Investigating (with slight irritation) Certain Spiritual Teachings

Teaching up for investigation: “It’s not up to you what you learn, but only whether you learn through joy or through pain.” ~A Course in Miracles

Upfront disclaimer: If you hear a charge in this post, you are right on. I’m irritated with certain spiritual teachings (I’ll get through it, but right now I am learning in a slightly painful way). I think some teachings are only useful in keeping us away from the real work, which in the long term is not useful. This one (above) for example has those markings. So, let’s investigate- if I believe in this teaching, that would mean I have no possibility of insight into my lessons. There is some being somewhere in charge of what I need to learn. It would also mean that I have a choice whether I learn through joy or through pain. I would agree, we have choice- and if I am using my strong will, I can will myself to choose to learn through joy, instead of pain. I mean who the hell really wants to learn through pain…..?

But, can we be honest? I can’t be the only one who has learned a lot of my lessons through intense amounts of pain. Pain, I was so immersed in I didn’t have the will power to choose joy, to even think that was an option. Does this then make me weak? Insufficient because I chose to suffer instead of jump to those lessons with glee?

To learn in joy is a certain kind of mastery I don’t believe I could even talk much about (I don’t like to talk about ideas without having personal experience). I’m not there. I think it’s possible for those who have worked diligently and intently on their path, and gone through lots of pain, but for most of us common folk, still ignorant to our True nature, this type of spiritual teaching might not be helpful. It keeps us in the superficial layer of our spiritual growth, where we think we can control how we feel by will alone. And where some of us who have gone a bit deeper than the superficial layers might feel bad because we aren’t choosing our lessons through joy. There were many times, as much as I was inspired by Wayne Dyer’s teachings, I felt like a failure because I wasn’t all happy, happy, joy, joy and maintaing my spiritual perspective through my shit, my hand on the trolley strap, so to speak.

To go back to this teaching that it is not up to us what we learn- this makes me feel disempowered. I know there is a soul, and I know contained within this soul are my lessons. I believe these lessons are universal, and we will all learn them as we are ready, which means we are the ones who choose to receive those lessons or to put them off. I also know we are given the extraordinary gift of insight, which can be used to look within and have knowledge into our lessons. I also trust, as we evolve into this soul, we will be able facilitate and consciously prepare and participate in those lessons. We may not know how those lessons will come to us, but we can know they are coming and will remain open and ready to receive. This may be the point in which there is joy- a sort of anticipatory joy, like YAY! Today I am going to be stretched and I can’t wait because I want to grow. But so many of us are unaware of this going on inside of us so how can we consciously participate, let alone joyously (therefore not knowing might be a more comfortable belief for those wanting to stay safe on the shore). This means the lessons that do come are probably going to hurt like hell because we don’t know what is going on or why and we are resisting them all the way.

Looking for the positive:

What this spiritual lesson does do is bring awareness that there are lessons we will learn and are learning. That is essential to know. It gives perspective. It also brings awareness to choice of joy or pain, but it doesn’t go deep or wide or guide enough to where many of us are right now in our evolution- not where we can choose joy in a pure authentic way while we grow (but we can pretend :-). Having only read bits and pieces of ACIM, maybe it does do this throughout the book. What I did read, the words inspired higher aspects, but it wasn’t very grounding for me. I am not content only with ideals. I want to be those ideals, and that is quite a process of unraveling and discovering. It’s work. Often painful- just being honest.

Lesson: The most helpful teaching/teacher for me inspires my true nature, while also holding the space of where I am with insight, guidance and compassion. 

10 thoughts on “Investigating (with slight irritation) Certain Spiritual Teachings

  1. I had to smile Nikki. The ONLY thing you can learn in this dream is that You Are Perfect As God Created You. How that fact could induce pain often baffles me, It could only be that you would have an Authority Problem. You want to be in charge, but the thing that wants to be in charge isn’t real. Because… you are already created perfectly by God.

