The Spiritual Journey Part 3 - The Idols on Your Altar

The third part of our journey begins the process of looking at one’s ‘self’. Who are you? What gets you motivated and excited about life? What are the parts about your ‘self’ that you like? What are the parts about your ‘self’ that you dislike? What are the things in life you place a great deal of importance on? What are the things you think you need in order to be complete, happy, and content? What are the things that are missing from your life and are to blame for your unhappiness, your discontent and your feelings of incompleteness? When you arrive at the answers to the last few questions, you will have an idea of what is really important to you; the things that you think would make your life better if only you had them. You will know what the idols on your altar are. The things that believe hold some kind of power, and if you only had that power, you could be what you think you should be.

We live in a culture that is fueled by an attitude of success and failure. Success is usually attached to wealth, and failure is associated with a lack of. The more you have, the better you must be. It’s a culture of pass or fail. Have and have not. A person’s worth is also measured by the things that they have done right, or the things they have done wrong. The ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ change depending on who is asked of course, and the people who do ‘wrong’ need to be removed from the people who do ‘right’, and if their ‘wrong’ has been determined to be 'wrong' enough, they deserve to be isolated from those who do 'right' and severely punished. Those who pass the tests of the majority are rewarded for their efforts, and those who fail are ostracized and left behind. The people who have been left behind and the people who believe for whatever reason that they too have been left behind and belong in the ‘have nots’ category, think the ‘haves’ have no problems and are living a life of everlasting bliss, and the ‘haves’ do their darndest to appear as if their lives are all wonder and joy!

Some people believe we live in a free world where everyone can be whoever and whatever they want to be, and if they just work hard enough, they too can have all they desire. Is it true that everyone has an equal opportunity to create the life they want anytime they want? Yes, but for most, there is a catch. Before a person can create the life they want, they need the proper tools, and they need to know what they are really capable of. The catch is, a person can’t learn what they are capable of unless they are challenged. Challenges are the difficult life experiences that a person comes through – key word being ‘through’ – and from which they gain something valuable. They learn something about themselves that could never be bought. This is how a person gathers the tools they need to change their idea about themselves from a ‘have not’ to a ‘have’. These difficult life lessons are the very things that show a person who they really are.

Human beings are competitive. The desire to win – to be on top is in everyone – even in the people who claim they don’t care. The people who say they don’t care but complain all the time about their life, have just given up trying and accepted the label someone else gave them. Survival is a natural human instinct and in essence – is winning. But, people have been trained to think that in order for someone to win somebody has to lose, and it is this belief that creates havoc in one’s life.

A person’s worth has nothing to do with material wealth. It has nothing to do with body shape, the color of a person’s hair or eyes, the clothes they wear, the house they live in, the car they drive, or the job they go to every day. It has nothing to do with their education level or the number of vacations a person goes on every year. A person’s worth is not determined by an outside source. A person’s worth is a deep sense of understanding the truth of who they really are. A person’s worth is known.

Comparisons create division. Comparisons determine people are above others, equal to others, or beneath others. Comparisons are creating boxes to put people in. Comparisons create categories, labels and tags and that never works out well for anyone. It doesn’t matter what you think your label is – the label itself creates a false sense of something you think you need to live up to. Comparisons start out as simple likes and dislikes, but grow to become accusations and criticisms. Comparisons become judgments. The problem with judging people is, it creates a them versus me attitude, which creates an even more competitive environment. At some point, when a person believes they are falling behind and can’t catch up, their focus turns to all the things they don’t have that others do, and this creates resentment, bitterness, and anger. They criticize and blame the people who do have these things, and then feel justified in assigning a derogatory label to the ‘haves’. Lately, there has been extensive use of a catalogue of derogatory names, the most common ones used now end in ‘phobe’.

Most people just want to know they matter. They might simply want to be noticed, or maybe respected, validated or revered. Once a person determines what is different about them, they either try to change and join the crowd, or they allow these differences to define them. They assign a label to themselves and look for others who they believe share their label. They gather together and hold their differences high in the air and then demand that everyone accept them. They become the town criers. The labelers, the public shamers. The thing is, demands never join people together – demands create further division. Demands force the other to choose. To judge.

The hope of the person assigning the label and demanding that others accept them is that the person who is different, or disagreed with them, or has something the other doesn’t, feels some form of guilt for being different, having a different opinion, or an accumulation of material objects. The ability to publicly humiliate these people has become very easy, so the fear of being labelled and publicly humiliated keeps some folks in line. The thing with assigning labels and shaming others is, it’s really just a way to temporarily alleviate a personal sense of guilt, and has very little to do with the person they’ve labelled, publicly humiliated and shamed.

The only person that has the power to assign a level of importance to something is you. If you decide that your label is worth fighting others for, you are choosing to divide yourself from everyone else. You are building a defensive wall between yourself and everyone else. The people who didn’t share your opinion or are different from you didn’t build that wall. Some people feel pressured into having to accept things they aren’t ready to for fear that they will be thrown in jail, publicly humiliated or shamed, or that they will be left behind. Rather than a society where people really are accepted for who they are, a culture is created where people are forced to choose whether they will agree to something they don’t really want to, or look for their own group to align themselves with. More divisions are created. More walls go up and more groups find themselves isolated. This system is not designed to bring people together. Its very design separates.

The Spiritual journey is a road that leads to you. The real you. An authentic you. When you arrive, you return to a place of knowing that you belong. That you are a part of something so big, so great that it is creation itself. Once you make the decision to travel down the road to you, you will learn that you already have everything you need. You will come to understand that there is no situation, circumstance, material object, demand or anything else that will change who you are. When you arrive at you, you join with Creation itself. With God, and there is nothing on this earth that is bigger, stronger, faster, or valuable than that.

© 2017 Penny Hodgson. All rights reserved.

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