I likened the diversity of those on the path to growth as a spectrum. On the one end there are those new to the path of spiritual growth and on the other, those who have been on said path for a very long time. As I thought about the diversity of people on the spectrum I remembered to bear in mind that all people, no matter where they are on said spectrum, are at once teachers and students, and what they do with that is up to them. It was that fact that made me question what spiritual growth is in the first place. As it is an individual path, social networking can be a help or a hindrance depending on how the individual uses the internet and all it has to offer. It brings to mind a quote;
“The internet is light at the end of the tunnel…it is creating a global society”
– Terrence McKenna
As much as the path to spiritual growth is individual, so too is the way in which people use tools to that growth, the internet being one of them. I bring up the internet and its use as that is where I have met many people that fit into the various places on the spectrum I mentioned above. As it turns out, when you live in a small town, or even in a city, the topic of spiritual growth and the theories that accompany such discussions tend to not be commonplace in the real, physical world, it just doesn't come up. The internet provides many forums for those who look to have discussions of this nature.
One problem with the internet is that there is no accountability and to be honest, almost too much information. I have watched the way the internet has changed how people communicate and how words are used to that end. So much is being re-defined and so many are going with the, “Well that is the way I define it” attitude that it is difficult to know whether or not one is on the same page with another. Often two people agree but end up arguing anyway over a word and two different ways to define it that basically mean the same thing. The focus ends up being on a word, usually taken out of context, rather than on an entire theory. Context is lost, meaning is lost and true communication is blocked much to the detriment of the people involved who may have otherwise stood to learn more about others and about themselves.
Folks newer to the path of growth can find just about anything online. The internet is a place of manifesting precisely what one wants. One can find someone to agree with them regarding any theory under the sun and it will lead them to more people and websites that also agree with them, this takes challenge out of the equation and it is challenges to our systems that provide a necessary stepping stone to growth. The same goes with people who have been on their path for a long, long while. Being who I am I never thought I would see words or information as being detrimental rather than helpful but alas, that day has come to pass. It saddens me and yet again, the information and words are just there, it is what we do with them that shape things and that is an individual choice.
And so I come back to the spectrum and begin with the one end, the end where you get people who are very new to their path and have perhaps fallen into a rut. As mentioned, they may have found information online that goes with what they already intrinsically believe. They find others, kindred spirits if you will, that agree with them and they end up getting stuck, like a snake in a wagon rut, in a rigid set of beliefs. This isn’t to say that one cannot grow spiritually by adhering to one path, indeed one can progress quite far in doing so. One thing to bear in mind is that spirituality isn’t a field where there is a final destination, it is an ongoing journey. You don’t graduate, get your papers and then have done with it.
The two ends of the spectrum are just the ends, there is an entire middle that is rich with diversity and people as well as theories that are all valid and all promote growth should one be open to it. Stagnation, as it turns out, is an individual choice just as growth is. Consider the spectrum to be a straight line, one extreme on one end, and the other extreme at the other end. One end would have those new to their path, just beginning their journey and facing many challenges and obstacles. At the other end would be those who have walked their path for a long time, perhaps even to the point of it being more like a treadmill, where there is much walking but no movement forward or back.
As it turns out, a line can be made into a circle if the two ends should meet and that point where they meet is where you have people who are more alike than even they would like to think. One new to a path might adhere so rigidly to it that they see no growth only rigid adherence to what they believe to be their ultimate truth along with those who have been on their path for so long they believe it to be their one true way. Both adhere so rigidly to their new or well-practiced ways that growth is stunted.
There are also people who pay heartily for titles and position within their groups and figure that since they have paid for the documentation to prove it, they are better, more knowledgeable and more valid than others. Of course this attitude doesn’t only apply with those who have titles and documentation that they have purchased, it also applies to people who have studied very hard and worked very hard for a long time to get where they are but then got trapped in the hierarchy. The main difference between the two are that one of them paid with money and the other paid with energy, either way, both have given away their power, their energy, to the hierarchy. On the one end of the spectrum, the growth is halted by knowing little and believing the first resonant thing that comes along so whole-heartedly that there are blinders on. On the other end of the spectrum growth is halted by the belief that they can advance no further.
I feel compelled to stress again that there is no such thing as a position on the spectrum that equates perfection and anyone who believes there is will only find stagnation there and possibly someone asking for your credit card number. Perfection itself is a form of stagnation and it is impossible with regard to spiritual growth. Think of nature, there is a cycle to growth in nature and it is the same cycle that a true seeker of spiritual growth is on. It is a cycle of birth and death; the death of old ideas that no longer serve us and the birth of new ideas and attitudes that promote our growth for the next cycle.
If spiritual growth is meant to lead to enlightenment then by all means, make it a goal to achieve it, but know this, enlightenment isn’t something one can achieve and hold on to. The only way that could happen is in a totally stagnant place of being. Enlightenment and the circumstances that surround feeling it are in constant flux. Enlightenment comes in moments, it comes for short periods of time meant to be treasured and remembered. Perpetual enlightenment would be exhausting as it is a state of being at one with spirit and we do not live in a spirit world, we live in a physical one. Walking a path that brings us as close to a balance between them is the path of one seeking spiritual growth, especially if we have the tenacity to walk it with humility and respect for ourselves and others.