    I don’t expect you to jump on board with glee but I would encourage you to at least do the Mind training in the workbook of A Course In Miracles, Why? It’s a required Course!

    You WILL come to the realization, kicking and screaming or joyful, That God is eternal and you (not the mindless, little ,sick, deathly thing you think of as yourself) are forever an effect of Him.

    That’s not hard to learn is it?
    It doesn’t take time, it takes acceptance.

    God Bless

  2. I’m a big believer in the concept that God has given us Free Will – and part of that is that, while certain lessons can be offered, we do chose whether we will learn or not, we do chose what to get out of the experience ( sometimes we do chose the wrong thing, but that’s another topic), and we can chose to go after learning things on our own. A kind of “independant study” of the spirit…

    As to learning through pain vs joy, because a lot of us find change challenging, we tend to leave it until “sitting on the red hot stove” of our present situation becomes painful enough that staying put is no longer an option.

    Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. I’m working on learning to spot when I need to learn and change without being poked with a sharp stick to get my attention.
    Some days, I’m better at this than others…..


    • It’s a process- and some moments we seem to rise and others we seem to fall. The pain is part of the perfection. Oprah used to talk about getting the pebble to let us know to pay attention, and if we don’t listen to that than it becomes a rock and soon you’ve got the whole brick wall falling on you. Everyone is in a different place with how they learn and some lessons are easier to face than others. There is no straight and narrow path- a simple 1-step plan- at least not that I have pinned down. Best to you in being better than you used to be.

      • Respectfully, I’ll have to disagree with you a bit on that.

        Pain may be part of the process, as in, if w don’t pay attention to what we need to learn, a worsening situation and the pain that goes with that may call our atttention to it.

        But pain is not really part of the perfection. We can learn without having to be poked with a metaphorically sharp stick, and perfect the next step in our journey without a pebble in our shoe.

        If we pay attention. If we focus. If we know what’ most important to our unique journeys.

        Happy trails to you


  3. Have you experienced pain on your spiritual quest? I wonder how anyone could not, and if this is such, than we can choose to trust that pain is part of the perfection, which means part of the process in our perfection. What I have found in my process, is in the beginning I seemed more aware, which is what it seems you are saying ( we don’t need the pebble). During this time, I could foresee some of the lessons and understand what I was facing within myself. But the lessons themselves caused pain and at the very least discomfort and at the most, intense and frightening experiences. Now, on my path it seems what I need to uncover within myself are more deeply entrenched and more difficult to see, therefore causing a new kind of discomfort. Eknath Easwaran, a spiritual teacher says in the beginning we deal with what he called lilliputians. We free ourselves from those and find the giants we must face.

    I think if we take our path lightly and choose to see what is only easy to see then perhaps less pain- and maybe none for those where that is a belief. But here, we experience death, disease, loss- so many things and it is odd to me there is such rejection of pain in this new era of spirituality, which is one of my issues with this new age- it doesn’t seem to be grounded in the a deeper recognition of the spiritual journey.

    To continue with this idea of pain we are not in agreement with, if it helps think growing pains. Or- do you work out? If so, there is usually pain involved after we have pushed ourselves beyond our comfort, but if we continue to do so, new strength will develop. I do not often enjoy the discomfort I have expereinced on my spiritual path, but I do know I am growing. And that is the point.

    • Is there pain in life?

      Yes, but it does not mean that it must be a part of the process of enlightenment.

      Have I experienced pain on my path?

      Yes, but most of it was caused by situations where I wasn’t listening, or was resisting going where I, deep down, knew I needed to go.

      And as I’ve gotten better at paying attention and taking the next step on my path without having to be poked with the sharp stick of Enlightenment, I find that I can move forward on my path without requiring pain to make me move.

      Some people have no pain because they take their growth too lightly. But some people don’t have pain because they have learned to listen to the voice of spirit and grow without requiring pain to inspire them

      Pain is a part of life, but it isn’t a part of perfection. Change will happen, suffering is optional.


