We have a lot of rules in our society. We have laws, codes of conduct, rules of engagement, and guidelines on what’s acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Some of these rules are necessary, in order to ensure basic survival and a reasonably peaceful existence in our current vibrational environment (like laws against murder, for example). However, I’m talking about the should’s and should not’s of our society, which “govern” just about every behavior or circumstance we could get into. Most of us have grown up in an environment where rules were the norm. We feel comfortable being told what to do and how to do it, and we feel incredibly awkward when we don’t know what the rules are.
If you’ve never dined in a five star restaurant, for example, you might feel embarrassed if you don’t know which fork to use. You may not even know why it’s so damn important to use the correct fork, but you don’t want to be caught using the wrong one. We want to dress appropriately, say the right things, do everything we can to make sure we don’t stand out in a negative way. One of our biggest fears is that we might be doing it wrong. “Just tell me what to do” is the theme, and so, we have no shortage of guides on how to behave in every situation from going on a first date, to chairing a business meeting.
This is no different in the spiritual growth arena. Those searching for enlightenment love to come up with lists of what you should or shouldn’t do, the right and wrong way to do this and that, the right way to behave and think and feel. This might seem hypocritical, coming from a spiritual blogger – much of what I do is to give advice. But one of my biggest goals has been to do so without passing judgment. I try to avoid the words should and shouldn’t, and aim always to point (not push) the individual toward listening to their own inner being. I try to ask questions, present different points of view, and do my best to leave the ultimate conclusion up to the reader (you can tell me if I’m succeeding or not…)
Spiritual people (and for the sake of this article, I’m going to use that phrase to refer to those who are actively seeking enlightenment) love to judge one another, just like everybody else. And over time, we’ve constructed numerous rules of how enlightened people ought to think and behave. I’ve dug up 3 of these and will do my best to make a case for why you can safely ignore them.
1. Spiritual People always have to be happy. Variation: Spiritual people can never have any negative emotions. This would imply that some of our emotions are “bad” while others are ok. But our emotions, all of them, are useful tools which indicate to us how what we’re thinking in that moment is serving us. A “negative” emotion isn’t bad for us, no more than the feeling of being hungry is bad for you.
Hunger is your body’s signal that it needs nutrition. If you ignore the hunger signal, eventually you’re going to starve. So the feeling of hunger is actually very useful – it lets you know when something’s out of balance so you can fix it. Emotion is the same way. The feeling of anger is just a signal that something in your thoughts is out of whack, so that you can address it. As your core vibration rises, the kinds of thoughts that trigger anger or depression will rise as well. It’s all relative. So, a person with a lower core vibration might feel little difference while thinking “I’m a failure”, because most of their thoughts are right around that level, while a person with a high vibration might get quite angry while thinking “I’m not as successful as I could be”, even though the second thought isn’t nearly as negative as the first.
To me, the goal is not to become an emotionless drone. Success (in becoming enlightened) isn’t measured in NOT feeling the emotions anymore, but rather in continuously raising our vibration. Our emotions will continue to guide us to ferreting out the relatively lower frequencies, so we can continue to move even higher. We will always encounter different frequencies (if we stopped doing that, we would stop having experiences, and would die of boredom). As we interact with them, our emotions will let us know which ones we want to continue to play with and which ones we want to let go.
2. Spiritual People have to meditate, visualize, etc. every day. Variation: It takes discipline to become enlightened. This little gem comes to us from the deeply ingrained and widespread belief that without pain, there can be no gain. We can’t get ahead without working hard for it, i.e. suffering. I’m not saying that it doesn’t sometimes take huge amounts of effort to accomplish something, but inspired effort doesn’t feel like “work”. It’s fun, passionate and easy. It’s the kind of activity you can lose yourself in for hours without realizing how much time has passed. So, we love to come up with checklists of things we MUST DO every day. Meditate daily? Check. Do Yoga every morning? Check. Spend 20 minutes with the Vision board? Check. And then, if something comes up and people have to miss a session, they get stressed out.
