Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as spiritual progress. Like
anything else, as you practice, you get better at it in terms of observable changes to the mind. If you do the work, it happens at its own
pace. You can't rush it, but you needn't supervise it either.
that without integrating spiritual
insights into our daily lives, even the greatest of peak experiences is just a narcissistic thrill. We say true spirituality, and certainly
Jewish spirituality, is about being in the world. But I think we integrate too quickly, and use
this language to avoid making the changes that true spirituality would
demand of us.
you ask most people what makes them who they are, chances are you'll get an answer that has to do with the self, the personality
— perhaps even the "soul." Yet
if you look closely at the personality (or mind, or heart, or soul), you
discover that it isn't there.
This Saturday is the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, one of the few
Jewish festivals which many, many lapsed Jews still observe, if only
out of guilt. Some of my friends right here in the Evolver community
are in that crowd. Others have expressed an interest in participating
in the observance of the day somehow. For both, I’d like to offer some
thoughts on the benefits of fasting as a spiritual practice.
It's a not-so-dirty little secret that most of today's leading meditation teachers were interested in drugs. By "drugs," of course, I don't mean alcohol or Oxycontin, but rather that subset of chemicals which our society has deemed unfit for human consumption, including cannabis, psilocybin, MDMA, and others.
The mental constructions of ego and
desire have long been essential to our existence. And
yet, as the Buddha realized 2,500 years ago, these basic constructions cause a lot of pain. The needs most
fundamental to our biological makeup are also the ones which tend to cause the
most suffering. Is there another
Western religion can be so focused on God that it forgets the world, and it criticizes those who love it as "pagan," as too entranced by the world of appearances. But I like the world and its pleasures. I am convinced that God is dancing right now, and not to take Her up on it is a little bit offensive.