Transcendent or spiritually human?

I didn’t get as much opportunity to hang out contemplating my spiritual path as I’d hoped while in Marin, but I managed to do a bit. A long conversation with a dear friend clarified a few things. At a key point in our talk, we realized that her desire for her spiritual journey is to”not be here”–in the sense of moving to that expanded space where the self disappears—while my desire in spiritual life is to be me with a stronger connection to my divine essence.  The way we see it most people lean toward one or the other (with variations on the themes).

Now a long argument could be made that the two places are the same and/or that spiritual practices will lead to the same place regardless of your goal. I don’t completely disagree as I think a lot of arguing over spiritual matters is really a war of words rather than concepts. But I also think a lot of traditions divide along the same lines, some being more about transcending the physical and others being about creating a bigger version of your human self. And I think that generally speaking it helps if you know which of the two goals suits you and then to choose the tradition and/or practices that align with your goal.

Part of the reason my eclectic path has contained some confusion is that I’ve studied traditions on both sides of that line and I find that they don’t mesh that well, at least not for me. It feels so much better just to have seen so clearly what I’m aiming for (we can talk another day about whether aims or goals are OK…). A friend who’s great at right listening is a wonderful gift.

Do you know what your spiritual goal is? Are you following a path that aligns with your goal?

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4 thoughts on “Transcendent or spiritually human?

  1. i think i have thought about these two paths independently, but never compared them. i believe that i have been a traveller back & forth, from one t the other, throughout my life. or i have morphed from one to the other. the question is, which one? this is such an interesting thing for me to ponder… my spiritual goal. perhaps i am feeling a little all over the place because i haven’t clarified for myself what my goal is at this point in my life. thank you so much for posting!!!

  2. I like this post–it’s something I’ve thought a lot about the deeper I go into a meditation practice. I practice Zen and we meditate with open eyes, focused on the wall or a point on the floor because the idea is to take our meditation practice with us into the world. For me transcendental is probably not a good thing. I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to escape from reality, so it’s helpful for me to have a practice that keeps me grounded in the real world.

  3. I see what you’re saying about two paths — both end up in a place of compassion for our shared humanity, but start with different premises.

    It seems that the transcendent path starts with the idea that humans are fundamentally flawed and need to work at being more kind, compassionate, generous, etc. The spiritually human path relies on the foundation that humans are fundamentally good spiritual beings or souls having a human experience and we are bound to work through our issues through the workshop of life.

    For me, I need a transcendent connection to something greater than myself. I connect with the transcendent most clearly in nature, especially the night sky. A nature based transcendent connection helps me to deal with the realities of human perfection, both my own and others.

    Not sure if I have a spiritual goal — that is a good question that I will have to ponder more. Perhaps, a good goal for me is to stay connected with the transcendant through nature to be more fully human and compassionate with all of Life.

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