Thursday, March 21, 2013

Staring at the Sun: The Madness of the Spiritual Path

Sometimes engaging in spiritual work is a lot like sitting in a job interview where the interviewer asks fairly random and yet personal questions. The difference is that instead of giving a generic well-rehearsed answer, if we are to actually benefit and grow from the work there must be complete honesty, because in this instance we are both the interviewer and the interviewee. Let us take some* sample interview questions I pulled from a quick google search as our example  (just read “work” as in spiritual work and not career oriented):

What is your greatest weakness?
What is your greatest strength?
What have you learned from your mistakes?
How will your greatest strength help you perform?
How would you describe yourself?
Describe your work style.
Describe a typical work week.
Do you work well with other people?
Do you take work home with you?
How do you handle stress and pressure?
What motivates you?
Are you a self-motivator?
What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make?
Tell me about yourself.
What has been the greatest disappointment in your life?
What are your pet peeves?
What are you passionate about?
What do people most often criticize about you?
When was the last time you were angry? What happened?
If you could relive the last 10 years of your life, what would you do differently? Why?
What type of work environment do you prefer?
How do you evaluate success?
Describe a difficult work situation / project and how you overcame it.
What is important to you?
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
What are your goals for the next five years / ten years?
How do you plan to achieve those goals?

If you are like me this is a lot like being back in English class and having assigned writing in a journal on topics such as our most embarrassing moment, which I always BS’ed my way through. I had absolutely no intention of revealing anything so personal to any of my teachers. However; the idea of asking ourselves these tough questions, attempting to be completely honest in the answers, and recording it for further evaluation is a tried and true spiritual practice. All of this goes back to the axiom, “Know thyself.” After all, an individual cannot be expected to knowingly make measured spiritual progress without having identified a starting point. This is the starting point, and the practice is the yardstick for measuring.

STOP! It is all a trap. By focusing on answering these questions the individual is solidifying the ego and empowering it thus. The ego is the false sense of distinctiveness and by answering questions such as “What motivates me?” is a question asked directly to ego and answered in kind. The asking of the question assumes that which will answer is the true us and so asking it to begin with is a trap. So then how does the Witch avoid the ego in such self-analysis?

Once long ago, I was taught that if something is truly be understood that first what it is not must first be known. Now the exercise can make a little more sense. By going through this journaling process the Witch is able to effectively key in on the attributes of their ego and then they can set all of it to the side and look at whatever is left over. Now the Witch can finally look directly at their Self; the Self is the eternal part that transcends the I.

FALSE! To look directly at the Self is blinding, kinda like looking directly at the Sun. Instead, the softened reflection, via the moon, is the way forward. Oh, and the whole “look at that which we are not” thing is also a trap. To identify the Self is to simply transfer the ego from the I and via this transposition to create a secondary ego and false-Self; which can be a bottomless pit of illusion. Additionally, as the Self is the total sum, it is impossible to find a part of us not a part of it. The real error of our ways is to solely identify the I as the sum of the Self or vice versa. In truth, the Self is much much more.

The task that all of this leads to is to figure out what the I is and then look as what is left and then add it all back up, all without transferring the ego unto the Self but instead sacrificing it so that our Self emerges as dominant without a false-ego; AND if that was not hard enough, to do it all purposefully without going mad in this life-time.  

So let us start back at the beginning, “What is my greatest weakness?” Write that down. Now realize that is both absolutely true and completely and utterly false—simultaneously. But don’t worry about it. Instead focus on applying that knowledge to make yourself a better person. This practice, the little step, is wherein the reflection of divinity is found, the rest is merely semantics.

Boidh Se!


“Lost in a thicket bare-foot upon a thorned path.”

*By some I mean a lot.

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