Have you felt like you have been in discovery mode, exploring all different spiritual paths and getting lost in finding the right one for you? In this episode, we talk about the mind and how choosing one path creates freedom. We discuss:
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How to Choose Your Spiritual Path Transcript
Debra Maldonado 00:00
Welcome to Soul Sessions with CreativeMind with Debra Berndt Maldonado and Dr. Rob Maldonado of CreativeMind. Join us each week for inspiring conversation about personal development based on Jungian philosophy, Eastern spirituality, and social neuroscience. Spend each week with us to explore deep topics in a practical way. Let's begin.
Debra Maldonado 00:28
Hello, welcome to another episode of Soul Sessions. I'm Debra Maldonado, here with Dr. Rob Maldonado. We are continuing our series on spiritual psychology. Today we're talking about the power of staying in one path, one spiritual discipline. Before we start, I want to invite you all to subscribe to our channel. If you're watching us on YouTube, click the button here below. Or if you are listening to us on one of the many podcast services, don't miss another episode and make sure you hit Subscribe on that service, so you can make sure you don't miss a bite of this information. Today we're going to talk about why we need to stay on one path and the benefit of that versus the multipath.
Robert Maldonado 01:24
It's about choosing a path because often people come to the work with a lot of different ideas, lots of different concepts and trainings. That's great. That's an important piece, there's a period of your time and your life early on that you should explore. You should not choose yet.
Debra Maldonado 01:51
When you're in your 20s, you're in that discovery, exploration, figuring out who you are. You may do lots of different things, dabble in a lot of different things to figure out what you believe. Many of us now are spiritual, but not religious. We don't have that religion to rely upon to guide us. We have a lot of spiritual but not religious people that are out there just trying to figure it out. What do I do? What do I believe? With the internet right now, there is so much information out there that you can easily get lost. It's almost as if you never want to make that decision because you keep moving away. Let's start with what causes us to have this seeking of spiritual knowledge in the first place.
Robert Maldonado 02:47
I want to dedicate this episode to our Masters students. We enjoy working with you guys so much. Thank you for your passion and dedication to the work. So why is it important? This is from the Rig Veda, it says “The truth is one. The wise call it by many names.” What it's saying is, every path will get you there if you follow it. If it's a genuine path of spirituality, of mind and personal development, it will reach that truth, it will get you there. But you need to follow that. It also says that when the self is not realized — I’m paraphrasing — but when the self is not realized, when you don't understand the true nature of your mind, the true nature of reality, it acts like an enemy towards you. It actually hurts you. It calms your mind, your consciousness, your essence, your soul, as Jung would say. It essentially acts like an enemy because we're meant to develop this powerful persona ego, this personality we identify with. But we're also meant to transcend it. We're not meant to stay there. When people stay there, they don't follow the next step, or they don't bother to find the meaning of what's beyond their persona.
Debra Maldonado 04:42
Then it becomes lack of fulfillment or something missing. The constant looking externally for rewards and wanting more, never feeling like life is enough.
Robert Maldonado 04:58
In the best case scenario that would be the case, but in the worst case scenario, consciousness becomes a burden to individuals, they don't know what to do with this awareness, it bothers them, it's like a thorn in the flesh, always putting pressure on you to grow, to do something. Because you don't have the tools or the knowledge to do something with it, all you can do is try to obliterate it, try to avoid it, try to distract yourself at best, and at worst, use drugs, alcohol, shopping, TV, anything like that.
Debra Maldonado 05:46
Achieving money to drown it out. If I just make another million dollars, I'll be happy.
Robert Maldonado 05:53
The mind then acts against you, it becomes an enemy towards you, not only passively that you're not using it, it actually starts to work against you, to hurt you.
Debra Maldonado 06:06
When you say “mind”, can we talk about what the mind is in Jungian psychology, Jungian coaching? Because people think the mind is the brain, or thoughts. It's all part of it but it's not the whole picture.
Robert Maldonado 06:28
A simple definition is the brain is the hardware. Look at your computer, that's the brain, the wires, the metal, the glass, the screen that make up the computer. That's the brain, it's the physical housing, the part of the body that’s the physical expression of mind. The mind is the software, the programs that are running, the images and the meaning in those images. It's very different, you can’t define the meaning by looking at the computer, its hardware because the computer is just metal, glass, and wires.
Debra Maldonado 07:14
A good analogy is when you have a dream, your mind constructs these places, these people in these situations, what is it made of? It's not solid. It's non-solid energy or phenomenon we live with every day.
