“O lovely one, aren’t you suffocating by this narrow tomb?
Come, arise from the depths of your heart!
You are alive and born of the living.”
Here in these lines Rumi tells us to arise from the depth of our hearts and this essence of our being is the truth and the foundation. Rumi calls us to break out of our pattern, this narrow suffocating tomb, and rise from the depths of our heart where the joy of our being brings a new breath of fresh air to our mind.
As we just saw in the last chapter “I AM” is the truth of our inner being and the only real and solid foundation in this universe. Therefore, to come out of or to let go of your pattern of thinking and behavior, what is needed is a return to your being.
This is the core universal path of all religions and spiritual traditions called many things as: resurrection, salvation, liberation, spiritual regeneration or rebirth, and the homecoming. For your inner being – “I AM” – to be reborn you need to let go of or let your patterns of thinking and behavior die. This symbolic death and rebirth has been the universal method of spiritual regeneration since before recorded time and what it means is for your inner “I AM” to break through the patterns that have covered up your being.
The regeneration of your true being is your protection against madness because it returns you to the source of your being by letting the madness die: “The ritual embrace of death is a protection, not against death but against madness.”
While some traditions cover this universal path of spiritual regeneration up in ritual and mysticism, and foolishly claim their path is the only path, this regeneration is quite simple. All it is in essence is your reconnection with yourself – the source that sustains you – the breakthrough is simply the “I AM” break out of your being.
In fact, many people are naturally connected to themselves, feel good about themselves and rest with confidence in their inner being. This is neither rocket science nor ‘religious’ or ‘spiritual’ as such – it is simply being. Also many people who do not label themselves as religious or spiritual use jogging, working out or walking in nature, to the same effect and without any need for what I am about to talk about.
Personally, I used to do a lot of sports and even though I know it’s healthy now as a philosopher I spent my time growing and writing. But I do take walks to change the energy and enjoy myself. I like walking as it adds new experience and freshness to the mind. And this is the point about doing something, doing an activity. The key is to get out of your mind, let go of your thinking and just be.
If you feel locked in your pattern of thinking and behavior you can try this out yourself. Just the simple action of getting up from where you are and entering something new is a form of spiritual regeneration. You can start by getting up and going to a park or café and then continue to read this book in this new setting. The simple fact that you did something – took action – and got out of your mind for a moment will bring a fresh feeling to your mind.
Actually, as I am writing this I just moved from inside to sit outside. As keeping up a pattern takes a heavy load of thinking, so too does writing, and I like to change my place of work just to change the energy with it. Now, sitting outside the sun is shining, the birds are singing and my environment has changed. This is really a new and nice experience that fills my spirit with joy.
This of course also works with a travel. A weekend in nature or a city break in some new place you have not seen before can work wonders as a breath of fresh energy and thus work like a spiritual regeneration. And especially if its winter and you don’t feel to be outside where you are, it could also be good to treat yourself to a travel to the sun. As a child of spring born in April, January is my favorite month of travel as it breaks my winter in two and a week of sun can feed me energy till April.
I would also say that a good party or a festival can do wonders. Born in 1972, I still love festivals in the summer because I see the expression of joy and togetherness as a deeply spiritual thing. Also if you look at tribal cultures and their dance you will recognize this spiritual aspect as well.
However, the answer may not always be an escape as sometimes our pain is calling on us to look within and embrace our emptiness. This is what we went through in chapter five where if the emptiness inside is too great the only path to healing is to embrace the night.
If you feel the need to look in this direction or if your pattern is really big and heavy, both religion and spirituality are great ways to guide you towards a spiritual regeneration. All traditions have rituals and practices that are specifically designed to guide you there, and usually you will also find it very helpful to be around other people that are going in the same direction.
In Christianity, I have found that simply going to church on Sunday is a good dose of resurrection as the spirit and energy of a church will inspire you to connect with the Spirit of God within you. After the service is finished there is a natural regeneration of joy, love and well being that flows from the Spirit inside.
