from our own discomfort. This is useful whenever we are not ready for meeting and exploring it more directly. We may not be in the right place in our life. We may not have the tools and skills. We may not have the support for doing it. We are not ready until we are. And the spiritual fantasies are necessary for us until they aren’t.
And they can serve as a pointer to something in us to explore and get to know. As just about anything else, we can use them more intentionally to find healing, wholeness, and notice our nature.
SPIRITUAL FANTASIES WITH AND WITHOUT A CHARGE
I should mention that spiritual fantasies can come with or without a charge, or with different types of charges.
I can imagine the spaghetti monster from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (Pastafarianism). For me, this has a slight charge and is associated with some physical sensations. But the charge doesn’t tell me that it’s true. The charge just tells me I find it funny and I love the intention behind that particular church.
I can imagine an apple as a spiritual deity. For me, this has no charge. It’s clearly not true. I recognize it as just a fantasy. And many spiritual ideas are like this too, for me. For instance: God is a blue boy. (Krishna movement.)
And if I consciously believed something, for instance, that “I” somehow will continue after this life, it would have a charge telling me that it’s true. My mind creates the mental representation of it, it creates certain physical sensations in my body through tensing up certain muscles, it associates the two, and it uses the physical sensations to give a charge to the mental representations and tells itself the sensations means its true. (Of course, when we recognize this and notice it directly, it seems slightly ridiculous and the fantasy tends to lose its sense of reality.)
HOLDING FANTASIES AS TRUE
Spiritual fantasies may be more or less accurate in a conventional sense. They may refer to something in existence that’s actually there in some way.
What this article is about, is more the dynamic of (a) creating a story, (b) calling it spiritual, and (c) investing in it in order to feel more comfortable or safe. That’s something that’s worth investigating no matter how accurate or not a story is in a conventional sense.
And it’s really about any story we hold as true. Ultimately, any story is a fantasy whether it’s accurate or not in a conventional sense. It’s created by the mind to make sense of ourselves, the world, and existence. The stories are inherently different in kind from what they point to, they are simplifications, they cannot hold any full, final or absolute truth, and they can be more or less accurate in a conventional sense. And the dynamics of holding a story as true is more or less the same no matter what the story is about.