In recent years we have seen a proliferation of teachings which potentially herald a deeply spiritual human future. This human future, somewhat paradoxically, will be lived by those souls whose consciousness is deeply embedded within the peace, joy and wisdom of the present moment.
The essence of these emerging truthful spiritual teachings is that human beings who are grounded in presence have access to great peace and great spiritual power. They are written and spoken by wise spiritual masters, and grounded in the wisdom of lived experience.
During the 1960s and 1970s there was a shift in spiritual awareness in western humanity. Many people began to see that spirituality could be embodied without the need for religious indoctrination. The awareness that individuals have direct, unfettered access to the divine became more widespread. An important part of this movement was an increased social conscience, as well as an increased desire for social activism – witnessed most notably in protest movements. There was a sense that this spirituality could be part of lived experience, part of greater society.
This expanded consciousness, however, also created certain aberrations. These included some new age teachings, some self-help literature, various cults, conspiracy theory culture and so on.
Certain activists came to believe that the human world was just so lost that we should avoid participating in it altogether. Some turned to drugs, altered states of consciousness, lucid dreaming and so on as a means to escape the pain of living in the modern world. Timothy Leary’s famous dictum that we should “Turn on, tune in, drop out” was perhaps the best expression of this, particularly in the way that many interpreted it.
Even as human consciousness expanded, a deeper distrust of humanity accompanied it. Spiritual optimism and worldly pessimism became strange bedfellows.
Today, as I write this book in 2014, we retain many of the elements of this collective tension within human consciousness.
Such a development is not “wrong”. It is merely part of our collective development.
However, current common misunderstandings represent a distortion of spirituality as imposed by the mind (or ego). And one of the biggest problems is that – unconsciously – many spiritual teachings have instilled a sense of “us versus them” and cut us off from the world, society and other people.
Such teachings can exacerbate the state of separation which lies at the heart of much human suffering.
Tension and resolution
There is an innate “evolutionary” drive within the human psyche to return to a state of wholeness. When we deviate from our true nature of peace and love, a tension arises within us, both individually and collectively. This acts as kind of automatic balancing mechanism. The tension seeks resolution.
So it is that in the early years of the twenty-first century we saw another shift in human consciousness – the mindfulness movement. This essentially spiritual approach to life has introduced several key distinctions into greater awareness, and they are helping to offset the aforementioned collective tension created in the wake of 60s counter-culture.
The first distinction is the understanding that life is only ever lived in the present moment, and that this is where life’s true joy and prosperity reside. The past is only ever a memory, the future only ever an act of imagination.
Another distinction brought forward by the mindfulness movement is that of a greater understanding of the nature of the human ego. We are now far more aware of the many ways in which the ego tends to distort the world, the self and the spiritual journey
Importantly, it is now more widely understood that the ego does not need to be eliminated in order to live a spiritually aligned life (though this concept is often misinterpreted).
Finally, the mindfulness movement has helped many advanced souls ground spirituality in lived experience. It has helped bring spirituality into the world and into modern life.
However, this final step has not yet been fully completed. The tension has not been completely resolved for many of us.
For even as the wave of mindfulness has descended, it has been met with an even greater wave of “opposition” – trends which run counter to it.
In particular, we have seen an increased commoditisation of education, increased materialism and increased individualism.
The rise of the internet, mobile technology and social media is also highly problematic. Many IT addicts live in a constant state of distraction, separated from the world, from the body and from society.
Concurrently, an increasingly aggressive mass media continues to bombard us with violence and depravity, making our lives ever-more complex, ever-more distracted, ever-more fearful.
We have also witnessed a greater sophistication in advertising; as well as the widespread manipulation of people by governments and other organisations with agendas for power and control over the population. These developments mean that we have to find ways to remain grounded and aware. We need to develop the ability to intuit truth from lie.
And we must be able to stand in our God-given power as men and women.
Adding to the angst of the modern spiritual practitioner is the literal opposition of skeptics organisations, conservatives within scientific and educational establishments, and religious narrow mindedness. Such opposition necessitates a requirement for the spiritually-inclined to avoid being drawn into anger and drama with these people. We need to remain centered and at peace.
Therefore the mindful and the spiritually-inclined people of today are required to be able to embody mindfulness and soulfulness in a hectic and complex modern world.
How can we deal with such a world and retain our state of mindful spirituality. Our equanimity?
How can we shine our light amidst so much darkness?
That is the question that Champion of the Soul, Master of the Mind sets out to answer.
Many of the teachers that I have worked with and learned from (either personally or by reading their books or watching their online material) are truly wonderful. People like Leonard Jacobson and Eckhart Tolle represent the highest understanding of spiritual expression. They are people of great wisdom and integrity.
Their teachings can be truly liberating.
Yet there is a limitation to their teachings, one that is no fault of their own.
They are spiritual teachers, and so do not have to deal with many of the problems that everyday life brings forth for you and me. While spiritual masters certainly deal with many challenges, they work mostly with advanced souls who have a strong motivation to awaken from the dark world of the mind. And their advanced level of consciousness means that they do not have to deal with the kinds of daily problems encountered by an average person.
Champion of the Soul, Master of the Mind is written to bring advanced spiritual teachings into everyday life. This book is for people who have at least some awareness of the journey of mindful presence, but who seek a more practical application in their lives.
There are twelve domains of life which can readily take us out of presence and away from peace. Each represents a potential loss of personal power. To be a champion of the soul, you have to learn to master each of them.
- How to work in the world of time without becoming lost in imagined futures or the self-limiting stories of the past.
- How to develop the right relationship with the ego without harmfully repressing it.
- How to develop the right relationship with – and heal – your emotional pain; the wounded child within.
- How to come to a deeper awareness of what karma really is, and how to release it.
- How to develop profound intuition without getting lost in the murky worlds of the psychic.
- How to become a master of loving relationships, without giving your power away to others.
- How to appreciate and love the wonders of science and the rational mind, while at the same time fully appreciating the limits of reason.
- How to live in modern society, and to learn to love and accept it and the human species for what they are – darkness and all.
- How to harness the power of the internet and social media without becoming a slave to disembodied distraction.
- How to remain present and at peace despite the extreme negativity of modern mass media.
- How to be truly abundant regardless of your bank account.
- How to live your calling and your life at its highest expression, while fully acknowledging the realities of the market place.
Yes, it is possible to be in this world, love in this world and to love the world itself.
It is possible to be here, be in the present moment, and to be joyful.
It is possible to fully participate in life and society. You can be of service to our species.
And you can embody your innate spiritual power without giving it away to others.
In short, you can be a champion of the soul.
Such an experience of life represents the next step on our spiritual journey.
On your spiritual journey.
This post is an extract from the introduction of my book Champion of the Soul, Master of the Mind. The book is not yet released, and I am yet to decide if and when I might publish it. In fact, this is the first time I have ever told anyone about it, either in private or publicly. Feel free to comment on the idea.
The essential focus of this book is how to bring spiritual practice – and in particular mindful presence – into our lives in the modern world. And in doing so, how we can express genuine spiritual power in the world.
Note: Both the terms “champion of the soul” and “master of the mind” were first used by spiritual teacher Leonard Jacobson (www.leonardjacobson.com). However, although my book is deeply inspired by Leonard’s teachings (and others’), it is not meant to be specifically representative of his work.