We live exceptional moments of spiritual generosity. Without making spiritual vows or undergoing a single initiation, we have at hand more spiritual tools, teachings, and practices than ever before available to any group of people, at any time in human history.
And yet, despite this abundance, it has never been so difficult to come by spiritual discernment, or to go beyond the shallow promises of spiritual consumerism permeating popular culture, and to embark deeply on our own path to awakening. Encouraged by the fashions of our time, we seek spiritual sales and quick solutions.
We want to know this secret which will put us on the fast track to enlightenment and indulge in all the whims of our ego. We may even believe that if we only become spiritual enough, we will magically receive an exception to the realities of the human condition, becoming less prone to loss, pain, and disappointment in a regular human life.
Led by a funny miscalculation, we fully expect to be saved by enlightenment, mistakenly believing that by starting to live a more spiritual life, we will bypass the struggles of human life. Ironically, as our spiritual understanding increases, the opposite occurs.
As we mature spiritually, the gap between the spiritual and the ordinary begins to close, we, of course, continue to face challenges, but we no longer repress this human limitation. We stop trying to be special and start to appear as we are; we stop trying to manipulate reality to be the way we want, and instead of deepening our intimacy with life as it is.
As we surrender our spiritual program and embrace our human brokenness, paradoxically self-judgment subsides; self-improvement gives way to acceptance, certainty to mystery. Ultimately, no matter how many books we read, the workshops we attend, or the peak experiences we have under our belt, spiritual growth is not a life hack, it is not the game of acquiring more and more gifts, knowledge, or spiritual distinctions.
Rather, it is a slow, intimate, and vulnerable process of untangling, letting go and surrender that opens us wide. This openness is the place of magic. Here are five hacks of spiritual life, or rather unhacks, for our awakening souls. Ready?
1. Kindness is the highest form of wisdom:
A great transformation occurs when we begin to cultivate an attitude of unwavering kindness. Kindness to even the most troublesome parts of ourselves.
It is only through the eyes of kindness that we can truly see, that we are able to recognize the preciousness of all the nuances of life and to cultivate true love for ourselves and for others. By choosing kindness, we honor the most direct and highest form of wisdom: the wisdom of the heart.
Because the heart accepts everything as it is. It knows no judgment, demands no improvement, it cares about everything. When we give in to this radical acceptance, life regains its innate dignity.
Release the pressure to demand that things change, and suddenly everything is free to move naturally in the direction of wholeness. But true kindness is not for the faint of heart. It is a spiritual rebellion that always begins with the Self.
Turn these tables of self-cruelty. Silence the self-improvement merchants. Remove all the icons of gods and men from the walls and hang a mirror. Whatever idol of a better you, that you placed on your altar, let it shatter now. Let yourself enter your own Holy of Holies exactly as you are. Fall into your own arms and never let go.
Incredibly, it is only when we fully penetrate our hearts and grant each other our kindness that it can naturally begin to spread over all others. When you feel lost, overwhelmed, angry or frustrated, whether it is shame, blame, guilt, or fear that are wreaking havoc, simply acknowledge your experience, give up your judgment, and whatever your kind of pain, be nice.
2. If you follow your bliss, doors will open where there were only walls:
There is only one command, commit to your Self. Make the voice of your soul your only allegiance. It is the voice of the living deity. Until we enter this final alliance, we are pushed by the winds of karma, our real goal drowned out by the noise of split intentions.
The only commitment, the deepest devotion, our ultimate spiritual marriage turns out to be with us after all. This is what we hear when entering our Dharma, our service to the world. To awaken and serve, we must first take the leap of faith in our own arms.
A turning point in each life occurs when we begin to redirect our lives to our true North. Often such a moment is preceded by a dark night of the soul when everything begins to collapse when our stories about ourselves can no longer last when our plans and hopes are shattered on the ground and our arsenals of tools of transformation and spiritual ideas no longer bring us refuge.
As everything we knew collapsed, we began to listen more deeply to the still small voice inside. This is how true North begins to reveal itself. Because the still small voice speaks in the language of the desire of the soul. What you most long to do is a treasure map for your soul.
This dream, firmly anchored in the most secret room of your heart, is an echo of the desire for life. Right now, commit to following your happiness and make no mistake about it, the doors will open. You have to go through them.
