Primal spirituality is the spirituality we were born with, before anybody taught us anything, before we ever went to church, before we ever tried to be spiritual or religious or good. It is our innate knowing of who we are and what life is all about.
The myth of spirituality, told in all kinds of ways, is that you have to be really, really good to be spiritual, and you have to try really, really hard to be spiritual, or religious, or holy. None of that is true. The myth of spirituality is also that it is only a very special person who becomes spiritual, whatever conception a person might have of what that might mean, whether it is from a Western perspective or an Eastern perspective, whether it has to do with reincarnation or going to heaven as opposed to the other place, or whether it has to do with enlightenment.
The truth is that we all have with us all the time—somewhere in the background of consciousness at least, if not in the foreground—an awareness of the Divine. For most people that awareness is more or less dismissed as being irrelevant in their life. Spiritual awareness does not come primarily through thought—which is one of the reasons it is missed. When we think of having conversations with God, as a recent book series spoke of spiritual awareness, we think of something that comes in literal thought forms—a conversation in words. But the reality of the Divine is talking to us all the time, and it is present with us all the time through the many layers of the emotional body. Within the emotional body there is constant awareness of the Divine. God speaks to us through the heart.
I took a walk this morning on Green Ridge behind Sunrise Ranch, where I live. As I did, many of the creative endeavors in which I am involved drifted through consciousness—projects and people, programs and money. I thought of my concerns about how those things are going and, as I did, I had this thought: I really don’t care. As I smelled the early autumn air and enjoyed seeing the small cacti, the granite rocks and the pines, I felt deeply in touch with all Creation. I felt the largeness of Being that is manifesting through Creation, and I felt how I am a part of it. Then I thought about all the important things in my life for which I feel oh so responsible. And I thought again, I don’t care.
There is probably a part of all of us that just doesn’t care. Isn’t that true for you? In the midst of all the important things in your life, can you get in touch with that reality of your Being that just doesn’t care? I’m not saying that we don’t have to be practical and live in the human world and all it contains. And, like most people, when bad things happen I don’t like it. It can be painful. I work hard to do my part to contribute to what is being created around me. But there is a part of me, and I believe a part of all of us, that is in touch with the Divine that transcends the human world. Part of us knows the Divine and knows that everything is changing and evolving just as it should be. And that part of us is unconcerned about what is happening in the human world. At that level of our Being, we are just happy to be alive and to be. That experience is the root of our primal spirituality.
Uranda, who wrote Seven Steps to the Temple of Light, had a way of naming this truth. He named it as a stance in living to be practiced: “None of these things move me.” It is a good practice for us as a human being, but it is also the reality of our Being. There is a dimension of who we are that truly doesn’t care, and that is simply glad to be alive.
When I was ten years old, there was a gravel pit on the other side of the Saugatuck River, where I grew up in Connecticut. Friends and I swam across the river and dug into the mountains of silt that the excavation equipment had piled high. We created six foxholes, as we called them, into the side of those small mountains. Then we wanted to connect them—first one, then two, then three, then…the silt above us caved in around me. Fortunately, my feet were sticking out into the air, and there was a pocket of air around my head. I thrashed my legs furiously. At the same time, I thought to myself in the coolest and calmest of ways, I thought my life was going to be longer than this. There was part of me that cared greatly about what was happening. But there was also a part of me that didn’t care. My friends grabbed my legs and pulled me out of the silt. Then I assisted them to pull out the friends around me. No one died. Better yet, my parents didn’t find out until years later. And I had a vivid experience as a boy of my primal spirituality.
We live within this human body of so many pounds and of whatever height. We live within a pattern of thought and feeling. So it sometimes feels to us like we’re living within our brain and then seeing everything from there. Or within our emotional body. There is a vastness to who we are that is not defined and limited by our physical, mental and emotional dimensions. I know that we all have to deal with the practical things of life. We invest the vastness of who we are into those dimensions. We invest our vastness into the time we have on earth in this human lifetime. But just because we do that does not mean that those realities define us. Isn’t there a part of you that is far larger than the dimensions of your human capacity? I believe that if you check it out, you will find that there is, already present in your consciousness, an awareness of yourself that is not defined by your human life.
It was easy to think that, walking up on Green Ridge this morning. Among the pine trees and the boulders, the birds and the bear scat, I was just being. I was being in my human body but I was also in everything. And I was just being. If you are willing to stop and think about it, who you are being isn’t so much about your personality and it’s not about your everyday life. You’re just Being. And the Being who you are is Being in everything. That is the way it is for babies and young children. They are just Being. And if you can recall your own experience as Being as a child, it wasn’t just that you were learning to be in your body and to navigate your body. You were also just Being.
By the very nature of Being, it is within everything. Without becoming esoteric about it, there is an awareness of Being within us all that is not just about the human being we are, but is about the Beingness of all Creation. We are everyplace. At the same time, we are specifically right here. But the Being who we are feels unlimited, does it not?
It is quite a step to come to terms with the longevity of our human lifetime. Early on in life, one’s own death is far enough away that you don’t have to think about it much. I know that is how it was for me. It is out there someplace and for somebody to worry about, mostly adults. As a child, you are just Being. That feels very natural and normal to a child. But as the child grows older, they become aware of the reckoning point of their own death, and now the natural sense of just Being begins to be crammed into a human life span.
Living in our primal spirituality, that’s not a problem. Yes, we’re living in our bodies and we’re living over our lifetime. But we are Being in every moment. You have got to work to cut off that awareness. You’ve got to work to not live that way. You’ve got to try not to live that way, to stuff yourself into those seventy years, or however long you think your life will be, and deal with that reckoning point. You have to work to cut off the part of you that doesn’t care about all the human concerns.
In Western culture, we make the virtuous part of being human the stuffing of ourselves into the human lifetime. That’s virtuous; that’s being real. And we take the part of us that’s large and grand and just is, and we call that being a dreamer, or we call that being an airhead, or being out of touch. I say it’s the most real thing about us, and that it’s possible to live our whole lives being that and creating from that reality—and that in fact we create much more practically, much more powerfully, and with unimaginable magic when we are creating from an awareness of that reality. Life is grand when we embrace our primal spirituality without buying into the distress that is created by attempting to fit all of the vastness of our Being into our human life.