I get questions all the time about how often to meditate, for how long, how specifically to do this or that, and I always explain that while a regular routine can certainly be helpful, it’ll only be really beneficial as long as it makes you feel good. The second you feel an obligation, or feel stress about doing it the right way, you’re not really gaining anything. In my view, spiritual people should meditate or do anything else, for that matter, precisely as often as they want to.
3. Spiritual people should never engage in certain activities like watching TV, gambling, drinking, eating meat, smoking, etc. I’m going to word this very carefully, because I know that I could be seen as contradicting myself, so I want to really explain what I mean. I personally don’t watch TV. I plan to do a whole blog post on just this subject (it’s on the list). But the reason I don’t watch TV is not because watching TV is inherently evil, but because for me, personally, it’s very difficult to hold the vibration I want to hold while watching TV. So, while I would advise someone who is trying to raise their vibration to try staying away from television for a while, to see how that feels, it isn’t the TV that’s causing any harm – it’s the fact that we allow it to affect us. And everyone is affected differently by different things.
I changed to an almost completely raw diet at the beginning of this year. I do think that this change was a result of my spiritual path and I also believe that the switch has allowed me to rise even further. But that’s because of the way I feel about raw food. I would never state unequivocally that to become enlightened, one must go raw. The same thing with alcohol, gambling, smoking and any other activity we might consider damaging or low on the vibrational scale. I haven’t been able to handle large quantities of alcohol for years. I do occasionally have a glass of wine with dinner (wine is raw) because I really enjoy it and at that quantity there are no negative consequences for me. But I have friends who are incredibly happy who can handle huge quantities of booze. Interestingly, they don’t pay much of a price for that consumption either (whereas I do). They have a different relationship to alcohol than I do, and it affects them very differently.
Whenever I hear someone ask “How can you be spiritual and do that (insert whatever)?”, I remind myself that no one can really know how an activity will affect another person. It might lift them up and it might drag them down. The key is how they feel about it. If, for example, you smoke, but you think that you really should quit, then you obviously don’t have a good relationship to smoking. You’ll either want to change your belief, so you can smoke happily, or quit. The goal is not to condemn the activity, but to eliminate the conflict – in this case, smoking while feeling really badly about it. The point I’m making here is enormous and multifaceted, and if you’d like to read more, I invite you to check out a case study I published: Is Your Job or Life Choice Spiritual Enough?, which delves much deeper into this issue. Don’t forget to read the discussion in the comments, as well. It really serves to highlight the point further.
Just like everyone else, I’m guilty of constructing my own, personal set of guidelines on how “spiritual” people ought to act. When I see someone who’s had a major insight being a bit condescending towards another spiritual seeker for not “getting it yet”, I often think “If he were more enlightened he wouldn’t judge the other guy.” Then, I immediately catch myself and think “If I were more enlightened, I wouldn’t judge him for judging.”
We all have our own personal code of conduct. The key is to become aware of it and question if it’s still serving us. A lot of the rules we live by do nothing but limit our thoughts and behaviors. To me, moving toward enlightenment means letting go of limitations; finding my own way in each moment and figuring out where my authentic path lies.
What “rules” do you live by that may no longer be serving you? Share your experience in the comments and let everyone benefit.
Great post!!!! I am on a mission at the moment of rediscovering
freedom, it brings out all sorts of feelings and emotions I would
never expect and it surprises me so much. The way I react now
to experiences is completely different. Things which “should” upset me
according to other people opinion, just don’t upset me, I choose to feel different,
I just choose to feel good and whatever comes is just another step closer to
my goal, an opportunity to get there. Sometimes I feel so detached completely care free, so calm and quiet. In my freedom I react the way I feel, the way I choose to and it is fun!!!!
Lots of love 🙂
Wow Anya! It sounds like you’re doing really well! Congratulations!
You’re becoming more and more authentic. Isn’t it a wonderful feeling (even if it is a bit scary at times…)?
Keep up the great “work”!
