I have had an understanding come through to me over the past few weeks. This is an understanding that I have certainly come across before, but I know that when a phrase is repeating to me (over and over again, which gets annoying, as it is like a teacher trying to teach you something that you seemingly don’t get, or don’t get fully yet) that I need to pay attention at another level than I had been.
The teaching is that the authentic spiritual path is always one of radical responsibility.
What does this mean? In an earlier blog, I talked about two paths that one can take when interested in spirituality: one of further illusion and obscuration, and one of truth, even if it is at times uncomfortable or painful truth (you can read this blog here)
Of course things are not so black and white, and the complexity of being on both, or thinking you are on one and then actually being on the other, come into play.
What I will say is that illusory spiritual paths take you away from yourself. They take you away from your body, from your life. This is a good meter stick, by the way; if you are participating in something that takes you away from embodiment or teaches you that you need to be someone other than who you are, chances are that it is a false path.
The difficulty with this is that a lot of people want the illusions. The idea that the our greatest fears can be simply explained by some guru, or that there are singularly “compassionate” and “non-compassionate” spirits, or that we can run away from our lives for a weekend and be someone else is immensely appealing.
Life is difficult. It is tumultuous, and we believe things to be true, we create things to be true, that either help us to escape this realization, or seek to numb or comfort our brains who when faced with complexity and uncertainty. Our brains like to hear about simplicity, and spiritual experiences and realities are often anything but simple. This is how we have so much material on what happens after death definitively, or what the cosmos are like definitively, or even the silliness of people channeling “Hitler” and saying how he came here to somehow teach others (sigh. this is a real thing. You don’t need to look it up, though, trust me) in a way to believe that the world is really full of the rainbows and unicorns that people love to dream about.
Truth on the other hand is uncomfortable. It is a lot of times one thing and the complete opposite at the same time. It is also often complex, and we cannot fully grasp it. This is especially true on a spiritual path, where the concept of linearity, or the concept of story, gets sort of thrown out the window (unless we create a story on top of spiritual experiences, which we tend to do).
But let’s get back to responsibility– radical responsibility at that.
At this point in my career I have seen and heard a lot of things. I have also, doing this work, interacted with a lot of people who have lost complete footing in any sort of grounding in reality. There are a lot of people drawn to spiritual work who are extremely mentally unwell because they can find others to feed or participate in their delusions. If you believe that space aliens are coming here to eat your brains, you will be able to find a community of people nowadays online who believe the same thing.
Those of us who do have at least a tetherhold on reality (to a firm grasp of it, and including even the most grounded and embodied of us) will still create illusions, but there will be at least some footing in collective reality, and some capacity to change.
I have noticed for a long time that people who contact me blaming whatever activities they are doing, meditations they have done, “evil” spirits, curses, their parents, another lifetime (you get my drift here) rarely are willing to see their part in things.
Before someone gets into: “well, you are a spiritual worker who deals with the external”, I will say that most people who believe that they are cursed are not. Most people who believe that there are evil or negative spirits against them are not experiencing them. A spiritual worker is really someone who believes in the external, and works with it, but most spiritual workers worth their salt know that a lot of people are dealing with psychological and mental forces that have created a reality of pain for them based off of inner wounding.
Before someone also gets into: “well, I was traumatized as an infant and it was my parents fault and I have no blame” sort of thinking, I will explain that part. We have all sorts of examples in our lives of times where we were under the power of another, and it failed. For some of us this is a large failing, and there are scars and brokenness and beliefs and so forth that were created as a result of that trauma.
But as an adult, someone can take responsibility for their healing from that trauma, and get their power back. I have worked with many people who have survived all sorts of horrors that have been visited on them: war, incest, electrocution, neglect, slavery (yes, in this lifetime), natural disasters, and the abuses and traumas that this world and the people in it create daily.
I have been doing healing work for a long time now, and I understand that a lot of people are not in the place to do so. I also have been a healer for long enough to know that some people are too broken to do so, and perhaps in their next lifetime they will be able to take some steps forward in their healing process.
I also am not victim blaming here. There are all sorts of things, spiritual and otherwise, that happen to us in our lives here. Devastating things. Illness. Unhappiness. The general chaos and uncertainty and tumultuousness that happens while we are here to all of us invariably at different times.
And many of us try to hide from it. We create entire worlds in our heads to explain and create our way away from these things. We construct beliefs and realities based off of our wounds, and oddly, they are often our protections.
But it is an interesting thing… I get a lot of people who tell me that a meditation, or a (insert reconstructionist pagan thing here), spiritual practices, or even things like occult practices, witchcraft, and so forth have caused for them to be unwell.
This person rarely realizes that it wasn’t the practice. It was the person.
It can be hard to reconcile that there are likely thousands, if not hundreds of thousands (depending on the practice, of course) of people currently engaged in similar spiritual/occult/magical/shamanic things who do not experience the same results.
The spiritual path is one of destabilization. This means that what any spiritual path does (any authentic one) is to remove the layers and layers of obscuring illusory reality.