Robert Maldonado 07:40
It's hiding in plain sight. We often forget there's a mind behind our experience creating our experience itself. But the mind is what we're talking about. If we don't learn to work with it, it starts to act as an enemy towards us. Think of the mind as an incredible quantum computer that was delivered to your home without instructions. You have one of the most powerful objects in the universe. But you don't know what to do with it.
Debra Maldonado 08:23
Or your relative, your parents gave you this and told you how they used it. We're borrowing what we've been taught how to use our mind or how to be in the world and how to think about things.
Robert Maldonado 08:38
From neuroscience, from Eastern philosophy, from consciousness studies, we know now that this mind is the most incredible thing you can experience. You were given the biggest treasure in the universe. You are given it, there's no payment for it, there’s no charge for it, it’s free. It can do whatever you want it to do. It's limitless. But you need to know how to work with it because otherwise, it's going to act like an enemy. It's like that story you told me about the genie and the dog with the curly tail.
Debra Maldonado 09:29
It’s a great story about a man who said to the guru “I hear you can give me a genie.” The guru says “You don't want a genie.” The man is like “I want a genie so I can get all my wishes come true.” The guru says “I don't know if you're ready to have a genie.” The guy begged him, so he agreed but also said “You have to keep giving the genie something to create or it's going to hurt you, it’ll try to kill you. You have to always give it something to create, always give it something to give to you.” The guy is like “I have so many things I want to have, I'll never run out of things I want.” The guru says “If you run into trouble, find me because this is a big responsibility.” He takes the genie, the genie gives him a beautiful house, then the whole town. It goes on and on, he has everything, the most beautiful wife and kids, everyone loves him, he has money. Then he's like “I think I'm good.” The genie says “Give me more.” He's like "I don't need anything else.” The genie wants to kill him, he chases him saying “You have to give me something or I'm gonna kill you.” He gets the guru. The guru says “Find a dog with a curly tail. Cut off the tail. Give it to the genie and tell him ‘I want you to straighten out this tail’, and give him a brush.” The genie is like “I have something to do.” He straightened out the tail, but once he let it go, it curls up again. The genie always has something to do, at least he's busy. But if we're not creating actively in our life, our life is like that curly tail, it's always like “I'm creating something, but it goes back into place again. Creating something, trying to straighten out my life here or there but then it goes back in place.” We feel satisfied with that, but we are on this treadmill in life of recreating the same thing.
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Robert Maldonado 12:48
How do we do this? How do we start to work with our mind?
Debra Maldonado 12:55
And break that cycle. How do we use the desire to keep growing without making it a burden?
Robert Maldonado 13:05
There's an element we have to understand first. One is that we're working with higher knowledge in working with our mind, because the way we define higher knowledge and the way it's defined in some philosophies, is knowledge that teaches you about the true nature of self, awareness, consciousness. Lower knowledge is knowledge of the appearance of things, the objects of the world, other people and things we see, the multiplicity of experiences. Higher knowledge is the key. You need higher knowledge to understand “Who am I? What is the true nature of this experience I call my mind, my awareness? How do I discipline it?” Here's where a lot of people resist because they think discipline is restriction. We were all conditioned to think discipline means limitation, restriction. But it's paradoxical, it’s the opposite. Discipline of mind through higher knowledge means liberation of mind. It's the only way to free your mind. If you never work with it, if you think freedom and liberation is about doing anything I want and not applying myself in this particular direction in a disciplined way, it’ll only lead to you experiencing the mind as an enemy again. The mind itself will turn against you and hurt you.
Debra Maldonado 15:19
What you're saying is that when we're not disciplined or committed, the mind actually has the power and it's taking us for a ride. But when we discipline ourselves, we can actually discipline the mind. With the discipline and commitment, we're taking control, we're taking back the reins versus where we think freedom is doing everything we do. This is about taking the reins and disciplining the mind, not limiting our experience. But through disciplining the mind, we will be able to have freedom.
Robert Maldonado 15:57
Higher knowledge teaches us that the senses will drive the mind if you don't discipline it. The appearance of things will dominate your mind and drive you, compel you to act in a certain way. You will always be seeking that truth, that satisfaction, that happiness outside of yourself because the senses are pointing outward. We always want more. We think having more or particular things will make us happy and fulfilled.
Debra Maldonado 16:38
It’s like chasing a mirage. You don't have that discipline in the mind, you're just chasing these mirages of happiness that appear externally. Then you feel like you’re free, but you're not really free. You're tied to the delusion that the mind is playing with you.
