The Method For Achieving Spiritual Adulthood
Amidst all of your life's challenges, from the petty annoyance of dealing with those "difficult" people at home and at work, to the appearance of life's gravest tragedies, here is a principle that may help you to feel better: ALL of your emotional suffering constitutes childish patterns of fearful resistance to life’s flow that you can outgrow.
These automatic, emotionally charged, inner-pain reaction patterns were programmed into your psycho-neural network in early childhood by the so-called “adults” who consistently modeled them in your environment. Thus, you can de-program them from your inner response pattern.
Remember when your father blew his top because you spilled your juice on his clean, white shirt? Remember when your mother worried about what people would think about your shaggy, unruly hairstyle? Remember how your parents worried about money, or talked negatively about family members behind their backs, or expressed inner jealousy through shows of disapproval? Remember how your mother slashed your father’s self-worth with sarcasm, how your father tried to bully your mother into submission, how your mother could never be wrong in an argument, how your father made everyone nervous with his underlying current of anxiety and the constant threat of his explosive temper?
I can recall the sickening, insecure, disappointed feeling within me as a young child when I saw that I was depending upon childish, psychologically immature parents to be responsible for me.
What I was seeing, and becoming, was the nature of childishness, which is to be entirely self-centered and spoiled. By “self-centered” I mean that what they wanted from me was for me to behave in ways that made them feel good, which means placating and rescuing them from their internal, childish pattern of fear and dependency. In other words, they were depending upon me, the child, to give them the experiences that they wanted to have. They were using me, and that is what characterizes a childish human relationship: using one another.
By “spoiled” I mean the weak character trait that says, “I need what I want because I want it.” No matter how much you give to one controlled by the childish nature, it will never be enough, because it always leads to the belief that “I need more.”
The spoiled aspect of childishness demonstrates the panic-pattern of a drowning person who cannot think of the needs of anyone else, including the person who swims out to rescue him. He will pull that person down in order to lift himself up out of absolute instinctive desperation.
Childish adults really cannot care about anyone but themselves, and they cannot raise children above their own childish level.
When we are reacting to any event, situation or person with any form of emotional suffering, including feelings of fear, anger, desperation, impatience, degradation, lack and sorrow, we are caught up in an internal childish pattern that we have yet to outgrow.
Life is designed to grow us up, but we must cooperate with the process to achieve the inner peace, joy, unconditional love and self-sufficiency of true or spiritual adulthood.
There is nothing going wrong, nothing has ever gone wrong, and nothing can ever go wrong, in this creation of Divine Love. As a part of that creation you are entirely self-sufficient. Beyond the limiting, frightening stories that you tell yourself about yourself and about your life, you are truly safe at all times. Adults who are in touch with reality feel safe. Children and childish adults are consumed by fantasy and that is why they feel frightened.
Just because one has achieved physical adulthood does not mean he has achieved spiritual adulthood.
Childish adults feel dependent upon other people for their support, be it physical or emotional. If they have a relationship with God it is co-dependent in nature, meaning that they come to God from a needy, insecure, dependent place and beg God to grant them what they want, even though receiving it will perpetuate their neediness. In other words, they want God to spoil them. But God, like a truly wise mother and father, cannot do this for them, because God is all about helping us to grow up into spiritual adulthood, where true peace, security, and joy await us. This involves our realization of our true and total sufficiency or oneness with God.
Those who achieve spiritual adulthood live without fear. They don’t feel dependent upon other people for anything. They do not go to God with any special or particular requests, because they entirely entrust themselves to reality itself. They don’t feel attached to or dependent upon any particular outcome or condition coming or going, because they know that reality itself is good, is love.
Spiritual childishness engages us in a power-struggle with life. Our relationships with others and with life is characterized by strife as we desperately vie for control over the universe, mercilessly driven by the petrified fear that we will not get what we believe we need. We therefore lie, steal, attempt to intimidate, punish and manipulatively please others to get them to give us what we believe we need from them – unconcerned with their needs - because of what we believe that we lack within ourselves. But all we are really lacking while we are up to these childish games is spiritual adulthood.
When we finally give up our efforts at childish control and entrust our lives to the Cosmic Flow we experience the fulfillment we have been craving all of our lives. We achieve this as we raise ourselves above our childish nature of fearful attachment to having our way.
