What if real spiritual growth is organic?
What if it is not in a hurry and has its own seasonal rhythm? What if it is less like Tony Robbins and more like a tomato plant?
So much of what we call “spirituality” is actually about trying to get us somewhere we’re not. It’s what I call “steroid-spirituality” and it tells us we need to perform to become something else.
And it’s the same thing at the yoga studio as it is in the cathedral.
Steroid-spirituality is all about selling us an image of a destination. There is always some level of attainment, some enlightenment, some holiness, some evolved version of ourselves that is put on the screen and we are sold the path toward it.
It looks like a yoga sequence, or a meditative state, or a moral purity, or a transmission, or an altered state of consciousness. But underneath it all is a quality of striving to become something we’re not already.
Consider, if you will, the tomato plant.
A tomato plant is an amazing thing. It grows all on its own if you give it the right environment. It needs nutrients from the soil and sunlight. And, if it gets these things and is left to follow its own inner compass, it will bear beautiful, juicy fruit as its gift to the world.
And you know what happens when we put tomato plants on steroids? They look big and juicy but they have no taste. Don’t believe me? Go buy a commercially grown tomato and bite into it. Thanks to the steroids of science, we have a fruit that looks good but the whole gift of the tomato, its taste, has been lost.
It is the same with steroid-spirituality. And the cost is the unique flavor of our own being and truth.
The cost of striving to become an image we think we need to be, the cost of trying desperately to live a life that is not the one we are living now, is that even if we succeed, we have lost the most precious thing in the process: ourselves.
I should know. I used to teach steroid-spirituality.
I used to project an image and tell myself and others how to attain the same. I even had my own idea of what a spiritual teacher was supposed to look like, and I was striving to become something I was not.
I was the tasteless tomato.
And, you know what? There are only so many tasteless tomatoes you can eat (or be) before you start wondering if there might be another way.
Organic spirituality puts an end to the lie that we need to be anywhere other than where we find ourselves right now. It has become my mission to teach people how to grow right where they are, to harness the nutrients of the life they are already living, and allow their inner intelligence to produce delicious, juicy fruit to share with the world.
But how? How do we make the switch from commercial to organic spirituality?
Here are four important principles of organic spiritual growth:
1. You are the answer. Whatever the question your life is asking you in any moment, the answer is always the truth of who you already are.
Learning to distinguish that authentic melody that is you from the noise of culture and conditioning is a journey—and it’s not necessarily easy. But it’s simple. And that is important. Whatever response is called for, you can relax because it is something you already are.
Notice the word “relax.” Trusting that you are the answer eliminates the frantic search to figure out something you don’t already know or have. This makes all the difference.
2. Your body is the perfect spiritual technology. Instead of making the body a problem, an obstacle, or a faulty vessel that needs healing, organic spirituality understands the body as a spiritual instrument of the highest order.
When we are at home in our bodies, we have the best chance of receiving and expressing the truth. Simply learning to pay attention to our bodies as they are in the moment transforms our consciousness.
Our bodies are not optional in this life and they are not a problem. As we become present to our embodied experience, we harness all the concentrated spiritual energy that is physical matter. It’s a lot.
3. Your life is speaking to you. Right now, your life is speaking to you and giving you guidance. When we learn to listen to our lives, we get precious information that is customized just for us.
Our own direct experience becomes the authority rather than any external program or conditioning. Over time, with repeated experimentation, we learn exactly where we grow best and what conditions allow us to bear the greatest fruit for our communities and our world.
4. Your feelings aren’t a problem. Most suffering in our lives is caused by the unwillingness to feel what we are actually feeling. Instead, we create elaborate strategies and masks that cause endless suffering.
Everything changes when we allow ourselves to feel our emotions as they come. There is no story; it’s simply the truth of the moment and the feeling that is moving through. And without resistance, we allow ourselves to be ourselves and that is the only thing there is.
Organic spirituality is a path of direct experience that unfolds at a human pace and produces practical enlightenment, which is, in my experience, the only kind of enlightenment worth having.
Author: Ernest Morrow
Editor: Catherine Monkman