“What you seek is seeking you.” ~ Rumi
Life is short. The universe is not. And reality? Well, it’s arguably infinite. And yet here we are, little flecks of consciousness flanked by the infinitesimal of the micro and the majesty of the macro, pinched between an eternal past and an infinite future.
Fleeting mortal beings with mortal coils set against an immortal backdrop. And yet the daunting prospect of it all is deliciously poignant for seekers of truth and beauty. All the more reason to dive right in, with a leap of courage. All the more reason to engage the adventure of the quest, no matter how futile.
For some of us, life is more fulfilling when we’re able to connect finitude with infinity. We flourish by finding footholds despite our floundering and failings. Indeed. Bridging the gap, or at least attempting to, is relishing the journey being the thing. Life becomes more satisfying when we’re able to triumph over nihilism and meaninglessness by engaging with our own existential angst and then responsibly creating meaning despite.
Such engagement, such responsibility, is precisely the mantle assumed by a spiritual seeker. Here are seven signs you may already be one.
1.) You have replaced religious dogma with spiritual openness:
“The totally convinced and the totally stupid have too much in common for the resemblance to be accidental.” ~ Robert Anton Wilson
You no longer put all your eggs in one basket. The dogmatic yoke you were raised with has been promptly clipped and buried in the backyard, along with your blind naiveté and parochial ignorance. Belief itself has slipped off you like unnecessary armor. You now face the daunting universe with a valiant vulnerability and courageous openness. Your heart is a big red question mark beating a patter against the bigger question mark of the cosmos.
No longer are you merely a puppet to outdated notions of truth grown uncouth through the passage of time. You’ve realized the grievous error of blind worship and the shortsightedness of sycophantic obsequiousness. So you’ve dared to get off your knees and face the Great Mystery with courage in your heart and love in your soul. The limitless universe and interdependent cosmos is your stage and you are ready to dance.
2.) You have an unquenchable thirst for self-knowledge:
“For man to be able to live he must either not see the infinite, or have such an explanation of the meaning of life as will connect the finite with the infinite.” ~ Leo Tolstoy
Questioning things is the name of your game. And the game is infinite. You realize that the rabbit hole goes so deep that it comes back around as a wormhole. No matter where you stand in this descending ascent (ascending descent), you understand that any worthy explanation of things will always begin with yourself.
So you’re not afraid to crush a billion outdated versions of yourself into a billion more updated versions. Indeed. Your self-overcoming game is strong.
Your thirst for self-knowledge is even stronger. As a social creature, you realize the potential of learning from other people’s mistakes and successes. You can stand on the shoulders of giants and see further than they did. You apply such knowledge to an ever-deepening sense of self-connection to the interconnected universe. Self-as-cosmos and cosmos-as-self emerges to keep your ego from getting out of control.
3.) You’ve heard “the call” and seek creative ways to heed it:
“Once one has said yes to the call to adventure, the ego is securely in the grip of the soul, and the soul serves notice that the ego will not emerge unchanged.” ~ Bill Plotkin
Destiny has called your name and you are now heeding the call of your own Hero’s Journey. You’ve transformed fear into fearlessness, making the daunting undertaking of the journey a possibility. Where before you were tangled up in the slave chains of religion, now you’ve untied the Gordian Knot and actualized your most free and authentic self. You are a personified loophole, epitomizing the human necessity for thinking outside the box.
You realize that a spiritual seeker isn’t like a fireman putting out fires so that people can live comfortably in their homes. Not at all. A fully engaged spiritual seeker is more like an arsonist, setting fire to people’s comfort and feeding the flames with courage and love. And it begins with setting fire to the comfort of your own “home.”
But your creativity is all the more robust because of your liberation. You are able to manifest a creative tension between ideal and real, between utopic dreams and the struggle of the waking world. Your energy is engaging and functions creatively around the tension of opposites. Your journey is your own, but you realize that all journeys merge in unseen ways.
4.) You’ve replaced seriousness with sincerity:
“Life is too important to be taken seriously.” ~ Oscar Wilde
You understand that self-importance and religious weightiness hinders authentic spiritual expression. You see how being too hung up on the outdated ideals of men from a bygone age cripples the robustness of the spirit.