True spiritual adults are the only ones who are truly happy in life. Children and childish adults must always feel the underlying pain of shame (the shame of feeling not good enough), false dependency, neediness, vulnerability, helplessness and fear of the unknown.
Childish adults who appear to be successful to the world are still desperate to acquire their new toy or business triumph or trophy mate to prop up their false sense of status which is just a pho-overlay of an empty spirit as they lose their joy the moment a waiter is slow to take their order, or throw a temper tantrum when the maid hangs a shirt in the wrong place in the closet. The more they acquire the more they truly believe they need. What they really crave is the freedom and empowerment that belongs to the spiritual adult, fulfilled by his pure relationship with reality.
Western culture, of course, opposes our spiritual maturation with titanic, hypnotic force. We are constantly receiving hypnotic messages expressing the belief that:
1. We need what we want
2. Success means having what you want when you want it
3. We are failures, unworthy of love, and in real danger of to the extent that we do not have what we it.
We are thus continually barraged with the belief that we are unworthy of love without what we want and in real danger when we don’t have it. At the same time, as soon as we get what we want we believe we must have more.
To be an adult in the spiritual sense means to work free of this endless state of and belief in our dependency, until we are free to willingly flow with the Cosmic Flow, with the way life goes, trusting whole-heartedly in the love of truth. This freedom from resistance to life’s flow, and voluntary cooperation with the way things go, demonstrates the courage, wisdom, and understanding of a true adult.
The childish nature blames everyone else for what happens and makes everyone else responsible for fixing things. The spiritual adult takes one hundred percent responsibility for everything that happens, and I mean everything.
If there is something going wrong in my life, I look for how I am creating it. This involves an inner journey, directing my awareness within, until I see how all of my problems are imaginary. The childish adult is so lost in imagination that he cannot even consider the possibility that what he imagines to be real is really imaginary.
Spiritual childishness prevents most “adults” from accepting responsibility because childishness confuses responsibility with blame. Children blame. Blame is a condition of self-punishing criticalness that dis-empowers the blamer solving his own problems.
The spiritual adult does not go in for blame. To take responsibility without blame means accepting the power to correct the situation. No one is responsible for another person’s difficulties, though. If I am being held responsible for what is going wrong in another person’s life, how I deal with that person’s projection is up to me. I can feel badly about myself and accept the blame. Or I can trust in reality for both of us.
Here is a metaphor that can help you to understand and accept your responsibility. Imagine that you are living as a soul before coming into this life. In that heavenly, spiritual dimension you compose a story for your life to be. You create that story based on the infinite wisdom of your soul. As a soul you are a master story weaver that creates beautiful life-story of spiritual triumph.
After composing your life-story you then elicit the aid of everyone who will be part of it. You contact everyone at a soul level and tell each one the part you want him and her to play in your life. This includes the roles you give to animals. Some will be major figures in the story; others will be no more than extras, but all will serve the same basic purpose, which is to help you along the process of attaining spiritual adulthood in your life. Just as you might see an extra in a movie walking down the street in a particular outfit, with a particular facial expression, to serve a particular purpose in the scene, so is every passer-by in your life, including all of people and places in the world that you hear about but never directly encounter.
The most important actors in your story will be your parents. Perhaps your parents will be too young when you are born and put you up for adoption. Perhaps your parents will be in a stormy, antagonistic relationship. Perhaps they will be financially well off and seem to be happy until they suddenly divorce when you are thirty. You might be born to an alcoholic father and a mother who seems to live in a fantasy world, or to a set of parents that appear to be the pillar of the community while smoking, drinking, and cheating on one another. You might be born into a household with an abusive sibling, or into a family where a sibling dies in childhood, causing your parents to plunge into so much grief that they have no attention left for you.
Every single scene of your life and the behavior of every single person and animal and blade of grass in that scene is one hundred percent scripted by your story. Out of unconditional love for you at the soul level all of the players agree to play the roles you create for them, all designed for you to ultimately have your spiritually triumphant awakening.
The first phase of your story has you surrounded by childish adults who program into you the emotional, fear-based resistance patterns you are going to suffer with. In other words, your story has you spoiled in early childhood by the spoiled children who surround, injure and serve you.