Robert Maldonado 16:57
The difficulty, or the harmful consequences are not in the objects themselves. It's in our attitude towards them, our attachment and our false assumption that those things will make us happy. That's what hurts us. It's not that the mind is bad, or turning bad, or acting as an enemy just because we're not paying attention to it. It's that we're paying the wrong attention to things. We're thinking the external is real. This is where the Upanishads say “You mistake the unreal for the real, and the real for the unreal.”
Debra Maldonado 17:47
What keeps us trapped is that we’re not free to choose because the mind is choosing for us what to like, what we should be drawn to, how do we act even. Even in neuroscience, they discovered that we aren't even conscious of our own decisions. We think we're conscious of them but our brain has already processed eight seconds the decision before we're conscious of it. We're being run by this mind that is controlling us. That’s not freedom. It doesn't have a discipline. It's like letting a child drive your car, let a three-year-old decide “Ice cream store! Let's go and crash it.” It doesn't have the discipline, the structure, and the experience.
Robert Maldonado 18:45
Given the forces that are arrayed against us— they're not really against us, but the challenges we face that cause us to suffer, and given that the obstacle or the challenge that is in front of us as this mind, we need a discipline. We need a structure that takes us through that transformation to finding the true self, to arriving at the true conclusion of the nature of our true self. If we don't have that methodology, that system, we’ll waste most of our time because our life is not that long. We don't have a thousand years. At most, let's be generous, we have a hundred years to do this. If you do not use a discipline of methodology, of philosophy of self-realization, you’ll waste most of the time in trial and error. Therefore it's essential that you find a discipline that works for you. Again, remember, the Vedas are saying that all paths will lead you to the same place, you will find self-realization, but you have to follow that path. You can’t be digging shallow holes and expect to find water and create a deep well.
Debra Maldonado 20:27
I know for myself, the reason why people dig shallow holes is because this discipline in your spiritual beliefs, your philosophy takes courage, it's challenging at times. If we're not disciplined, we're gonna give up when things get hard. I really don't like this concept. I'm gonna go here. My mother used to call me a smorgasbord Catholic, you pick this, but you leave this behind. You’re having one religion, you're having this philosophy, and anytime it gets uncomfortable, the ego’s saying “Why don't you try that little magical workshop, they take all your problems away in one day.” You're looking for that one thing that's going to enlighten you, we're all looking for that quick fix, it's part of our culture, that instant gratification. Spiritual discipline is a longer process. It's telling us things we're not comfortable hearing. We want to dispel it, we want to find something that's easier to believe in. Then we end up not getting anywhere, because all that discomfort is actually leading us to transformation and to the next level. If we never hit that next level, we're bouncing around. We're not consciously trying to do this, the ego’s always like “Look over here, this fancy object over here, let me go grab it, it's going to be the answer to all my suffering.” We end up never really sticking to a plan. But that discovery is necessary. First, we have to dig some shallow holes and figure out what we believe in, who we are, have a direct experience. But then we have to commit. Usually, the time that we want to change is when things get hard. We have to be aware of that and that we're going to stick through this. “This is uncomfortable. I don't know if I believe it. Let me test it out” versus “I don't like this. Let me run and find something else.”
Robert Maldonado 22:41
Here we're not talking necessarily religion, although some religions are the carriers, the guardians of certain spiritual philosophies. But we are talking about these spiritual philosophies as methodologies of transformation. That is a way for the human being to be able to transcend their ego structure and the framework of their individuality. Every human being needs to do that initially because it gives you your sense of self, your identity, but at the same time, every individual has to transcend it somewhere in midlife. Midlife varies but at some point in your life, you have to be able to transcend it. Otherwise, you are locked into your personal conditioning. That’s a very claustrophobic, limiting way of existing. That's why people can't stand it, consciousness becomes a burden to them. They don't know what to do with a mind, they've acquired everything the world says you need to be happy, but they're unhappy. It's not enough, they want more, they think “Maybe if I get more, I'll be happy.” But they find that that's not happening.
Debra Maldonado 24:11
When you're digging shallow holes, your ego has always an out. It's always misleading, “It's something out there, something I'm going to get, or even ascend to a different level of awareness that is going to magically erase all my problems.” Jung's work is about integration. It's about how to integrate this human self with all its foibles, and then our true spiritual nature, how to live as a spiritual being in a human body. How do we integrate versus escape? The ego wants to escape all the time, it wants to find the next thing, abandon this one to go to the next one. You'll find that if it's not liberating you long term, if you feel like you're not being liberated, then probably you're either not disciplined on your path, or you're not going toward it fully. I like this part, but I don't like that part.
Robert Maldonado 25:16
When somebody asks you “How do I find, how do I choose that one path?”, what would you say?
