Guest author Michael Yoos has contributed a very good article. Feel free to provide some feedback or pose questions to Michael. Over to Mike:
Being Spiritual is Being Lovey-Dovey
I am love, you are love, we are love; so we should all be in a lovely state with loving emotions and accepting thoughts. We should all be sitting around the campfire singing songs and let God provide for us. Our spiritual teachers should be so loving in the way they act, because they are so advanced they will accept our actions and misunderstandings in the most positive and gentle way, as to facilitate all the lovely feelings and emotions that are so yummy. OK, maybe not all of the above right away, but since I am on a spiritual path I definitely should be progressing in such a way that suffering is experienced less and less until it has completely disappeared.
Not so fast. All of this sounds great, but we need to come to grips with reality, which may not be what you expect, but knowing this will make the transition out of suffering much more efficient, even if it may not seem like it at first.
First, there are many types of spiritual teachers that interact in different ways using their own methods. Some may seem so loving and gentle, saying Namaste in the sweetest way while bowing to us with their hands on their heart. Others may be very direct in explaining things, quickly correcting your misunderstandings with no worry of having to express in a loving and sweet way. All of these types of methods can be experienced by teachers who are either genuine or frauds. So, how to tell then, since appearing loving is not a true test?
A useful teacher is one that will help you understand things more clearly, either conceptually or experientially. A useful teacher will not promote a need to experience suffering to a high degree so your “ego” can be annihilated, this is irresponsible. A useful teacher is one that can be serious, but also have many laughs. A useful teacher will never humiliate you or put you down. A useful teacher will encourage you to search within yourself so you may know the truth, regardless of their approach. A useful teacher may not condone actions of others if they are disrespectful, offensive, or create drama that distracts from learning. A useful teacher ultimately cares for your well being and happiness, but understands you may have to experience some moments of unhappiness in the short term, to achieve a more lasting long-term happiness. Ultimately, you will have to discern for yourself if a teacher is right for you or not, and don’t hesitate to leave a teacher if they don’t feel right. Have allegiance to truth, not a teacher.
Now let’s cover the lovely states, emotions, and thoughts. It has literally taken your entire lifetime to get where you are at. You have acquired a lot of habits, which may take some time to break. You most likely have not been aware of beliefs, emotions, and thoughts to the degree you will become aware of them on a spiritual path. There are wonderful moments you can experience on a spiritual path, where you seem to be flying so high in a natural state of ecstasy. I can’t explain exactly how that happens, but it’s as if you have an opening within your body or mind, which releases tensions you have held for such a long time, and this feels exquisite. This can often lead to desires of acquiring more of those experiences and states. The thing to realize is, this is your new normal now. You have a new baseline. You may not have that same blissful state, because you are no longer in that lower baseline from which you will emerge out of again. Also, when you have this type of opening, it can bring about subsequent effects that seem as if you have moved backwards, because feelings and thoughts may seem more amplified, since they aren’t suppressed to the same degree as before. It’s of no benefit to judge yourself as moving backwards when noticing more negative thoughts or feelings. To the contrary, it’s quite good to be aware of them more than before, as it’s an indication you aren’t as caught by them. In the moment, you are not able to prevent negative thoughts or feelings from occurring, but you are able to practice accepting them with indifference so they move through your experience. At some point, it’s a matter of seeing there is actually no separate “you” experiencing any thought, emotion, or feeling, regardless of it being negative or positive. There is just experiencing.
Another perspective to consider is how you interact with others and vice versa. I’m almost always a proponent of being kind over right, however this doesn’t equate to always acting in a way people will interpret as loving. It’s often thought that if one is spiritual, their actions with others shall be done in a manner that appears loving. This is a misconception of what love is and what being spiritual means.
There is no magic formula on how one should act with others. Each situation is different, has to be considered in context, and some situations may call for actions that some would claim are the opposite of loving. For example, if someone is constantly trying to take advantage of you or there is a situation with heavy codependence, it might be necessary to set and retain firm boundaries, and perhaps even more. The other person may get very angry and claim you aren’t being loving. However, love is not personal manipulation and being spiritual does not always appear lovey-dovey.
Michael Yoos Bio:
As a kid, Mike would often lie in bed wondering how it was that he existed. He would contemplate and try really hard to experience what it would be like if he was not born. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to be born, but he had a genuine interest to experientially know how existence worked. He wouldn’t explain it with these words, but he literally did this as a kid. As he grew up, progressed through school, and developed a career in corporate America, he seemingly lost track of that interest.
Then, somehow in his 20’s, his spiritual interest was re-ignited. He doesn’t recall exactly when, but remembers starting a search for happiness in a few books. Mike wasn’t an avid reader, so he mostly searched for people, events, and situations that involved a “hands on” approach to experience things through experimentation. He found this thing called spirituality, and it consisted of all this so called “woo-woo” stuff that “normal” people in society weren’t aware of. The more he looked into what was out there in spiritual circles, the more he understood there was a vast selection of concepts, phenomena, and models that were classified as spiritual.
He eventually worked with his first teacher, for just short of a decade. Mike worked on himself from a psychological point of view, attended and graduated massage school, was initiated into several paths, learned several energy and healing modalities, had several master attunements, meditated regularly, performed a few types of specialized Yoga, had many so called spiritual experiences, and did all of this (and more) while continuing to work in corporate America.
Mikes history of spiritual exploration isn’t being shared to imply such spiritual accomplishments are necessary or impressive, but instead to help explain there is something even more beneficial and useful than all of this spiritual memorabilia, as well as convey that working a job is important and not an impediment to spiritual matters.
Mike’s teacher stopped teaching, and after being “on his own” for a few years, he had a major shift in clarity and interest. He somehow became aware of the desire to know “who am I, what is reality”. He became re-interested like being a kid again. He suddenly understood things his teacher used to say, which he didn’t grasp in the past. He would have memories of her past teachings appear in his awareness with great clarity. He understood that all the spiritual “woo-woo” was a distraction to true lasting happiness. His interest shifted from all types of phenomena to that which is aware of phenomena, which became clear was the only true place lasting happiness could exist.
Having found a new teacher and working with him for several years, Mike has been able to deepen his understanding of “who am I, what is reality”, both conceptually and experientially (which is most important). He is forever grateful to all his teachers and his entire life experience, as it all brought him to where he is now.