Spiritual Practice as an Escape?

by Januar
(Cambridge, MA)

It seems one can misuse spiritual practices (yoga, meditation, and other practices from Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.), as forms of escape rather than of an integrated transcendence. By using spiritual practice as a way to deny or 'run away' from one's own pain or suffering, and that of other's, it seems we do not truly transcend, because how can you fully transcend what you don't experience? I've seen this in myself and in others, from the personal (emotional, physical, ... sufferings) to the social (or "political", which can be a too easy categorization/distancing when recognizing something like the darkness in Gaza).

Yogi Mir's Answer:

Indeed, it may seem that certain people use spiritual practices to ‘hide behind’ problems rather than face them. This seems to be contradictory because the fruits of spiritual practices are heightened sense of awareness and compassion for all creatures, an expanded view of our human condition on Earth, and a clear view of the purpose of life.

However, it’s good to remember that “before they can expand, things have to contract.”

Any serious spiritual practice is a many-step journey. Often, we end up backtracking, circling, and getting lost. All of these “contradictory” steps are necessary to prepare for further growth. Without preparation, our individual soul (blown open with intense spiritual practice) will simply get burned by, or terrified at, the immensity of planetary problems.

Put another way, before one is ready, they will not see a situation like Gaza clearly and will not experience it without judgment. The ego will undoubtedly get in the way. The ego will color our perspective.

What must happen first, the individual practitioner must get immovably rooted in their sense of the True Self as the Universal Consciousness. Not as a concept, but as an experience.

After knowing who they really are, one is ready to ‘meet’ the world, and always know that nothing, absolutely nothing in existence, can shake them.

Once Mother Theresa was asked in an interview: “What is the most important part of your work?” The interviewer anticipated her answer being something to the effect of “Helping the poorest of the poor, taking the lepers and the children off the streets.” To his surprise, she answered: “The most important aspect of my work is undoubtedly the spiritual training of my sisters. Without it, they are mere social workers and they will burn out.”

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