There is a famous quote that goes “the way that you do one thing, is the way that you do everything.”
I think that quote is a good way for me to start this post because it illustrates the idea that there is sometimes an underling commonality to many seemingly disparate aspects of our own life and behavior.
Reflecting back over my life and spiritual journey, I can pretty clearly see that one underlying commonality in myself tends to be a lack of grounding.
Interestingly, I think “ungroundedness” is related to self-delusion in the sense that being ungrounded tends to make the gulf between our ideas & aspirations about ourselves, and our actual lived reality, increasingly wide.
Therefore, I think the process of spiritual awakening that is espoused on the LP has to do with learning to be honest with ourselves, thus ‘bridging the gap’ between the facade of ourselves and our actual life.
I would like to give an example from my own life that I am dealing with now. Most of my professional career was involved with software development; I worked as a software engineer from my early twenties until my late thirties.
As my career progressed, eventually I found myself working for an engineering firm writing software to control specialized testing equipment that was being sold all over the world. Additionally, while working there, I ‘inherited’ a whole lot of projects and code from a more senior engineer who had recently quit.
The code written by the senior engineer was way “over my head” in the sense that it was very low-level and sophisticated, and demanded a level of educational background that I didn’t even remotely possess. However, I was bright in my own right, and managed to “cope with” the job of adapting the existing code to each subsequent project that I was given.
Additionally, the projects themselves took months or sometimes even years to unfold, so on a day-to-day basis, I didn’t have too much to do. Over the course of time, I found myself to mostly only pretending to work.
Even worse, as the complexity and novelty of the projects I was involved in over the years continued to increase, my own lack of foundational knowledge regarding the machines I was controlling caused increasing problems. Over the course of time, this caused me to become increasingly fraudulent and inauthentic in the work I was doing, and in retrospect, most of my energy was spent on maintaining the fascade of the ‘version’ of myself I was trying to portray to my employer and our customers. In short, I was pretending to be something that I was not.
Despite all these facts, my situation persisted (and became increasingly worse) over the course of many years. The reason it lasted so long was because despite all the drawbacks I mentioned above, I was still for the most part, managing to “pull off” the projects at hand, and the company I worked for was such that as long as they were getting paid, they just moved onto the next project. Additionally, I was also getting highly compensated, so I just muddled along.
However, my situation with work caused me considerable guilt, anxiety, and other negative emotions. (In retrospect, I think these types of feelings may be examples of Steering emotions
(Note: one thing I wanted to bring up, is that despite all the shortcomings and blunt self-critical honesty I used to paint the above picture of my career, there were of course some good things about it. I met a lot of amazing people, travelled to many interesting places world-wide, and definitely made positive contributions to many projects. However, overall, the reality of the picture I painted above was certainty true — even if I managed to keep continually push it out of own awareness at the time.)
As a final note, I would also like to comment on the schedule that I kept while I worked at the job I described above. I tended to work a “flexible” schedule, which in practice meant I never came into work before the afternoon. While this afforded me a lot of flexibility in life [to spend time in the mornings with my daughter when she was young, for example], it also caused a lot of other problems for me because during the times when I was depressed, I tended to just sleep all morning. This caused my entire lifestyle to be unstructured and undisciplined, and further eroded my own self respect.
Because my work situation was unsustainable, eventually it fell apart, and I was fired from my job. This was a very traumatic event for me.
During my time on unemployment, I grew increasingly unhealthy mentally. Largely this was because while I wasn’t working, what little semblance of a routine I’d had at my previous job became lost. My life began to become filled with various addictions, and at my worst, my days were filled mostly with watching television. Additionally, my behaviors were characterized by addiction, including such things as nicotine usage, prescription drugs abuse, excessive alcohol consumption, excessive sleeping, excessive sugar consumption, and pornography. All this both led to, and was caused by, the severe depressive episode I was immersed in.
In the interest of brevity, I will skip ahead a few months here. To start, let me mention another good quote: “Things are always darkest before the dawn.”
Unexpectedly, and despite all my hardships, one very positive thing happened: by an amazing series of coincidences, I met a woman during this time who would change my life. I met her in NYC while I was visiting there, and after a 6 month courtship, we eventually got married!
Soon thereafter, my unemployment money ran out, and I found myself without a job at all. However, things were starting to get better for me, and despite some chaotic initial experiences, my wife and I eventually managed to settle down together and begin to build a healthy lifestyle.
I had been married before in the past, and had experienced a very toxic and unhealthy relationship. However, my second marriage was completely different. For whatever reason, my wife and I brought out the best in each other, and I suddenly found myself ‘on the right path’ in life.
On the job front, I took the first job I could find, which was a manual labor type job only making 10 bucks and hour. By some miracle (and with financial help from my family), we managed to survive on my meager income until I found a slightly better manual labor type job, making 50% more, which I am still working.
During my tenor at this current job, my life has been completely different. I am working very hard for relatively little money, but I am forced into a life of discipline and structure that I’ve never had before. Even though my entire adult life was characterized by an inability to get up in the morning, I have managed for the past 4 months to be up every day at 6:30am to get to work. Additionally, the work I am doing is more physical in nature [not so ethereal as computer software], and causes me to ‘be present’ in my body. Further, it isn’t the kind of work you can ‘fake’. My days are long and difficult, but at the end of each one, I actually find myself feeling good and proud of myself for authentically earning my living for that day. After years of feeling bad about my work life, I now find myself doing something real, and feeling good about it.
Additionally, my various addictions seemed to just drop off the map as if by magic. A lot of this was because of my own efforts, but in retrospect, the whole thing had sort of a magical (effortless) quality to it. I think this had to do with the idea of coming into alignment; in an aligned state, our natural proclivity is to strive for health and healthy behaviors.
I also think that being in a loving, and mutually supportive relationship has been a big part of my recovery and healing process. The LP emphasizes the idea that authentic spirituality is dependent on need fulfillment, and the idea that we can’t fulfill all of our own needs. Therefore, relationships are very important, and maybe even a prerequisite for a healthy and fulfilling life.
As a final note, I have also settled into a sustainable diet that seems to be good for my body and mind that I have stuck to for the past four months, which is in essence a paleo-style [grain free] style of eating. Further, I have also completely abstained from literally all addictive-type substances, including even sugar and caffine — neither of which I am very proud of myself for being able to report, I have ingested for going on several months now.
So for sure I can say the my day-to-day routine, sleep architecture, and diet are the healthiest they have ever been, and my married life an entirely positive and uplifting experience.
Looking back, I have cycled through periods of extreme UPs followed by extreme DOWNs my entire life. This has persisted for so long, that by now I have mostly accepted my bipolar illness as an inevitable fact of life for me.
However, I am cautiously moving forward with an increasing optimism that perhaps authentic healing might in fact be possible. And for sure, it is my ambition to exemplify that healing. (I will consider myself healed from this disease when I am able to go an entire year without any episodes.)
Therefore, I am working to continue my healthy lifestyle, and of course I am continuing my engagement with the authentic spirituality of the lighting path.
Eventually, I would like to eventually return to software development in an authentic capacity. But in the meantime, I will continue my efforts to ground and therefore authentically become the healthiest version of myself that I can.
To me, that is what authentic spirituality is all about.