“We do not have to be ashamed of what we are. As sentient beings we have wonderful backgrounds. These backgrounds may not be particularly enlightened or peaceful or intelligent. Nevertheless, we have soil good enough to cultivate; we can plant anything in it.” ~ Chögyam Trungpa
From Earth we are born, from Her breast we are fed, and to the soil we shall return.
I believe we are all spiritual beings.
From the two-legged, to the four-legged, the creepy-crawlies, and belly-slitherers, the winged, the gilled, and all that grow do so by grace and in accordance with nature.
We need not recognize this or even do anything about it, necessarily. Walking a spiritual path is a personal choice, but compartmentalizing our essence from its innate connection with Earth is actually an impossibility.
There is freedom in the model of spirit as nature, as well as deeper accountability.
Nothing needs to be done in our quest for enlightenment that takes us outside of our existing experience of our humanity. There is nothing to add. Nothing to take away. And nothing that we can do, or fail to do, that enhances or prohibits our spiritual connection. However, if nature is intrinsic to our spirituality, then there is no need for the supernatural, either.
There is at our core simply goodness, wildness, and an inextinguishable desire for life.
One of the things that people tend to involve in their spiritual supplications is our desire for more. We pray for more, we do rituals to help us receive or manifest more.
Humans have needs: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Compartmentalizing those needs can even further drive separation between mind, heart, and body. And that is antithetical to health which arises, naturally, when we are in dynamic balance.
Nature is abundant because it produces in harmony with the needs of the ecosystem.
However, the way nature’s balance is maintained is not always what humans would consider altruistic. Animals may have spontaneous abortions. Predators may go on killing sprees to thin out an overly prolific herd of herbivores. What tends to happen is that the behaviors of the creatures within the system shift in balance to nature’s capacities.
So what we see is that abundance (in nature) isn’t about having a surplus of crystals, fancy cars, big houses, glamorous vacations, or the perfect portfolio. Natural abundance is simply having enough.
Nature does not ask that we leave our bodies behind to experience spiritual transcendence. Quite the contrary. A spiritual and personal relationship with Earth invites us to embrace our bones, our flesh, and our multi-faceted nature.
Curiously, it is often people who have issues around self-worth who seem to have the most difficulty in developing balanced relationships with health, wealth, other humans, and even nature itself.
It’s almost like some sort of mind parasite slips into our psyche at a key phase of development and instead of going forth experiencing ourselves as an intimate, intricate part of creation, we, instead, experience ourselves as having to strive for acceptance.
We could blame our parents for this misconception of our place in the universe. We could also take this idea of needing to prove ourselves to be worthy to the Abrahamic creation story as the source of distortion. For those who believe in original sin are forever striving to win the love and acceptance of their spiritual father.
Within a flawed origin paradigm, everything that we do becomes a form of spiritual materialism. All actions and prayers are geared not at appreciating and contributing to an innate state of harmony, but at vying for a favorable position in the eyes of the lord, our families, and society.
Spiritual materialism (not to be confused with spiritual naturalism), a term coined by Chogyam Rinphoche, however, denotes the use of spiritual practice to satisfy the urges of ego.
And what does the ego desire? Typically…more.
The ego craves more comfort, more possessions, more money, more sex, a better body, a better spouse—a better existence. Having needs and desires is not a problem and should never be a source of shame. But it is also not the foundation of a spiritual practice.
So how do we honor the needs of a human being who is, incidentally, also a spiritual being, without turning our search for health, wealth, and a fulfilling life into a mimicry of spirituality?
We need to actually accept our ego. This is a funny thing because the ego is not actually a thing. We can’t touch it, taste it, hold it, or hack it up. But we can still manage to grow it or shrink it in proportion to how we tend, feed, or ignore it.
We can also look for the signs that the ego is active.
Defensiveness and self-righteousness are strong egoic markers. When we find ourselves slipping into either of those states, see them in another, or recognize them, systemically, then we can bring awareness to the fact that we are in the presence of an ego-infested individual or system.
How can we begin to recognize an egoic takeover?
Take a breath.
Feel into our own bodies for indications that we, ourselves, may be in an egoic grip. Physical tension and defensive posturing—puffing ourselves up to overpower or intimidate, or shrinking ourselves to make others more comfortable—are also indicators that we are in the grips of ego.
And how can we release that grip and return to a more natural state of balance?
Recognize that you are worthy of simply existing—without needing to prove your worth—and can attain the skills you need to exist in comfort and style.
Is the desire for comfort and style a little egoic? Maybe. But it’s okay to have preferences and it’s not a sin to want a pleasurable life any more than it is a sign of your spiritual prowess if you have attained one. Just don’t confuse the two and everything will be fine.
So, as humans with an interest in the esoteric, the mystic, the non corporeal, or even the religious, where does that leave us? Or, more importantly: where does that lead us?
It would seem that our search for spiritual meaning can only, actually, lead us right back to our raw, tender, often-bleeding hearts.
Take a breath and another.
Feel the thrum, pulse, and bump of life moving through you even as you ride life’s bumps!
You are here—at this moment.
Now go get a beer, a piece of chocolate, float the river, whatever floats your boat. Don’t forget to smile, appreciate, and honor the people, places, and things who support you.
Realize the same air that moves through your lungs is the breeze that blows over the vast golden prairies, howls through the blue mountain valleys, and lifts the lungs of every child born on this planet.
Now tell me that isn’t sacred.