Debra Maldonado 25:27
I would say you set the intention first that you're looking for a path for the rest of your life, something you can stick with. Deep inside of you somewhere is already that knowledge. You're asking yourself, you just set the intention that you're seeking it and meditate on it. Then there's something, it's hard to describe, but it's like your soul speaks to you in a way, as it has a resonance to it, this feels right.You get in touch with that first. Then when you go out looking, reading different spiritual books, there's something that makes your soul go “This is it.” When I read the Gita the first time, it was confusing, I didn't understand a lot of it, but there was something that made my soul go "There's something here.” It pulls you in, your soul is pulling you in. You don't have to do it all consciously, you can listen to yourself and your deeper self. The more intimate you are with yourself, the more you'll know that path is true. You’ll know it's not true if you're always in fear, anxiety, if the path feeds fear and anxiety in you, like something terrible is gonna happen if you don't do something right. That sounds more like an ego based philosophy versus that you're one with everything, you're powerful, the answers are inside of you. That sense of peace, that finding the deeper truth. How about you?
Robert Maldonado 27:17
We're going on the basis that the truth is called by many names, there is no right or wrong way to do it. It's what works for you. That's the incredible gift the universe has given us in giving us a mind. We're free to choose. But that's also the challenge because when we're free to choose, we like to pick and choose from many different traditions, that messes us up. We need to discipline our mind. Therefore, choosing that one path is important because of that reason.
Debra Maldonado 28:00
The fundamentals of what you want to believe at the core. Then those other things, the rituals and the path they're taking you on, it does that resonate with the core. One of our core is that everything is consciousness. If everything's consciousness, there's no separation, and anything that's dualistic feels not in alignment with that philosophy. Then you're not easily led into the storm of the mind saying “This sounds like a good idea. Let's try this.”
Robert Maldonado 28:36
There's a couple of principles that apply to all of us. One is that it is not about figuring it out. So many of us, because we're conditioned to think that cognition is the key to everything, if we understand it, if we figure it out, we'll be okay. This comes from the Upanishads themselves, it says “The mind cannot go there.” You can’t figure it out. It's not a formula, not an intellectual exercise that will get you there. We do need to think of course, we use the mind to take us to the edge of the river, but we have to cross the river. Without the mind, we have to leave it behind. That’s a big challenge for us, and that's precisely why we need a methodology. If we don't have a proper method, we'll find a reason not to give up the ego, not give up the mind, because there's a fear attached to it. It's an intense experience. But that's a universal principle. Almost all the true spiritual methods teach that it is not about figuring it out. It is about transcending your individual mind.
Debra Maldonado 30:09
If you know yourself intimately beyond the thoughts, pure awareness that's with you, your secret silent partner, that's like enjoying life without being tainted by it. The true self has already that knowledge. It's not like it's out there that you have to gain, it's more like to realize it's already there, and remember who you are. That's really the case. We’re so caught up in ego because we build up a persona, we need to do shadow work. Jung's path is really a great outline for individuation, how we find that path. But first we have to get our ego out of the way. You can't say “I’m just not gonna pay attention to my thoughts.” There's a process of facing your shadow, going through that transformation, and going into the deeper realms and aspects of yourself that are profound and wise, that are waiting for you to guide.
Robert Maldonado 31:14
We can say that Jungian psychology is the only psychology addressing this question. What is going on when an individual goes through a transformation we call spirituality? He says what happens is you de-identify with your persona, your ego, understanding the principle that you’re already the self, you have the treasure. A mind, awareness, or consciousness is the treasure you're looking for in the objects of the world. But it's already you, there's nothing you need to be doing, you're already enlightened,
Debra Maldonado 32:07
You just forgot, ego is covering it over. The wisdom and everything's already there. Your ego is covering it over. It's not “I have to go and do all these rituals and training to get to spiritual knowledge.” But we have to take our ego through the process to untie ourselves from the ego. It's not just wave a magic wand, call a genie up and say "Take all my problems away.” It's discipline to face the parts of ourself we pushed away, we've denied, we've rejected, and integrate them back in. Through that wholeness we get to see more of who we are versus “I need to get rid of things.” It's more “How do I integrate and stop pushing things away? How do I accept all of everything in life?” That's what wholeness is. It's not dropping pieces away. It's about bringing everything together. This is a great topic today. We hope you enjoyed this and please subscribe to our podcast, Soul Sessions with CreativeMind.
Robert Maldonado 33:25
See you soon.
Debra Maldonado 33:27
Thank you for joining us. Don't forget to subscribe to CreativeMinds Soul Sessions. Join us next week as we explore another deep topic where you can consciously create your life with CreativeMind Soul Session. See you next time.