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3. A fully alive, fully human, and awakened being is continuously thrown out of the nest:
In a world obsessed with certainty, security, and personality, we spend our lives trying to keep what we know, what we have, and who we are. And as it plays out in the arenas of the spiritual market, it may seem that the whole enterprise of spiritual growth is a project to arrive at a more ideal situation.
However, as our path unfolds, all that we hope to receive through our efforts begins to crumble. Whenever we think we have reached our destination, that we have finally found a permanent refuge, the ground beneath us moves again and we are thrown once more from the nest that we have built thanks to our most sincere spiritual efforts.
And even if at first we see these falls as signs of failure, we finally realize that this perpetual dislocation is actually a sign of life’s embrace. As the consciousness rises, like Jacob fighting with the angel, we come to be constantly dislocated, and therefore perpetually blessed.
As we surrender to the dance of enlightenment, we cease to grasp for the safety of what we know and who we are, for the ideas that seem so solid and deep for a while. And as life stretches us, our relationship with discomfort changes. For someone looking at a seed, growth could look like a disaster, with all of its bursts and twists, signaling the death of the seed.
However, those who know growth intimately see it as the bright wisdom of life. Although completely destroyed, it is only through such an opening that the acorn could become oak. Discomfort, pain, and difficulty often accompany our own spiritual germination. After all, we are planted in our own land and must open up to grow.
In the end, everything makes us move in the direction of completeness. In the end, we already have within us the pattern of awakening. Trust your Buddha nature, you are already what you are looking for.
4. Be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn, in this case, you should still be a unicorn:
Be a unicorn. Your circle is not intended to fit into someone else’s square peg; your circle is a whole without a periphery. We are generally born into rigid worlds filled with rigid rules, where from an early age we are supposed to be anything but what we are.
It is rarely safe to depart from narrow expectations and we quickly learn to adapt to our surroundings, cultural norms, and social demands, numbing the pain of self-betrayal until we cannot no longer make the difference between who we are and who we should be to survive and succeed.
Rightly so, we become very invested in ourselves and build our lives around improving and protecting our hard-won identity. Let go of that little self. Unleash it in Wonderland. Instead, be a unicorn. Your own wildest and most unconditioned life.
Who would you be if you didn’t need to survive in the real world? What if you didn’t need anyone’s approval or acceptance? If you did not need to integrate, to stand out, to adapt in some way to the outside world? What would you do with your life, what would you create?
Now, we’re not implying that life is an eternal Burning Man festival, although going to Burning Man at least once can serve as a great lesson in becoming a unicorn. However, the ultimate goal of the spiritual journey is, in fact, to burn the false self, to cease to identify with our history, and to remember our own original face. It is the face of freedom.
You were born of stars and you will return there. You are too vast to fit into the narrow box of existing structures, standards, and expectations. You are here to give birth to a New Earth. What wild vision signals your heart?
Let your difference light up the world. It is in absolute integrity with your own soul that you can begin to offer your gifts unique to the world. And the world will respond in kind.
5. Difficult times require furious dancing:
Although it seems intuitive to assume that the very purpose of the spiritual process is to transcend the body into a higher mystical state, in reality, the most vital part of the spiritual journey is in fact fully embodied in our human lives.
Embodiment is the name of the game, beloveds, and dance is the most direct way to embody our soul. In other words, we awaken in our bodies, not outside them. Dancing will awaken your shakti, invigorate your senses, summon your soul.
It is no wonder that since long ago, people have been dancing together celebrating, worshipping, and participating in a sacred ritual. Unfortunately, in our disenchanted modern world, apart from a runaway drunken dance club, we have few opportunities to come together in the community and discover the freedom and healing bond of the tribe.
Fortunately, the dance is returning with fury. Awakening the whole world, tribes of dancers of dancing souls have appeared in communities of conscious movement all over the planet. Whether it is ecstatic dance, contact improv, or 5rhythms; whether with a friend, a dance class, or with your own children.
Whatever your shape or style, find a way to connect with other souls and get together in dance. Dancing in a chosen tribe will fly you away from helplessness, release stagnant energy, unlock the throes of isolation and open your heart to contact because it has long dreamed of being opened for too long. Especially when times get tough, get up, give in, and dance. Let life dance you and let dance be part of your life.