I have also found pilgrimage very powerful. The contemplation and meditation of a long walk is just as powerful a spiritual regeneration as most other form of practice that I have encountered in my life. Although I have not gone myself, I have many friends who have gone to Camino de Santiago in Spain and other places returning with powerful stories of rebirth and divine inspiration.
Most of my spiritual travels have been directed at India, but I understand how any journey or pilgrimage has great potential of opening up your spiritual connection to God. Also what many people experience, including myself, is that such journeys undertaken free you from the limitation of your everyday life whereby you surrender yourself to the mystery and fall into the hands of God.
At the end of such a journey, not only can we find spiritual regeneration but also encounter our destiny and true purpose in life. I would not have been writing this book had I not traveled to India the first time by accident or at least coincidence. If you believe in destiny then this is what destiny is. It calls you and when you answer great new things can happen.
Being or coming back home, I also think that yoga is a great practice. The physical exercises in yoga have been specifically designed to free the energy flow of your body and reconnect you with the source through your crown chakra. Also as meditation is part of this practice, you can find that it is a great introduction to meditation. There are yoga centers in most places and all it takes to find one is google or a phone book.
Besides traveling to India, I have also done shamanic vision quests for many years and I have done this ritual in many places. I have come to really love and respect this ritual, dating back more than 40,000 years, due to its simplicity and power.
Through a walk in nature, I feel the natural spiritual regeneration that reconnecting with nature provides. This is the same during a vision quest where the time spent fasting in nature is a return to our source. How this works is very simple: the truth is being and by being in nature, we return to being. And fasting is added to this simplicity in order to weaken the ego and help us surrender to the source of being.
This is exactly what Jesus did when he spent forty days and nights in the desert and returned in the “power of spirit.” There is a strong connection between our inner essence, our spirit, and the spirit of nature and the universe. The moon is evidence of this as women and the tides of the seas follow its circle. Also, if you are aware like me, you can feel your own energy and need to sleep increase and decrease according to the cycle of the moon.
I wish to say something about doing vision quest and spiritual practice in general. Even though I have done up to four days of fasting, I am not talking about the kind of “spiritual warrior” sweat lodge that cost the lives of three people and got James Arthur Ray in trouble because he used plastic to cover the lodge.
The power of this ritual has to be respected, especially by westerners, but it is also important to understand that spiritual power is based on love and not ego or fear. By recommending spiritual practices I also wish to make a warning that not all things are as good as they look on the surface.
Many places think and act like a sect, which can be cozy but also cut you off from your own direct and independent connection to God – your true nature within. It’s important to remember that what you are looking for is not the history or intolerance of a tradition but your own inner truth.
Then you also do have your gurus and spiritual warriors that like to beat up on people. This I experienced on one of my first meditation retreats with an American self-proclaimed enlightened guru, whose name I will shorten to A.C. In his books that I unfortunately did not read before, he talks about enlightenment as “a sword” and his favorite passage in the Bible is when Jesus turns over the tables of the money changers in from of the temple.
It’s not that I do not practice the sharp edge of truth or tough love in my life and politics, but using a sword in both religion and spirituality can cause pain and bring out the worst. What he did on his retreat was to beat on people’s ego so that the fear or pain would make it come out, and then once the ego came out, he would say: look there is the ego and make everyone laugh at you.
What exactly the spiritual benefit to the person who gets beaten up in front of a whole mob was, I could not figure out and it was when I had to break out of silence to bring back a person close to losing her mind that the seriousness of his practice became clear to me. The idea that enlightenment or God has to hurt is a very misguided spiritual or religious belief as the golden rule applies to everything, especially spirituality.
I am telling you this in the event that you are searching or thinking about walking a spiritual path. It’s a supermarket out there and while shopping around can bring you valuable lessons like the ones I have learned, still you need to be responsible and sure that you trust the person you ask to guide you. This is a responsibility that works both ways and you need to love and respect yourself on your journey.