Releasing the Spiritual Superego

Eagle flying over misty mountains

By Stephan Bodian, author of Beyond Mindfulness—available now!

As a psychotherapist as well as a spiritual teacher, I’ve had the privilege of sharing in the inner lives of hundreds of meditators and seekers—and what I’ve discovered, not surprisingly, is that we can be incredibly hard on ourselves, even in the seemingly beneficent pursuit of spiritual awakening. Most of us grow up with some version of the belief “I’m not good enough” and spend the rest of our lives attempting to prove ourselves worthy—in our work, our families, our relationships—while judging ourselves harshly if we don’t live up to some predetermined standard.

When we engage in spiritual study and practice, even if we’re counseled to be especially kind to ourselves, we tend to transpose the same perfectionism to our meditation, our contemplation, our self-inquiry. Nothing we do is ever good enough—we exert too much effort, we have too many concepts, our understanding never quite measures up. In fact, spiritual seekers can be even more self-critical than most, because we have the most exalted examples to compare ourselves to—the Buddha, Jesus, the great Zen masters, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj. We forget that awakening to our essential nature has nothing to do with perfection and everything to do with embracing life, including ourselves, just as it is. And we make the classic mistake of “comparing our inner to other people’s outer”—that is, comparing the public image that others project with the excruciating imperfection we constantly encounter in our own minds and hearts—and finding ourselves deficient. With so many different exemplars out there, we can become endlessly preoccupied with trying to imitate one and then the other, even though they express the truth in disparate ways, and end up losing sight of our own authenticity.

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, one of my first teachers, once said, “We’re constantly losing our balance against a background of perfect balance.” As human beings, we’re imperfect creatures who stumble our way through life, doing our best and learning as we go—or not. But our essential nature—consciousness, timeless presence, the eternal ground of being, the One without a second—is inherently perfect, pure, and indestructible. None of our mistakes ever touches who we really are, and realizing this inherent perfection and embracing the non-dual paradox that we are both imperfect and perfect—or even more deeply, beyond any such dualities—provides the ultimate resolution to our endless self-criticism. In the words of Ramana, “Just rest as the Self and be as you are.”

<i>Beyond Mindfulness</i> coverStephan Bodian is the author of Beyond Mindfulness: The Direct Approach to Lasting Peace, Happiness, and Love, published by New Harbinger Publications. Copyright 2017.

Spirituality and Self-Worth

By Amoda Maa Jeevan, author of Embodied Enlightenment

A surprising number of people, especially in today’s materially oriented world, experience a lack of self-worth.

There’s a common belief, even in spiritual circles, that not having enough money is a sign of unworthiness. This usually translates into “I am unable to receive,” “I don’t love myself,” or “I’m not good enough.” What often follows is an attempt to improve self-worth in order to attract more money in order to feel abundant, and therefore to believe yourself to be worthy. Sometimes this works (at least for a while), but mostly it does not.

The acquisition of psychological and spiritual tools for fixing yourself and getting what you want in order to feel better about yourself is a huge error of attention. By giving allegiance to the story of “me” and “my life,” the ping-pong of feeling worthy and feeling unworthy is prolonged. It’s a perpetuation of the seeking mechanism, and there is no fulfillment in this.

True fulfillment comes only when you awaken out of the dream of separation. When you fulfill your inner purpose of awakening to your true nature as the unboundedness of being, the polarity of worthiness and unworthiness collapses into the totality of now. You do not need to feel abundant, because abundance is here as the fullness of this moment. There is no one to judge you as worthy or unworthy. It was only ever yourself judging yourself. When you awaken out of the dream of separation, this is seen to be ludicrous (and a waste of time)!

When you stop right here and rest deeply in the softness of your belly, in the gentle throb of your heartbeat, in the pregnant pause between each breath, in the alive awakeness of now, you may well discover that this moment is rich beyond measure, and that there is no limit to abundance.

Embodied EnlightenmentAmoda Maa Jeevan is the author of Embodied Enlightenment: Living Your Awakening in Every Moment, published by New Harbinger Publications. Copyright 2017.

I Come to Call You Home by Mooji

I come to call you home. Those who have a place for my words or my voice inside their heart, you already know or you will soon come to this place. You will discover its completeness, its joy and its fullness. I have come to call you away from suffering, from fear, from a life of sorrow, into your own divine Being. I have not come to give you any stories so as to excite your imagination or to sign you up for some long course or to call you into some membership. I have come to show you the unchanging and ever-present Truth and to remind you that you are already That, you are not separate, that the sense of separation from God, from Truth, is mere imagination believed into existence. This is how suffering is born. Know it is possible to wake up out of this long dream.

There is no one person on this planet who is apart from the Truth in their heart. The world is so diverse and extreme in its expressions; the greatest good and the greatest evil is here, and in this diverse forest of existence, you must find your way home. Many voices come to call us. I take it we are here together because of the power of God, the power of love and the power of Truth acting upon our hearts. I have not come to call you halfway home, but to call you fully home. I love to watch the beings awakening from the hypnosis of conditioning, from the fear of both death and life, by recognising their true nature.

Heaven is inside your own heart.

Take courage. Being free is neither difficult nor distant. I know it has often been conceived, perceived and presented to be rare, remote and difficult, but all that is delusion—a great seeming. I don’t know why awakening happens in one heart so completely and in another there is some delay or postponement. I am not deeply concerned about this. But I know that the voice that calls you is true, and where you are being called to is real and true. Heaven is inside your own heart. This is why I am here.

I don’t delight in the imaginary. I need nothing from your past. This is not how I know you. I don’t know you through your story. I know you through your heart—through your own divine Being. It is all that really corresponds with me, and it is my true connection with you—not a connection formed through ideology or philosophy, but a connection with the living power of God. It is this that I respond to, and it is only this that I know. I can only remind you; I can only point to that. The rest must somehow come from you in response to my pointing in order to complete this yoga of true understanding.

Sometimes, a feeling of tiredness, lethargy and resistance comes, and I want you to be aware of that. Do not fight with that, but rather keep your attention in the place that I have been pointing to—the silence of being.

It is not I who makes satsang successful at raising the beings from the sleep of ignorance of the Self to the bright joy of awakening; it is us together—you bringing forward your own truthfulness, your own deep yearning and your thirst for righteousness. It is this that causes everything to come alive, to sparkle with new possibilities. In my view, there is nothing higher in the human kingdom than discovering our divine nature. As everything else is perishable, find that which is imperishable, and fall completely in love with That.

Don’t go to sleep until the night of ignorance disappears forever. Remember, the light, peace and presence of the Lord shines inside your heart eternally.

White Fire Book CoverThis is an excerpt from White Fire: Spiritual Insights and Teachings of Advaita Zen Master Mooji, published by New Harbinger Publications. Copyright 2017.