Myths About Spirituality

Kathy Ryndak, Gord RiddellAs with many things on our planet, the field of spirituality has developed a number of myths that people are trying to actualize as absolute truths. Individuals are struggling with ideas and concepts in their lives that they cannot bring into being because they are myths and therefore unattainable. The problem is that people are left feeling inadequate or that they’re doing something wrong because they cannot make the myth come true.

Over time, the frustration of being unable to achieve certain things can turn us off and invariably we will walk away from anything we decide we are not accomplishing or will move to more extreme measures in order to make it happen.

Let’s look at a few of the predominant myths that may impede an individual’s growth.

Spiritual people are always happy and content

Spirituality, when combined with emotional healing, is a series of practices, attitudes, and beliefs that can and do help people experience their lives with greater energy and enjoyment. But it also urges us to go deeper into ourselves for greater understanding. It does provide new and different skills and coping mechanisms that we may not have previously had to deal with in life. A key reality is that life at various times can be and often is difficult. These difficulties teach us about ourselves and each other. Painful things will happen – we will have losses, sickness and death will occur, and change is inevitable. Spirit­uality gives us tools on many levels, not just to pilot our way through these things, but also to learn from them. We will not always be happy and content every day, at every hour; it is not part of the human spiritual and emotional journey.

Spiritual people don’t get sick

Actually people on a spiritual path can get very ill and even die. We need to get past this idea that illness and death are somehow failures and wellness is the only option that proves how spiritual we are. Many spiritual people will in fact get very seriously ill as a way to learn and discover many things. Illness, disease, and the death and dying process are all powerful learning tools. It teaches not only the individual going through it, but also those in contact with that person. Many people with serious conditions, such as cancer and AIDS, have said that if it were not for their illness they may never have discovered the many possibilities life can hold. We equate healing with being healthy; they are not the same. Profound levels of healing occur in the death and dying process. We need to understand that death is also an option in the healing process. Whether you are the healer or one seeking healing, you need to know there are many lessons to learn on the spiritual journey and that no matter the outcome, none are a failure.

Spiritual people must live in some form of poverty

This myth is probably derived from the Christian parable that basically says it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter heaven. This concept, while altered somewhat, has become part of the spiritual idea that hurts many people in their ability to be successful. Their beliefs about money severely limit their possibilities.

Abundance and prosperity are key ideas in spirituality and can often cause a lot of confusion for people. Money must be seen as nothing more than energy. It is a socially agreed upon form of energy exchange. All energy from the spiritual to the physical is part of the human experience. It is our attitude and how we use it that is important. Prosperity and abundance are there for the taking, just like it is in all of nature. It is perhaps the human behaviours of greed and hoarding that reinforce the poverty myth and continue to fuel scarcity thinking of never enough. Being in the flow allows all energy including money to be part of our life.

To be spiritual, I have to be perfect

This myth of perfection, perhaps more than any other, is likely rooted in our Christian societies’ admonishment to be perfect, as God in heaven is perfect. This one small phrase robs people of many opportunities and re-enforces inadequacies. Humans are not supposed to be perfect. Our souls have chosen to be here in the physical world because of the challenges and possibilities provided for our growth by being human. Perfection is a state of stasis; in other words, there is no further growth occurring. Everything we know from spirituality or from science indicate that all things are in a state of flux and growth, including the universe. Humans are a part of the natural world and not set apart from it except in our own mind and mythology. Let nature be your guide as to what is possible and not possible. No one would stand before a tree or flower and proclaim it is not perfect, it just is and it is exactly how it is supposed to be. Let’s apply that to ourselves. We are just as we are supposed to be, growing and changing each day and year.

Spiritual people never feel empty or lonely

The feelings of emptiness and loneliness that we can feel are so much a part of the human condition and they are often the very catalyst that opens the door to our own awareness.  Humans are by nature very social beings. At various times we need people around us, some people more so than others, but the key here is we need each other. Our interactions are instrumental in our learning process. While some insight may be gained alone in the woods, it’s the challenges of our interpersonal relationships that provide the most learning about ourselves. We are designed to be with and learn from each other. This encompasses all forms of relationships, not just intimate, sexual ones. While spirituality helps move us to embrace the divine within and to develop spiritual practices that consistently reinforce that connection, we still need to have others in the human form to connect with. Loneliness and emptiness will always be with us at various phases of our life. Spiritual practices do help to fill the void.

Spiritual people must be able to meet their own needs

An extension in some ways of never feeling lonely or empty is the notion that we have to meet all of our needs ourselves. What we want to learn is how to have our needs met in a healthy way and without demanding that others do so. If we are trying to meet all our needs by ourselves, is it any wonder we may feel empty and lonely? No one person in our life, like a spouse, can possibly meet every single need we may have, nor should they have to. People demanding to have their needs met can turn others away. We want to have lots of different people from all walks of life to share with us our different needs and interests. As humans we all have needs, from the most basic of food and shelter to the most esoteric. They are what fuel our growth and journey.

Going Forward

One good exercise is to find which myths you may have been holding as true and find others that may be holding you back. One way to know if you are chasing a myth is to identify things in your own process that you just can’t seem to ‘get’. Ideas you keep struggling with over and over again and they are not clicking. As humans we all have myths that we believe to be true about ourselves. Over time the veil lifts and we see more of who we really are. Perhaps taking a look at your own personal myths may help to move you forward. We cannot ‘get’ a myth; we can only ‘get’ what is true. The pursuit of a myth is both frustrating and harmful.
Spirituality is intended to simplify our lives through beliefs, attitudes, and practices which enhance the human experience while embracing the divine connection. We make it much too difficult. It is not how long you lived but how you lived your time here on the planet. Keep it simple and remember the basics!

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