Hey Melody! (in Alabama, people say hey instead of hi – heehee)
If Justin is late in commenting, I’m ancient. Still browsing and enjoying every new-to-me post. Thank you for your consistent high quality! (vibration of your vibration?)
Couple of quick thoughts: These non-rules apply to tons of things in life. When I first started writing, a group leader told me I had to write on a schedule. When I let go and realized I was a binge writer, things took off. My first novel was published less than a year later. When I’m mentoring writers, we talk about finding and honoring your own process.
Validation helps. Finding a couple of binge writers I really respected (Faulkner, eg) freed me up to do my own thing. This blog works the same way for me. So often, you and I are on a wavelength, and that validates and reinforces my core.
Doing “dumb stuff” is a revelation to me. Like you, no TV, but I do love this one video game – Zuma’s Revenge. Ha! And I read a lot of supposedly junky novels. Ha again.
Sometime soon I’ll read the other post you recommend here. It’s caught my eye before, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. Thanks again for building such a rich website!!
Giant Dalmation shiny spotty hugs!
Thanks Mary Carol. I’m really glad you’re enjoying the posts.
This non-rule stuff absolutely applies to other subjects, as well. I actually explored that more fully in one of my very first posts “Question Everything”. You can find it here: http://www.deliberateblog.com/2011/02/27/question-everything/
Thanks again for your wonderful and kind words. 🙂
Chihuahua hugs (how cute would they be?)
Wow, i cannot believe every other blog out there is filled with so much spam, can you guys do something about this? Just wanted to say you have a nice blog, what are you using for combating comment spam?
Thanks Cynthia. I manually approve comments, and weed out the spammers personally.
Hey, better late than never… LOL.
I know what you mean about a changed tolerance. I find it so interesting that as I’ve raised my vibration, my relationship to a lot of things has changed. Alcohol gravitated out over time – I just naturally reduced my intake. There was no decision or anything. I just didn’t enjoy it anymore. My relationship to food changed. I went natural (no preservatives, no chemicals) years ago and finally made the switch to true, intuitive eating. But if I’d tried to push against these things, if I’d demonized alcohol, for example, I don’t think I would’ve had the same experience. As a consequence, I can have a great time in a bar, where everyone except me is drinking. It doesn’t bother me at all. I’m happy making my choice, while everyone around me makes theirs.
How did I miss this post?
If showing emotions is not spiritual then I am in trouble. I had this same belief as well. Why am I feeling anger when I am on a path committed to spirit? I’m ok with my emotions and I also allow others the benefit of sharing their feelings, thoughts, and emotions with me.
I’m not such a big fan of supposed to “act a certain way” scenarios like what fork to use with my salad. It’s too trivial to me.
Watching television, the older I get the less it interests me. I quit drinking alcohol five years ago because I am too sensitive to the effects of it. Sensitive to a lot of lower vibrational things to be more accurate.
You said it splendidly, Melody. I always like to say that, If it ain’t practical – it ain’t spiritual. Your article explains the sentiment to a T. We must learn to practice our own unique spiritual way so that it brings true joy and ease to our daily affairs.
Thanks for your kind words Rob. I think Everything is spiritual. We are spirit in physical form, and so everything is spiritual. I think once we start dropping the judgments, that becomes clearer.
i am new to spirituality but your post gave me a good idea bout it
thanks Melody 🙂
Thanks for stopping by Farouk!
An interesting post.
I agree that we should ignore this rule: People always have to be happy.It’s impossible.There are so many sudden thing happen in life and they can always be happy.
You yourself can do this so we don’t require others do this
Thanks for the comment. We can definitely control how we react and therefore control our emotions, but only if we’re willing to own them in the first place. By ignoring them and forcing ourselves to be artificially happy (because we think anything less than that is a failure) only serves to keep us stuck where we are, instead of allowing us to move on.
“In my view, spiritual people should meditate or do anything else, for that matter, precisely as often as they want to.”
WORD! So true. 🙂
That part was my second favorite.
My very most favoritest (lol) part of this article was when you said that negative emotions are comparable to hunger, and that they are signals, and not “bad” in their own right. I never thought about it that way.
