People come to spirituality for all kinds of different reasons…
You… Me… And everyone else…
We all have hopes about what spirituality will do for us.
About all the ways that it will change our lives.
But it’s important to have the right expectations. And go into it for the right reasons.
Because even though spirituality touches every aspect of our existence—it’s not the solution to every problem.
It’s not always the best answer.
And it doesn’t help to pretend that it is…
And I know that this doesn’t apply to everyone…
But I think it’s something that all of us need to hear.
So setting aside for a moment, things like consciousness and contemplation and exploring other worlds… Let’s talk about more immediate concerns…
Let’s talk about love and money.
It’s astonishing how many spiritual retreats are actually about making money.
You get a few token comments about subtle energy and authenticity and connection…
And then out come the prosperity circles, and affirmations of wealth, and the vision boards. Full of mansions and yachts and expensive cars and tropical cabanas… all lovingly cut from a magazine.
It’s all about the need for financial security.
Which actually, is fine on the money side of it… There’s nothing wrong with having money.
We all need money.
But it’s a good example of spirituality not being the best solution…
If money is what you really need most right now, then you’d be much better served by being honest about where your focus is.
And doing a retreat on lean startups… Or marketing… Or joining a mastermind group of passionate entrepreneurs…
The return on your time and effort will be way higher. And you might actually make some money!
The same thing with finding a relationship.
That’s the number 2 spiritual agenda…
Which is also fine… More than fine actually!
But if you want love and companionship… Again, you’re in the wrong place.
If finding love is the priority, then you’re better off working on your social skills, and learning how to flirt.
Do a retreat on being more visible and vulnerable and becoming a better lover.
There are better places to learn about love and money.
But… that’s what we need…
We need love and money.
We actually need all kinds of things…
Maslow made a whole big thing about it.
Food and shelter and safety and sex…
Community and money and connection and love…
We have an entire hierarchy of needs…
All these things that need to be addressed as we work our way to the top of the pyramid.
Before we really find ourselves.
What Maslow called self-actualization.
It’s where you find your purpose. Find freedom from your wounds.
And become the powerful and self-assured person that you’re destined to become.
It’s the big dessert at the end of the meal.
But most of us are still struggling to meet other needs…
We’re still on meat and potatoes.
We still need love and money.
We’re also hopeful…
And spirituality is an easy thing to hang our hopes on.
Spirituality is supposed to be this universal thing…
That connects everything to everything else. And responds to fill the lack in our lives.
That’s the pitch anyway…
And so we hope that the world might do the work for us.
Save us from the scary parts.
Because if we could just win the lottery… Then we wouldn’t have to be brave.
We wouldn’t have to put ourselves out there.
If we could just find our true love…
Or better yet… A safe love!
A nice cozy, codependent lover who will embrace our mask…
Who won’t call us on our shit… Or expect us to do any of the terrifying, growing things that we know we’ll fall down on…
Then we’d feel much better about where we’re at.
We just want a place that feels safe…
(Another need btw.)
And we want spirituality to provide it.
Unfortunately, that’s not what it is…
Spirituality doesn’t make you safe.
It doesn’t make the world safe.
It doesn’t make love safe.
And despite all the smiling happy people who want to sell you the super-hidden Secrets of manifesting money—it also isn’t going to make you rich.
When you get right down to it, spirituality doesn’t really do much for any of the lower levels in our hierarchy of needs…
Kind of a bitch really…
But that’s just not what it’s about.
What spirituality does help with is self-actualization.
In fact, spirituality might just be the best possible path to meeting our higher level needs.
It isn’t about soup and salad. Or money and sex and safety.
It’s about uncovering the raw and precious parts of yourself.
Having the courage to bring them out into the light. And the confidence to share them with the people around you.
It’s about taking your mask off and showing the world what you really have to offer.
It’s about discovering your gift. And nurturing it.
Healing the places that you think aren’t worth loving… The places that never have been loved…
By you, or anyone else.
And finding your place in the universe.
And the thing is… that’s what you ultimately need.
Not money and sex and safety.
Because if you don’t live up to who you are…
If you don’t become the person you were truly meant to be…
Then all the rest doesn’t really mean anything.
