Hello Spiritual Seekers and welcome to Episode 5 of Think Spiritual.
As usual I’m your host, Mark, and today I’m going to first say, “Happy New Year!”
This is only the fifth chapter of the first season of Think Spiritual and I feel like it is going really, really well. I’m enjoying the process. I’m enjoying the topics. I’m enjoying learning while I talk.
I just hope there are some people out there actually listening. Anyway, on we go with today’s episode.
This episode is going to be in two parts as the first Think Spiritual Podcast of each month is going to be what I call my “Musings & Snippets” series. In the first part I will talk about whatever subject is on my mind and the second part will consist of a short piece of a discussion that has been edited out of a longer conversation.
So, onto part one: I’m going to recycle and revise a talk I did a couple of months ago during the preliminary phase of figuring out exactly what this online exploration was actually going to be: in other words, what the Think Spiritual podcast was before it was the Think Spiritual podcast.
During this last Christmas I was visiting my parents and had a conversation with my mother about a speaker slash teacher I had been listening to and how he had really opened up my mind to new interpretations of some spiritual principles that I had shoved to the back of my thinking.
My son remained completely silent while we talked, leading me to correctly assume that he did not approve of my extolling the virtues of this particular teacher.
My assumption was later proven true. My son doesn’t like this speaker slash teacher due to some conflict and controversy he has been a part of.
I will not get into the details of who this teacher is or of his ongoing controversy. However, the experience raised a few questions for me: is it right to throw out the truth of what someone says about one particular subject just because they may say something you don’t like about an entirely different subject?
I don’t believe this would be right.
Does what this teacher says in regards to one subject, invalidate his other message that I got so much out of?
No. His message that opened my mind is not invalidated in the slightest.
Does our perception of a person change the way we hear their words and our interpretations of what they are saying?
I would say that our perception absolutely changes everything.
A few years ago I realized something important: all of human life is based on concepts. We exist in a physical universe, but how we deal with that universe is entirely conceptual and subjective. Each one of us has our own subjective experience and we can have no other experience except our own.
When I say to you, “Wow, the sky is a beautiful blue today!” you know what I am talking about because we have agreed on the concepts of “sky” and “blue” and the concept of “beautiful” may or may not require a slightly wider degree of compromise to come to agreement on.
However, this does not at all mean that we experience the beautiful blue sky in exactly the same manner.
We could use our reason and possibly even technology to arrive at a reasonable assumption that we are optically seeing the same hue of beautiful blue sky, but the experience is still not identical.
We have only our own experience to draw upon and we must use our reason to decide if we accept another’s experience as valid or invalid or as a truth or a falsehood or as valuable or of no consequence to our own experience.
We must use this same reason and draw upon our own experience when deciding who we are going to listen to, what information we are going to take in and what we are going to discard.
I must use my reason to decide if the teacher I listened to still has something important to tell me. I must also use reason to determine if I am allowing my opinion of him to be coloured by others. I am doing myself a disservice if I stop listening to this teacher simply because my son does not like him.
In a similar vein, a few months ago when I discovered that two thinkers I listen to on a semi-regular basis disagree harshly when it comes to the concepts of the “Self” and “Free Will”.
I got really confused for about half a day. Do I stop listening to one of them? How do I choose which one? Only one of them can be correct, right?
This is the nature of all spiritual work. This is opposition. This is the time for growth. Sometimes great thinkers disagree – often to the point where they split and never talk to one another again. Sometimes there isn’t a clear road. Sometimes the path is muddled and obscured; sometimes there is no path at all and it’s up to you to blaze a trail.
You have to think about learning spiritual practices much as you would go to university to earn a degree. A good professor will not teach you how to follow one specific way of doing something (that would be a “dogma”). They will teach you how to think about something. Then, when you come across a problem in the real world that you have never seen before you will at least have some concept of how to work through the problem.
As for the two thinkers I listen to, they definitely have more knowledge than I do, but they are just has human as I am. They are not on my path and I am not on their path. What is right for me at this point is the middle-ground approach. Somewhere between the opposing opinions of these two teachers is where I need to be.
I am not saying that I am right and they are wrong. I very well could be wrong and may find myself leaning in one direction or the other at some point in the future. Then again, even if I am wrong, so what? As long as I keep seeking and learning I will eventually let go of my “wrong” ideas and move on from there. For now the middle-ground approach is the right direction for me.
It seems that all humans experience the pull of the pendulum. This opinion over here pulls you one way and this one pulls you to the other extreme. We are seeing this polarization more and more in Western society today and when someone speaks out against it one or both extremes lash out at that person without hearing what that person is really saying. Each extreme hears what they want to hear.
And that is exactly the case in regards to the first speaker slash teacher that I mentioned. Neither the extreme left — who really hate him — nor the extreme right — who are practically waving banners in his name — are actually hearing what he is really saying. His core message is lost on both extremes because they are so focused on one specific topic that he took issue with.
It is not my job to defend this man and that is partly why I am not even bringing up his name. My job and my loyalty is to hear and apply his core message to my life because it came to me at a time when I needed to hear it.
I could have been very closed to his message as I tend not to listen to right-leaning speech, but I would have missed an opportunity to hear very great Truth had I not been open and willing to listen.
I am tired of polarized and extreme opposite thinking. I lived that way for a long time through my Christian years and during my short bouts with Atheism. I know that the middle-road is the saner path for me to take. I know that I have to accept truth from all sides and all directions if I am to be a whole and complete individual. I know that I have to listen to my Self and decide on my own path.
And I know that you can do that as well.
* * * * *
Well, that was part one of today’s episode and now we are going to shift gears into part two.
As I alluded in the introduction for today’s episode, this second part is a snippet: it is a piece of a larger whole. I cut this chunk of audio out of a discussion that Christine and I were having before we started our primary discussion about her personal spiritual journey.
That particular episode will air in two weeks, but this snippet is actually from a first, not-very-good attempt at recording that episode. I rescued a few snippets from that recording and will ultimately junk the rest since we recorded a much better version later on.
Back to the point at hand: I’m hoping that this second part is not too drastic of a shift from part one – in my mind the topics are related: the first part being the use of reason to determine who you listen to and what course to set yourself on.
This second part of today’s episode will focus on how important it is to trust your intuition.
(Audio only. Transcription may appear here at some point in the future.)
And there it is, a snippet of conversation about intuition. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope it gave you some food for thought for at least a little while.
In summary of the two parts of today’s episode: use your reason to decide what your path will be. Use your intuition to guide you along that path.
Perhaps I could have said that right from the start and saved you a lot of time, but then what joy would I get out of the process?! 🙂
Thursday, January 11, 2018 will be the release of the next in the Examining the Spiritual Elements series. Perhaps I should be calling it Spiritual Movie Reviews, but I always feel that connotes a specific genre of movies rather than looking at a movie in a specific way.
That will be next week and the movie in question will be Thor: Ragnarok. I have been so excited about doing this one: it is an incredibly deep spiritual film and I hope you join me to hear about it.
I have been your host, Mark. This has been Episode Five of Think Spiritual podcasts and I think you have been a fantastic person for tuning in and listening to me ramble. Many thanks and always remember that if you choose to change your Self, you will change your world. See you on the next episode.
Change your Self; change your World.