The thing is– if you are already unstable, this process will send someone into the “incredibly unstable” category. It is very, very rarely a result of the practice. It is a result of the person not ready for the practice, not ready for the results of the practice. It is often nowadays (with so many books out there on advanced practices) a result of someone not learning the basics before moving onto advanced material.
The same is true for reiki, shamanic practices, and so forth. It is also true for all sorts of beliefs and understandings. People hold onto the people who have done harm to them, to the events that have caused them harm. This may be because of wounded inner children, it may be because of overwhelm, it may be because the person hasn’t found the appropriate healer to navigate them through. Sometimes it is because the person really wants revenge, or is holding on to this wounded part of themselves in order to preserve a story, a narrative that is informing their world view (often with incredibly negative consequences in outer/physical reality).
If the person let go of such things, their world would change. Not only their beliefs, but their outer world as well. And our minds preserve us from change, from taking responsibility. In our own misguided way we protect these wounded parts of ourselves and their beliefs that are causing such constriction and blockage in our outer reality.
The less well we are (mentally primarily, but also emotionally, physically, spiritually) the less we are willing to take responsibility for our role in things. If we are incredibly unwell, there will be a tendency for the person to create a myth of being a lone person in a sea of monsters or demons or negative forces out to get them. This preserves a separation instinct (one vs. the multitude) and is often a part of early childhood trauma, where the infant is learning to trust and finds that they cannot trust their caregivers, or that it would be dangerous to do so.
This creates a legacy of feeling as if the world is against them, and they will recreate again and again ways in which that this is true, and their outer reality will be created based off of this instinct.
So in terms of trauma, we may not hold any responsibility in terms of the original instant. If we were an abused or neglected infant, we literally cannot take responsibility there. But we can take responsibility for healing that infant, for being an adult who can move beyond those beliefs and traumas. The person who decides to do so, and who reaches out to others who know the ways in which to do so, will move beyond their illusions into better health and stability, with a firmer foot in collective reality.
I will say a short note (just to confuse, and to prove that the opposite of truth is often also true) that sometimes there are practices that are destabilizing. That is their intent. We are either in a place to be ready for that destabilization, or for change to happen in our lives due to whatever we are doing… or we are not. If we are not, it can get difficult for us. But we can realize that it was us that was not ready.
I will also say that there are a variety of stupid and shitty practices out there. Things that can get you in trouble. Most people will not find these things, but as I regularly get people who think that it was a good idea to contact things like goetic demons without knowing how to banish first… or who think it would be fun to try “x” in terms of witchcraft or spiritual contact and find out that it is less than fun… or shamanic practitioners who don’t believe that spirits are real and then find out they very much are, or don’t know how to adequately protect or cleanse themselves or deal with things when they do run into something that is powerful/scary/etc, I will say that sometimes shit just happens, and while it is often a learning experience, it is also a question of if we take responsibility for the fact that we went into something that we weren’t ready for the ramifications of.
Every single magician I have met, for example, has had something happen that has incredibly freaked them out. It happens.
But there is also a question of timing here, and of power. Meaning that if you have never done any sort of magical work, and are suddenly calling on Hekate, chances are she will laugh at you and nothing will happen. If you are a “shamanic practitioner” who learned how to do soul retrieval in a weekend workshop, and have only done a few of them, they are only going to be so effective and quite frankly, there is a limited amount of trouble that you will generally get into.
So I will share a personal story about this. I have shared before that my kundalini awakening was precipitated by me doing a bunch of stupid stuff all at once. I got a bunch of reiki attunements all in a row, and although I had been meditating off and on for about five years at that point, I found Mantak Chia’s microcosmic orbit. I started practicing this. A lot. And my kundalini erupted.
For a long time I blamed the reiki, I blamed Mantak Chia, I blamed qigong and meditation and anything I could blame, I did. I eventually realized that I was trying to go from step three to step ten in my practices, and I was experiencing fallout. I later realized that my kundalini was going to awaken anyway, and that there was reasoning why I felt so compelled to do things like get five reiki attunements in a month.
I will share one more story: When I was in my mid-twenties I tried to do the “Abramelin operation”. It is a ritual that is intended to last about six months (although people have tried to compress it). I naturally thought that I could do it in a much shorter timeframe, and without some of the materials needed.
What happened is that I started to feel insane– I had so much stuff going on around me (and coming from me, that is saying something), and I luckily realized that I wasn’t ready and stopped the operation. I did it again a few years ago and was able to complete it. This time it still had a huge destabilizing effect, but I was ready for it, didn’t cut any corners, and was (well somewhat) ready for its effects.
My point here is that whatever is going on in your life, see if you can take responsibility for it. We tend to externalize what we do not wish to reconcile internally. We tend to blame externally what we do not wish to take personal responsibility for. When we are willing and have the stability to do so, taking responsibility for everything that happens for us is a path that we should all aspire to. Being willing to question and take stock of our part of things, and to question our reality to the extent that it can change and shift to a different reality is part of the spiritual path. And we can either get stuck in illusion, we can get stuck in the constricted reality we have created for ourselves…or we can move forward through taking responsibility for our thoughts, actions, beliefs, and even our very reality. We can use our outer reality as a signpost of what is going on internally, and reconcile that… and our outer reality will change.