Nothing in our
Spiritual Life is Personal

by Jef Bartow


If you’ve seen the trend so far, our principled-centered spirituality is not meant to be a rehash of much of the present day spiritual/self-help literature available at your bookstore. Frankly, it's for those who know it's time to truly get on with spiritual growth, not just talk about it while continuing to live a human life. Our fifth principal here is no exception. The foundation of this principle is simply becoming fully self-responsible for both your life and growth.

Let's begin with a commonly conditioned belief that there is good and evil in life; that good is about helping God's purpose and evil is in opposition to God's purpose. This translates into our same experience of good and evil, in that we are made in God's image. Unfortunately since there is no personal God, we must take a whole new approach to good and evil. Simply, both good and evil are parts of God.

Spiritually transforming our Personality is about deciding what is good, virtuous and righteous as opposed to the rest of our makeup; then transforming all those other parts into something good and virtuous. From this perspective, evil becomes the definition given in metaphysics as: evil is that which should be controlled or subdued, but is allowed to act. Therefore, evil is everything that is not to become a part of our spiritual nature. Also, although there are many evils which are common to mankind, we each have our individual evils to overcome. And finally, what is evil today may certainly not have been evil in the past.

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In general, all of our instinctual nature and past experiences can be considered a part of the evil we must subdue or control. In fact, much of our past that we consider good, will eventually become a part of the evil we must transform. As you'll find in Eastern mysticism and metaphysics, we must transmute our good karma as well as our bad karma.

The real point to be made here is that God exists in so much diversity and potential that we need to take a different approach to many experiences in our life and those around us. There is nothing personal about good and evil, our good experiences and bad experiences are all part of our learning process. Unfortunately, growth for most humans comes through pain and suffering. Therefore, Spirit brings us pain-and-suffering on purpose. We need to see through the pain-and-suffering to get to our own evil that we must subdue and control. Until we do, evil will continue to invade our life.

If nothing in Spirit is personal, this means we need to move from being a personal self to a non-personal spiritual Being. Becoming this spiritual Being is about leaving our person-ness behind. Living this spiritual principle involves a variety of new orientations. And implementing this spiritual principle is about taking definite steps in each of the following areas.

Our first transformation is moving from self orientation to other orientation. Most who feel they are becoming “spiritual” would say they are other oriented. There's a major difference between doing things for others and becoming other oriented. If you dissect other oriented behavior in most humans, it is based at some level of on selfishness. Our personal self has something to gain by doing things for others.
It can be as simple as love expected for love given. It can be about creating “credit” that can be utilized in the future when necessary. A big one to overcome is about giving to others in need in order to help overcome the same issue within ourselves. We want to help heal others as a way to heal ourself. At a very subtle level, it is our giving to others in order to validate ourself as a good person. We give to others as a way to confirm our self esteem and virtuousness.

Nothing in this is about stopping our giving because it's not completely selfless. It's about self-evaluation and digging into the depths to root out (i.e. transform) the personal part in it for us. How do we do that, you ask? Using mindfulness and self-reflection while giving to others is a great way to begin. Secondly, giving to others of those who we do not feel deserve it is a great contrarian behavior that will uncover our self orientation.

Our second transformation is from attachment to detachment. This of course includes our self indulgences, vices and easily identifiable self-interest. Unfortunately, this is just becoming a better human. Spiritual transformation includes releasing our dependencies and co-dependencies with our loved ones, our friends and all of our family members. Beyond this, it involves letting go of those things, people and ways of living that provide our sacred security in life. As long as we hold onto these, we will never truly embrace our source of Spirit’s security. And remember, it's the attachment and reliance we’re trying to get at, not just change for change sake.

A good way to move from attachment to detachment is by replacing desire with volition. Human desire is about getting what one wants and avoiding what one determines is non-pleasurable. A higher level of desire is volition, creating and implementing the will to do what is necessary for spiritual growth. Our last article on Will says about all that needs to be said here.

Thirdly, our new orientation to good and evil described above involves a specific change that many have difficulty with. This one may seem very cold and impersonal, but lovingly implemented is in true alignment with Spirit. This change is moving from a victim orientation to what are the lessons to be learned. Since evil is a part of God, then the evil that comes to us is meant to teach us something about ourselves. Another way to say this is: it's not the cards you're dealt in life that's important, but how you play the hand that matters.

Every time we’re the victim of a unscrupulous business person, an envious or vindictive friend, a selfish loved one or a random act of lawbreaking, etc. can be viewed as a lesson to be learned. The lesson is about what in us brought this to us and for what purpose. What do we see in the other person that is a part of ourself. And how can we "turn the other cheek" to transform this part of ourself.

Our fourth transformation is a subtle one. It is moving from a me and mine attitude to all is God's. By the Grace of God, we are all either directly given, or given the potential to develop various abilities, talents, resources and successes in life. This is how God is in a constant state of creativity. But it is God's creativity, not ours. We are such a small infinitesimal, less than cell part of God, that nothing we can accomplish is not of God. Honoring that reality and living with the utmost gratitude for Spirit is one of our ways of becoming a co-creator with God.

This does not mean we should lose our sense of identity or self-esteem in the process. The way I see it is that we become truly inter-independent with God in his creative process. Praising the true source of our successes becomes our conscious way of allowing God to pour more into us and through us for the benefit of all.

If you haven't thought of it or felt it yet, there will come a time when you will ask yourself this: is it really worth this entire transformation when so many other humans seem to be both successful and happy in life without it? The answer that I have found is that these transformations which remove our personal-ness in life are how we gain a sense of purpose and destiny in life. This major step in growth is how we get off the treadmill of re-embodiment. And frankly, living our purpose in this life will be our only true success. All the rest is irrelevant in the bigger spiritual picture.