I think you just changed my paradigm.. whoa.
My pleasure Fred! The whole emotions as vibrational indicators thing comes from the teachings of Abraham Hicks. I’ve been a student of theirs for a long time. Their work is much more theoretical, but they’ve really helped me to gain a deeper understanding of how it all works. You might want to check them out and see if you resonate with it.
Wow Kim. Thank you so much for your wonderful words. I’m thrilled that the information here is helpful to you. We’re always going to be a work in progress. Getting rid of (or at least decreasing) judgment is huge. I totally know what you’re saying about the freedom you’re feeling when you drop the need to judge anything. You just stop pushing against everything. It’s like trying to make all your problems go away by holding on to them tightly. And they’re attached to a bungee cord. Then, you realize you can just let go and it feels so easy and light. Wahoo! 😀
Great topic Melody! I feel such an authenic freedom when I read your work. You inspire me to find my own voice. So much of my life has been spent trying to follow the guidelines of others (mostly to be approved by them). I am now feeling a glimpse of true freedom to be me and follow my own intution (guided by my emotions…learned that from a special person…wink, wink). I feel so much more at ease allowing others to be themselves as well without jugement (that my dear is still a work in progress 🙂 ). But it gives me such a feeling of relief to remember that there is no right or wrong..good or bad. Everything just IS! It’s our own perceptions which cause the labels and negative feelings.
Thanks Melody…Today is a great day for lovin’ me…PERIOD!
Thanks for the comment! I love music (with my name, how could I not?), and I’ve found the musicians that affect me the most are the ones that stream the most energy. You don’t get that from forced, uninspired practicing, or generic, computer generated muzak. There’s no substitute for someone how has honed their skills to the point that they can effortlessly translate energy into something beautiful and uplifting.
I feel a connection to you Melody. You speak in terms (spiritually) in a similar way to myself. You are right, the shoulds and shouldn’ts do create a distance from our true selves. Like the “how often to meditate”, practicing will make the exercise more productive. That is assusming it is what we want to do as opposed to what we think we should do. As a musician, I practice to improve, but if I didn’t enjoy music, then there would be no point in me practicing at all.
Thanks for stopping by Todd! It’s so easy to fall into the trap of absolutes. People often ask for frameworks. But that doesn’t mean we have to give it to them. Ultimately, I think our task as spiritual teachers is to help people awaken to their own power. I’ve read your blog, though, and think it’s excellent, so no worries. 🙂
I think you really nailed it with this one. I’ve also got the impression through many sites and books that the rules you mentioned should be followed. I for one am tired of always following rules especially in the new age arena. Let’s face it, there’s no definitive list of right and wrong out there, like religions with their doctrines. What may work for one person might not for someone else.
After I read your post I realized I had written some articles on the LOA and used phrases like “don’t do this…” From now on when I write posts I will merely make suggestions. Thanks again for the great post.
So very true…
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Jeff!
Hello! indeed i am happy to read on this subject. The following are my own experience with ‘spiritualism’
Hindus at Tamilnadu,India consider few days in a week as auspicious but other days as opposite. Why, even rocket scientists launch PSLV’S ‘ONLY ON AUSPICIOUS DAYS’- Tuesday’s ,Saturday’s are avoided. So, what is the reason? This pattern of thinking is typically homegrown with out serving any purpose. Conditioned minds of my culture have no answers.
I believe that the universe functions without any “time-dimension” . There is no such thing as time but it is an imaginary factor created by man or society. Indian science called horoscopy is purely based on time which is totally meaning less but it is psychological,
Thanks so much for stopping by! There may have been a reason for these rules when they were first adopted, albeit they may not have been based on spirituality, but were more political in nature. Time is an interesting topic: I do think that time exists, because we believe it does. It’s our perception of time that makes it exist. But it doesn’t exist outside of our reality. We can control it – we can perceive time to go by very quickly or very slowly. Time can even seem to stop. Really interesting subject! 🙂