Before the chinese invaded the Himalayas, Tibet was a feudal country, and its infrastructures were laughable: wooden bridges, no electricity or tap water, no trains, nothing. Tibetans were also extremely ignorant of the world, in fact, until recently, many of them still held the belief that the earth was flat.
I remember having a conversation with a modern Tibetan Lama who stuck to that pre-Copernician cosmology, he even tried to explain how planes could fly following weird routes from the East to the West on his flat planet…
In short, Tibet was the example of a country that didn’t care about physics and technology, along with the productivity tools that derive from modern science.
On the other hand, Tibetans cared a lot about mind and meditation.
Most countries were busy swinging their military dicks around the world for centuries while Tibet dedicated all its energy to the exploration and understanding of Buddhist canons.
This remote Asian country funded the education of generations of inner explorers, thousands of whom reached advanced stages of spiritual accomplishment.
We still have little understanding of what was actually going on there. Of course, we all saw pictures of monks’ rituals and ceremonies, but the visual part isn’t as important as the mind science that has developed there.
I’m not a Tibetan. I didn’t benefit from the golden spiritual age of Tibet, meditation and inner science wasn’t part of my curriculum.
I grew up in France instead, where I was told to focus on history, math, science and literature, I wish I had been given more spiritual background.
My point is not to criticize the western heritage: humanities and sciences are great, but they merely focus on outer phenomena and they forget an essential part of life: ourselves.
Don’t you think that it’s weird: a whole education system that trains you to understand EVERYTHING but yourself?
Given my tortured and stressed mind, the western school system didn’t work for me, I had to dig in other cultures to get the fulfillment that I was looking for.
I’m extremely happy with what I found in Buddhism, but it didn’t come easy as the western world is not very compatible with spirituality. I believe I identified some of the most common limitations that prevent industrialized countries from promoting spiritual life, let me share the top 10 obstacles to crush if you’ve decided to give more time to your mind.
Why following through spiritual studies is so hard, and what to do about it
It’s NOT heavenly (at least the first few years)
Spirituality is probably the roughest thing you’ll ever experience. Simply because if you want to practice it right you’ll need to face what you are and it’s not what you think.
If you think you’re a great person, spirituality will reveal that you’re mostly full of yourself.
If you’re certain to be worthless, it will force you into accepting the immense qualities that have been yours since day one.
Both belief are equally difficult to change, and before you do, you’ll resist and struggle.
And you’ll be tempted to quit.
Tip: read the bios of self-made men like Milarepa
Ego tries to eat everything
In an ideal situation, spirituality should eliminate all self-centered thinking… In reality though, spiritual practice will probably inflate your ego. It’s so easy to consider yourself special after your first week of meditation.
Tip: choose a spiritual guide that openly admits his faults and follow him.
It’s full of spiritual scams
Any moron can wear a ridiculous hat and claim that he’s the king of Yogis. And you can be sure that he’ll still find a following. Our world is so desperate for meaning and reassurance that any kind of bullshit can be told to large gullible audiences. They’ll believe in it.
Fake gurus, 5 minutes meditation guides…Wrongful advice and corrupted guidance are among the worst obstacles that can ruin your spiritual endeavors.
Tip: You were given the precious tool of rational thinking at school, use it when looking for spiritual guidance, and combine it with your personal intuition.
The real deal is hidden from you
Spirituality is not a very profitable niche, unless you lead a branch of an awful scam like Scientology. A lot of genuine spiritualities don’t have money to advertise. That means that you won’t necessarily hear of genuine spiritual movements in the media or in the ads. And online info is unfortunately limited in this area too.
Tip: try to visit monasteries and spiritual centers for short periods of time. Talking with people there will give you access to word-of-mouth information that can’t be found in the news.
Mind-blowing meditation experiences are quite common among new Buddhist practitioners. And then no inspiration at all for a while.
Authentic spirituality will take you there, but not necessarily the way you want it. That means you’ll probably have to endure long stretches of extreme boredom and loss of interest.
Tip: stick to it, trust the process.
It’ll challenges your capacity to evolve
Science has helped human beings understand how nature works. Spirituality will challenge your capacity to think beyond yourself, beyond your lizard brain and its selfish emotional expectations.
That’ll be a reason to quit because you’ll face your limitations all the time.
Tip: try to remember: what do you want to become, a lizard or a human?
It’s a path of no return
The doors of inner science won’t close after you open them. They’ll stay open. You’ll now have to walk the path until the end. Don’t waste time trying to get back to the world as you used to know it. It’ll be impossible.
Tip: If you didn’t start with a spiritual path yet, document yourself well, move on only when you’re ready to swallow the red pill.
It’s hard to believe
It’s difficult to believe that we can eliminate suffering. It’s also hard to believe that all that we’ve experienced so far was just a painful illusion.
Because spirituality is so far away from the world as we currently know it, we instinctively refuse to accept Christ or Buddha’s words.
Tip: You don’t need to believe, just give it a try. “What if these enlightened guys were right?”
Nobody knows, nobody cares
Please don’t expect your family and friends to understand whatever you’re trying to do with spirituality, let alone being admired for your inspiring choice. That’s part of the deal and I’ve seen a lot of people throw the towel because they didn’t want to become pariahs.
It can be a pretty big bummer to feel alone in your practice though, even worse to be rejected.
Tip: loneliness is an inherent part of spiritual paths, try to accept it. Yet, try to find friends that are on the same page!
And you’ll look like a wacko anyway
Engaging in spirituality will certainly make you look like a mentally fragile person. Some of your acquaintances will be certain that you somewhat lost track of reality for sitting cross-legged reciting mantras or doing just nothing.
Deal with it.
Tip: it’s a dirty tip, though. Look at how crazy unspiritual persons are.
Soon I’ll try to condensate a few more hints on how to pull through when you’ve decided to explore spirituality. In the meantime, feel free to share your own experiences in the comments below.