Monday 28 June 2021

Overcoming Spiritual Stuckness - pitfalls

When I wrote recently about Spiritual Stuckness (which, for me, is a daily experience, and often lasts for days on end) - my take-home message was that there was no 'generic' answer - such as are often suggested by the traditional Christian writings. 

First; the 'overcoming' is not meant to be achievement of a high spiritual state on a permanent basis; but is meant to be learning the lesson that the stuckness is here to teach us

And that lesson is likely to be personal and specific; designed (by God) to address our own particular problems and needs. 

Yet it may also be helpful to recognize that the overcoming should not be assumed to be something that happens by traditional means. In historical writings, spiritual stuckness may be overcome by rather spectacular perceptions such as visions of the divine, or hearing the voice of God - maybe in response to intense prayer, meditation or ascetic denial - or participation in communal religious ritual. 

These methods are often, I think, ineffectual for modern people: partly because they simply don't work for everybody; partly that the extremity in derangement of consciousness required to generate visions and voices (for example) renders memory and understanding defective; partly that such attempts are highly prone to mislead (being contaminated by wishful thinking). 

Therefore it may be helpful to consider that 'communications' from God (guidance of the Holy Ghost, perhaps) may be direct, rather than perceptual. That is, they may appear in consciousness simply as knowing some-thing.  

Even before I was a Christian; I would often know that some-thing was wrong; that I should stop doing some-thing (even when I had no clue what I ought to be doing instead. 

So, I might know 'I should Not do This job' - but I did not know what alternative job I ought to do; I might know I had done or thought evil, without understanding why it was evil - or indeed what evil meant. 

That is one kind of leading. But it is negative rather than positive. How about direct knowing by positive guidance? 

Positive direct knowing may go unrecognized because it is drowned-out (on the one side) - for instance by the inputs of mass media or socializing. Or (on the other side) no attention is being given to such inner knowing - because of the habit of directing attention, outwards, or towards past memories, or future plans. 

Not many people, it seems, give attention to the present moment of thinking; when knowing may occur in thinking.  

The idea that we are primarily supposed to learn-from our stuckness, rather than cure (or behaviourally-changed-by) our state of stuckness, is a difficult one to accept and retain - yet this is probably the key to everything else. 


cae said...

I think you are absolutely spot on with this post, especially as summed up in that very last sentence!

From my experience, I can attest that "Spiritual Stuckness" incorporates such a feeling of emotional discomfort - that one becomes 'temptable' by all manner of distractions in the attempt to avoid being 'attentively present'...

...and as well, those distractions often consist of activities (such as reading spiritual materials) which are easily mistaken for being what one 'needs' or has been 'lead' to do in order to resolve the "Stuckness" -
- when in fact, as you pointed out, what we most need to do is 'be present' within the 'stuck' time and learn whatever it's trying to 'teach' us...

ToTheRightRon said...

Currently reading "The Spiritual Man" by Watchman Nee. I'm about a quarter of the way through and half a dozen times I've run across something I thought would resonate with you. The book describes salvation, the flesh, the soul and the spirit. He points out how much of what Christians call "spiritual" is actually the works of the soul, soulish. I've read the salvation and flesh chapter and I'm in the soul section now. The spirit section should be interesting as already he has alluded to intuition in relation to communication with the Spirit.