A while back I wrote a post in which I discussed the many variations in spiritual paths and concluded that it’s a good idea to decide what principles you believe, especially if you’ve chosen to follow more than one path. At the time I was becoming aware that my eclectic path—from New Age to Huna to Buddhism to Hopi with a big vein of yoga and dollops of Sufi, Taoism and more—had left me confused and that the choice I advocated was one I needed to make.
More recently it came into clearer focus. I realized that in a lot of ways I’ve been just been spinning in place since I started studying Buddhism 14 years ago. Up until then I followed the New Age philosophy that “you create your own reality” and then I became interested in Huna, which, on the surface, is probably the closest tradition to New Age—at least as taught by the few teachers who write about Huna. The core belief that what you think (believe) creates reality means that if you change your thoughts you change your life. Currently this idea is discussed more as the Law of Attraction.
Teachings on this path encourage you to create and affirm visions of what you want in order to have the life you wish. Buddhism (among others) advises that you should not want anything—or that’s how it always seems to me. Desires and attachments, according to this thinking, lead to suffering and the way to end suffering is to end desire and attachment. I know lots of people think that all paths are the same, but, while I see that they all lead to the same place, I find they are often contradictory in their theories of how to get there.
I have long thought that the main thing about any path that leads to success in connecting with your divine nature is the depth of your belief in that path. Because I believe that thoughts create reality, I also think that sincere belief in any path and its precepts leads to God. But following two paths with contradictory beliefs left me without one coherent framework to follow. Hence the spinning.
When I first saw that I’d been going in circles around these conflicting ideas I started trying to resolve it. But for a long time I just alternated between creating a vision of the reality I want and then beating myself up for wanting anything. In the meantime I kept up with practices from meditation to pranayama to chi gung and let my mind contemplate the various principles in the background.
I have a mind that naturally synthesizes so I decided to let it all whirl gently without worrying about it. In recent weeks it’s finally coming together—that’s its own post. If you, like many of us, are dabbling among paths—some Eckhart Tolle here, some Thich Nhat Hanh there, a little Native American saging and weekly yoga classes for instance—you may have some log jams of thinking. It’s worth separating out the various logs to make sure you don’t have opposing concepts running in the background. If your subconscious is confused in the midst of conflicting principles then your practices may not succeed. Personally I think the hardest part is creating your own blend in a way that’s consistent.
Posted for ABC Wednesday – today it’s “P”.