Spiritual Consumerism VS Relational Spiritualism
By Dawn Dancing Otter, Liaigh Sídhe of the Village
It is not your fault you feel empty when everything slows down, when the house is empty, when something changes, when someone dies.
It is not your fault that our biggest ’solution’ to emptiness at this time in history is to consume. It’s wine o’clock. Time to work on the six pack abs, time to eat chocolate, go have a spa day, go to the latest YouTube guru video. We teach and are taught to fill that empty space, at any and all cost. Sometimes this is described insidiously, under such hopeful contexts as “self-care”.
Sometimes, this is described as ‘spiritual retreat”. Sometimes we call this a session, an appointment, a hangout. And while all of these experiences are potentially powerful, most certainly needed to lubricate the gears of lifestyle, they are generally consumed like a piece of tiramisu, not a medicine.
And it is not your fault that you learned to fill a hole of longing with something shiny and distracting. After all, isn’t it our duty to consume? Isn’t it good to drive industry…support people? Isn’t it good that we find ways to share our incomes with others through good work?
Well, yes, it is good, in some ways.
When we interrupt discomfort by consuming soothing methods, substance, humans, spirits, we stop the sensation of pain from demeaning our focus. The main problem with the consistent choice to soothe is that the pain is not wrong.
Pain is honest communication.
There is no question that we move away from pain as a natural protective reaction. Our lower brain functions demand this. We do this for all kinds of pain, including grief, heartache, trauma, empathic pain…
The only way to really transform a painful experience is to walk through it, to develop self-reliance, to Village our needs, to grow resilient and compassionate and wise in that walk. We can learn to change the things we cannot accept, not to soothe, cope, accommodate.
And this is not a solo journey
The patterns of consuming to fill the empty longing space have a consequence for more than just ourselves.
That we choose to avoid changing the way we do things, to sacrifice the perceived convenience in the design of familiarity will keep us from dying for a time. And that can feel deceptively safe, and it is,
until it’s not.
We become soft, dull, slow in our privilege of comfort. We lean upon the capabilities of others for the things we refuse to do ourselves, even in the case of spirituality. If we can consume the blissful offerings from the teachers, healers, Soul Journeyers of this world, we can feel the discomfort releasing from our emptiness. Knowing ‘we are spirit’, ‘we are One’ ‘everything happens for a reason’, ‘it’s all about Love’ can be ecstatically seductive in the presence of deep pain.
So we take in that bliss. For a time, it feels like the most important medicine. It fills us with hope and helps us to lift up when the gravity of loss pulls strongly.
Just like an opiate to someone in great pain, that hope feels like God itself coursing through our veins. It might get us through today. Tomorrow. Next week.
Until we need it to even function.
We make sure to surround ourselves with others who are similarly dependant on the delivery of hope-highs, we begin to push others away who are ‘lower vibration’ or ‘not like-minded’ or ‘not walking the same path’.
We reject alternate viewpoints and beliefs. We don’t ask questions of hope, but deeply scrutinize all evidence that challenges hope, and those who question.
And we create a comfortable crypt for our repressed consciousness. The gagged body finds ways to whisper, shout, scream the truth.
The impact of this repressed pain becomes a projection on those who are not so privileged to numb out on hope-highs. They pick up the tab for the inaction of hope junkies.
When we refuse to challenge comfort or disrupt familiarity, we become fragile.
When we take courses or attend gatherings, we may feel filled up by the energy of the people in the circle, by what has been called in to the circle, by the beauty of connection.
Are we then taking that spiritual nutrition and elevating our loved ones, the Land, the Creaturehood of human and non
-human within our communities?
I have witnessed how spiritually identified people tend towards “like-minded people”, and then to identify others as having “negative vibes” or a “lower frequency” or not “on the spiritual path” because they may disagree or not resonate with the same beliefs, or appreciate the messages or actions.
Such people who are described as ‘negative’ may also be in need of connection, understanding, and nurturing. Is the spirituality helping to connect, understand, and nurture others regardless of their beliefs? It is easy to preach to the choir, and much more challenging to walk the path and live by example, without trying to recruit or change someone’s beliefs.
Is your version of spirituality helping you be of greater service to others within the creaturehood, to the Land, to the unseen ones? Is it helping you to be more resilient in the world? Is it helping you build bridges and weave broken strands of connection? Is it helping you to heal and atone for past harmful impacts?
If we are not exploring spirituality in a relational capacity, we do not allow for the teachings to create a wake of elevation in our communities where it could be of greater benefit. Relational spiritual practice develops resilience in our beings as we are then held accountable to our words and values by our community. We rely on witnessing our impacts as a growth process rather than pure good intention and positive belief.
To village brings great potential for radical human evolution.