You spend the second phase of your life, from the age of six years old, suffering from those fear-based patterns of resistance to the cosmic flow. During this phase you frightfully fight against life and other people when they keep or take something or someone from you that you want, believing that you have to have what you want to have when you want to have it. Your suffering goes on and on as you experience over and over again the futility of your efforts, as the universe seems to refuse to comply with your childish demands. This continues until you finally wake up to the possibility of another way. You are then ready to discover the path to spiritual adulthood as the source of fulfillment and safety that you have been looking for all along.
Many human beings go their entire lives without growing up spiritually. They die as children, sometimes as 80 or 90 year old children. They die fearing death, wanting to live on, wanting another ice cream cone, wanting to stay young and physically attractive, wanting to remain with their mate, with their children, with their mommy and daddy, fighting the cosmic flow to no avail, dying in tears.
We are told, however, that in the process of passing from the physical world the soul returns to its awareness of reality as love. The dying person then surrenders all control in utter trust of reality and in that moment experiences the joy of spiritual adulthood. This moment of release is the third phase of our spiritual growing up process.
We can go through the third phase without physically dying. The third phase takes place when we embark on the spiritual process of growing ourselves up. This is the phase when we dedicate ourselves to working free of our childish fear-resistance patterns, toward fully surrendering to the Cosmic Flow with absolute trust.
I have discovered a Method for achieving the goals of phase three. It consists of the following steps:
1. Recognize your emotional pain.
2. See it as the reaction of a child, your own childhood pattern, and feel compassionate understanding to let the child know you recognize the feeling, that you care, and that you are here to help.
3. Accept responsibility (not blame) for creating the situation that brings about the pain, trusting in the growth-benefits offered by the situation.
4. Recognize those same childish pain patterns in your parents and feel compassion for their suffering.
5. Feel grateful to the principle players involved in triggering the reaction (because going through those patterns helps you to eventually see the unreality that is their basis), especially the childish parents who demonstrated, programmed and reinforced those childish patterns in you originally.
6. Feel unconditional love for yourself (this is gives you the love you feared yourself to be unworthy of when you were not getting your way).
7. Feel the presence and power of the Divine within you (this helps to free you from the childish belief in your lack, limits and dependency).
8. Feel value for yourself (this gives you the sense of worthiness that your childish reaction of fear took from you).
9. Feel value for your gifts and talents (this deepens, expands, reinforces your sense of value – of being valued and loved by God, by truth, by reality).
10. Feel grateful to everyone in the entire world (including all of the “extras”) for playing the parts they played (This furthers the liberation of your spiritual adulthood).
11. Feel yourself in possession of the infinite abundance as your true condition in this perfectly safe and love reality.
12. Feel total surrender of control to the Cosmic Flow, to the Divine, to the Truth, trusting that reality is Love. As you experience this release, your adult self is born into oneness with the Divine. Your childish nature has been outgrown and your emotional suffering released.
This 12-step method, which I call The Method, works for me every time I use it, and it when I guide others through it I see it work for them, relieving them of their emotional suffering and freeing them to live in the joyous state of trust in themselves and in reality. However, going through it one time does not change us for all time. It releases us layer-by-layer of the childish programming that has been holding our spiritual adulthood captive.
Each time I go through The Method I feel safe, abundant, free, empowered, joyful and unconditionally loving. Soon, something occurs to trigger my fearful resistance again, and again I use The Method to gain release. Each time I go through this process the stability of my joyful freedom and sense of safety grows stronger, and my basic internal state of happiness expands further. I have come to believe that we have an infinite capacity for growth, and it is the purpose of existence to take the journey through eternity.
As effective as The Method is, though, one has to be willing to let go of his pain. Some are so attached to the pain and blame level that they are unwilling to take responsibility for how much they suffer. They insist on holding others responsible, despite the fact that this always keeps them in pain. They are stuck in a childish pattern until they have had enough.
If you have had enough you can learn how to free yourself from your suffering. There is a price, though. The price is developing your internal awareness to recognize when you are in pain, and then facing your pain by feeling it fully. This is the first and most crucial step of The Method for achieving spiritual adulthood.
In sum, the difference between the petulant child and the responsible adult, spiritually speaking, is simply this: The child is dragged by the cosmic flow, kicking and screaming in terror against it. The adult dives willingly into its current and swims with full strength toward its unknown destination, fully enjoying the ride, without the slightest trepidation. The child fears God’s misunderstanding, while the adult trusts in God’s perfect understanding and love. The child worries about what may be. The adult fully trusts in inevitability.