Pondering my philosophy

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”.


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11 thoughts on “Pondering my philosophy

  1. Interesting post, Leigh. Here’s how I think about it. Envision a circle, and what is inside the circle is Divinity. Around the circle are all the different religions, philosophies, spiritual practices. All of those are routes to access the Divine. Each approach has been shaped by the culture in which it arose, often to address issues pertinent to that culture. We all have Divinity within us, and have a longing to merge our personal Divinity with the whole of Divinity.
    I studied the work of Paramahansa Yogananda, and got a lot out of it that shapes my thinking to this day. But some of his lessons contained what I considered to be dogma. I guess that is the litmus test for me. If it sounds like dogma, which to me is “you have to do this…”, I disregard that part of the teaching or practice.
    Thanks for provoking me to put that into words. Now I can examine it myself, and see if it is really true…my truth anyway!

    • I think the spokes circling to divinity is a good image. I guess I just find creating a new spoke for me means that I have to blend paths in a way that has coherence. Getting beyond mind is certainly important but my mind gets stuck when it perceives contradictions. While I can meditate or do a practice to sidestep my mind, I can’t seem to hold opposing principles in my philosophy and continue to move forward. Maybe that’s just me.

    • Well, for me, I found that moving toward the destination got stymied when I had divided thoughts about the path. If you’re good at just focusing on enlightenment and moving steadily toward it without practices nor a delineated path, you’re so lucky.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! I’m a dabbler too and really need to do some house cleaning as you describe. I look forward to reading about how it’s coming together for you.

  3. My sense is that some people don’t struggle with holding opposing ideas or paths together. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people!

    There’s so much of what you said in this post that resonates with me. The conflict between buddhism and law of attraction type philosophies and spiritual principles gets to me too. I tend to believe that there is truth in everything including the Christian principles I learned growing up. All the very different paths have left me spinning as well. None of them feel quite right for me.

    My most consistent spiritual practices are writing and walking to connect with the divine. I have a feeling about how eastern and western and other spiritualities could work together, but haven’t fully articulated it for myself yet. 🙂

    I’ll be very interested in reading about how everything is coming together for you!

    • That blend of east and west is what I’m working on–ever since I read Autobiography of a Yogi years ago and Yogananda’s guru told him a blend of the two philosophies was needed. I felt like Yogananda just brought the east over here, but I’ve been longing for a blend ever since. So if you figure something out I”ll want to hear about that too!

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