Death is on the horizon.
And if you get there still burdened by unfulfilled promise and potential…
Then that lifetime of money and safety won’t have amounted to much.
Which is basically just a really heavy way of saying…
Dessert is what matters.
Dessert First for Dinner
The funny thing is, we really want the world to help us.
We want to feel like the universe has our backs.
And we’ll go through contortions to believe that there are Secret laws of nature helping us along.
But the universe isn’t going to help us with everything.
Sucks. But it isn’t going to help us with most of the things that we need…
(That’s not actually the funny part… Just hang on. I’m getting there…)
The universe doesn’t give a shit about our next round of bills.
There is no divine impetus to wealth.
That’s the politically correct term these days.
But there’s no divine impetus to that either.
There’s an impetus to wholeness.
There’s an impetus to growth.
And bullshit scary transformation.
There’s an impetus to let your fears out of the basement. To uncoil your wounds.
To be vulnerable and bare your heart.
There’s an impetus to risk.
There’s an impetus to self-actualization.
The world won’t help you eat your vegetables.
You’re on your own for that.
The world wants to get you straight to the good stuff.
And that’s the funny part…
While we struggle to find love and sex and safety… And make ends meet…
The universe is busy trying to feed us dessert!
It’s the ultimate irony.
A lifetime of being told to do our chores and clean our plates…
And the universe is smiling and winking in the corner—and waving a piece of cake!
So why not focus on dessert first?
I’ve never been a big fan of doing what’s expected…
And given that you’re here, you probably aren’t either…
But this isn’t about being randomly rebellious.
Sometimes dessert is just the more practical answer.
Even when you’re still working on the meat and potatoes that are getting cold on the plate in front of you…
Because self-actualization makes things like love and money a whole lot easier to come by.
Sometimes when we don’t have love or money, it’s because we don’t have our shit together in other ways…
As much as we might wish that things were different, we don’t receive love and money as innate rewards for being human.
We find them (or not) because of what we have to give.
And what we ultimately have to give… is ourselves.
When you focus on dessert, you are creating something of value within yourself.
And the more you do it—the more you develop those precious parts of yourself—the more you’ll have to offer.
And the more that you have to offer the world… the more that you’ll find love.
And the more money you’ll make.
Because you make money by providing something of value to someone who doesn’t have it.
And in many respects, love is the same way…
Nobody needs your mask.
Everyone else already has one. And yours doesn’t fit.
It isn’t worth anything to anyone.
…except to that safe, codependent lover. (And they’re never as nourishing as they let on.)
So, who would you be if you took it off?
Who would you be if you got to work on the shit that actually matters?
Who would you be if you weren’t holding back?
If you lived up to your potential?
Become that person.
Become the consummate professional who glides through pressure with confidence and grace…
Become the creative visionary who sees things in a way that no one ever has…
Become the deep and mysterious lover who plays body, mind and soul like exquisite musical instruments…
Become who you really are.
That person is already pacing anxiously inside you… looking for a way out.
You just have to let it.
And that’s what spirituality really has to offer.
So what is it that you want?
Do you want a quarter an hour raise at work? Do you want some more money without doing anything too scary?
Yes! Of course you do!!
It’ll still be scary… But at least you’ll make some damn money!
Do you want to meet someone you connect with? Have mind blowing sex?
Stupid question, right?
Fuck yeah you do!!
Learn to flirt.
Learn to play.
You’ll discover more opportunities than you know what to do with.
But here’s the thing…
Those are all just preludes to something sweeter.
And that’s the part that matters!
You just have to decide what your priorities are.
The universe is still grinning in the corner…
Let it help you where it can.
Start a contemplative practice. Even if you aren’t a “spiritual” person.
It isn’t about finding love or money, or the person you’re meant to be with.
It’s about finding the person that YOU are meant to be.
It’s about feeling calm and strong and confident and capable—even when you don’t have love or money.
Because you’ll have something deeper than that…
And the more you have of that…
Well, you get the point.
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About Zach Herbert
I teach people to do cool things with their consciousness, and break their brains with beautiful ideas.
Professional heretic. Unlikely mystic. Host to rebels, misfits and independent thinkers.
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