So you’ve replaced religious urgency with spiritual flexibility. Thus gaining the ability to remove the healthy and the moral from all religions while leaving behind the unhealthy and the immoral. You are able to absorb what is useful and discard what is not from both religious and spiritual knowledge.
You realize that life is too short to be overly serious. You understand that seriousness is the bane of creativity and flexibility and cripples the seeking spirit. So along with the dogmatic yoke, you’ve buried your seriousness as compost so that it may grow into authenticity. Your spiritual authenticity pierces through all things as a radiating cosmic humor that stands as a beacon of hope for those seekers just beginning their journey.
5.) You practice non-identification and non-attachment:
“The longing to transcend human limits is as human as the fact that we cannot.” ~ Susan Neiman
The spiritual seeker’s path is riddled with snake oil salesmen and religious bamboozlers galore. At every turn there is an “answer” waiting for you to lean on like a crutch and become comfortable and complacent with, or a “holy book” to follow so you can stop questioning things and allow someone else to do your thinking for you.
But you understand that a true spiritual seeker doesn’t seek answers to attach their ego to. They seek better questions in order to detach their ego and engage their spirit. They seek sacred presence and surrender to the present.
They seek naked truth, vulnerable truth. The kind of truth that’s not wrapped up in rigid titles, or dogmatic “laws,” or holy testament, but unwrapped within an interdependent connection with all things. The kind of truth that touches infinity and cannot be pigeonholed by the limited scope of man.
6.) You’ve replaced complacent apathy with compassionate empathy:
“I salute the light within your eyes where the whole universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am at that place within me, we shall be one.” ~ Chief Crazy Horse
You see now how the complacency inherent within religious circles stifles the soul’s flourishing. So you’ve replaced such stagnate vanity with compassion and empathy.
You understand that human beings are story-telling social animals who must grow within the mythologies of the cultural apparatus erected around them. The problem is that religion traps a person in the rigidness of its own mythology.
You see how this leads to cultural conditioning that must be reconditioned in order to be an authentic spiritual seeker. If it is not reconditioned through deep self-reflection and even deeper soul work, then the soul atrophies and the person becomes spiritually stagnate and declines into a state of apathy toward others.
Although your empathy is warm and sincere, your honesty is cutting in its efforts to liberate humanity from the egoic ties that bind it to unhealthy religions. You are not pretend forgiving. You are not afraid of losing popularity for speaking the truth.
Like Ken Wilber made clear, “Real compassion kicks butt and takes names and is not pleasant on certain days. If you are not ready for this fire, then find a new-age, sweetness and light, perpetually smiling teacher and learn to relabel your ego with religious sounding terms. But, stay away from those who practice real compassion, because they will fry your ass, my friend.”
7.) You’re able to stretch your comfort zone to become more of the world:
“Be relentless in your looking, because you are the one you seek.” ~ Rumi
You’ve replaced codependent religiosity with interdependent spirituality. As such, you are a great expansion.
You seek a flexible self-as-cosmos/cosmos-as-self disposition toward life that is interdependent rather than merely codependent. This means seeing the outer world as an extension of your inner world.
As your comfort zone stretches, you feel the existential pain increase. Still, your search is unyielding and voracious even through the pain that comes from new knowledge.
You embrace this pain as a remedy for the so called bliss of your previous ignorance. This is because you are flexible enough to expand into the painful novelty of it all and then retract into familiar comfort. You become stronger for it, and more spiritually robust.
As your seeking heart stretches, your soul enlarges, expanding like an invisible skin that subsumes the visible organs of the cosmos. Courage and love drive you. There is much adventure to be had. There is much to unfold.
The infinity all around you pulses as the lifeblood of the Great Mystery, and you are a vital part of it all, for you give it meaning that it would not otherwise have. “What you seek is seeking you?” So be it. You’re able to realize that meaningless Infinity is seeking meaning through your finite perception. And suddenly, you are not so small.
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