      • It seems to me you are separating life and the path to enlightenment/spiritual path. If pain is a part of life and life is where we “perfect” either by becoming conscious of the truth of what we already are or whatever our belief, than for me pain is a part of it ALL.

        I brought this conversation to others and someone brought up a point- that we suffer or are in pain because of our separation or the illusion of our separation from our source. We agreed we have had glimpses of our union, but these glimpses are just this until we are ready and prepared to be fully conscious of our oneness.

        We may not be aware that we suffer from this “separation,” this not fully knowing who we are. Maybe because we have a set of beliefs which make us feel we are connected and this is enough to serve us. Much like a Christian who accepts Jesus as their savior and then they are saved. But it is more than this. Buddha said of his teachings- what I give is not philosophy. It is offered from direct experience. There are many mountains for us to climb. Much land to cover. A lot of direct experience to learn from so that with each step we might become more conscious.

        I remember there was a time, in fact not long ago I believed I had the foresight to only need the pebble or perhaps not even this to learn my lessons, but no longer. It seems the deeper I dig within, the less I seem to know and see. Its a blessing. I am more comfortable in the mystery, not thinking I have got it all figured out.

        From my experience If there is no pain, I’m either enlightened already or pretty darn close, which I’m not or I’m treading too lightly. We have ALL inside of us and yet nothing. We are space- containing nothing and everything. That can be frightening and liberating, painful and ecstatic. I do not believe we have to choose joy over pain. Or pain over joy. Both are within and I am good with this, and I will continue to dig. Ever changing, yet changeless. A quote with great perspective for me is from Byron Katie, “Don’t pretend yourself beyond your evolution.” I can only be where I am.

  4. I am making a distinction here. We do reach enlightenment through things that happen in our lives, but not all of life is part of that path to enlightenment. Indeed, sometimes experiences in life can take us in the opposite direction, if we chose to take that route.

    Pain can be part of that path to enlightenment. But pain is not an essential part of that path. Like anything, we can chose to learn without having to do things the hard way

    And since what one believes tends to shape the reality around one, if you chose to believe that pain is necessary for you to grow, that’s the kind of reality you will manifest for yourself

    I have a student who also believes that, to grow as a healer and an enlightened person, he must suffer. And so, with every step he takes towards greater ability in this field, he manifests illnesses, injury, accidents, brief comas.

    And his fellow students, who achieve the same new degrees of enlightement and capacity, all manage to do this without the same manifestation of pain and suffering in theire lives.

    Yet, despite all of the examples around him, despite all the proof that spirit gives him, he clings to the belief that his pain is necessary.

    He has Free Will. It’s his choice. But I wish that he would open up his eyes and not put himself through the unnecessary pain


    • His pain is not unnecessary if that is what he needs, if that is where he is. This idea of yours is your belief about what the spiritual path is but this doesn’t make it right, except for you because this is what you believe.

      Beliefs protect. They make us think we know something, something that makes life manageable- beliefs that the path is hard or the path is easy if we just pay attention or think God like thoughts or whatever. The path just IS. It is wise to investigate and let go of our beliefs, as there are many, as we are ready.We are here to evolve to the place where we feel secure enough on our path where we become watchers. Observes. Noticing. No need to project or believe or control or know anything to feel secure.

      Your statement here- I find limiting and showing separateness- “I am making a distinction here. We do reach enlightenment through things that happen in our lives, but not all of life is part of that path to enlightenment.” What is the need to separate or make a distinction of life and the path to enlightenment? I don’t need your answer-just asking.

      We can go back and forth on this, which is fine for me if I’m learning and not just defending beliefs. I have learned, and shared with you along the way.

      On my path so far I’ve had intense moments of pain. I’ve had gorgeous glimpses of fulfillment. I’ve had a lot of just living- tending to the garden I have created. For me, they are a part of the journey, a part of life, and it is all okay. Everything here is for my growth. Everything.

      Thanks for the conversation.

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