What are we doing here?
There are many perspectives and opinions to answer such a question. But how many of them truly satisfy our deep yearn to understand? We can also ask it in a few different ways: what’s life about? why was I born? is this all it is? am I supposed to be doing something here?
We might say life is a process and is about spiritual evolution. Yet this response falls short on two almost opposing knowledge structures. First off evolution, as the word has been understood since the mid-1800s, is based on identifiable traits that are inheritable, passed on from one generation to the other with its mutation, so after a certain number of generations a change has occurred. Human bipedalism and brain change are considered to have followed this trajectory with changes in the species along the way. Yet is “spirituality” a trait? Can it be inherited? It seems to be more a feature of the human, one could say all beings, condition. But then what is spiritual evolution?
Attempting to answer that from the various spiritual traditions, particularly those that are non-dual reveals that such a term is a misnomer. If our essential nature is spirit (for want of a better word), not all this materiality, we find spirit is untouched, never affected or changed. It is only obscured through association with a material-based consciousness. This means there is no need or even possibility of a spiritual evolution as spirit “is” already and always has been and always will be.
So it seems we cannot identify this as a material inherited trait nor is it relevant in actual terms of spirit. Back to what are we doing here? The issue appears to be the true identity or nature, non-material that already “is,” is obscured. And our conditioning in the form of fixed ideas, prejudices, attachments, fears, and so on all obscure this. So much so we identify with a “not-me”, by my name, what I do, etc. and come up with phrases like “spiritually evolving” to feel better about the degree of obscuration Yet the term has some practical value admittedly.
“If this is why we are here then it is to understand ourselves, not merely our personality, but our fundamental behavior and thought patterns. It is to understand and care for others, help, be kind, and know when to walk away lest you get caught up with someone crafty (think “the serpent”)……”
If one is working on deep patterns through various practices and techniques with an overall continuous discernment then it is reasonable to term this as spiritual work. And progress in this, meaning reducing the distortions in my behavior and character, undoing misunderstanding, away from self-identification, has then in its own language become “spiritual evolution”. If this is why we are here then it is to understand ourselves, not merely our personality, but our fundamental behavior and thought patterns. It is to understand and care for others, help, be kind, and know when to walk away lest you get caught up with someone crafty (think “the serpent”).
But lastly, and very important to this, is more than just being a nice person, because the world is primarily full of nice people (maybe not nice corporations!!) but to actively go in and do the work, inside. This involves a focus on one or several of how one works the body, the breath, into the heart, mental processing. And this is why guidance is needed.
Yoga gets described and termed as many things. Most of the time because people don’t know any better and so the reduced form resonates the most, like body mechanics and breath measures and morality. But this is not yoga. And though intentions are the best, it can leave one going around in circles. uh oh, no spiritual evolution. Because the inner work is tricky. Without guidance and someone who really gets it we may stay on the same circle of doing without the inner transformations that arise.
However, this is very personal. Start by not having an opinion. Look at what you do. What advice are you given. What do you have as a practice not merely a routine. Always be sincere and seek good help, real clear advice. Not many really know the path, hence the challenge. And look at how you take on these practices and apply the continuous discerning throughout the day. It takes that much to get at spiritual evolution. All while being a nice person but knowing your boundaries with some “tough compassion.”
Be nice, help others, be kind to others, maybe that is a full time path, which only a very few manage due to life circumstances. So you with a job, relationship, world responsibilities need to also have an inner practice, which means regular and sincerely committed to, no excuses.
Wishing that as your own personal “spiritual evolution” into understanding what am I, are you, are we all doing here.
Stay positive, stay at it, stay centered
Dr. Paul Dallaghan’s expertise with breathwork, body and meditative practices comes from three sources: (1) three decades of daily dedicated practice and teaching these techniques; (2) uniquely acknowledged in the Yoga tradition by the title of “Master Yogi-Prānācharya (expert in breath)”, following an immersion in the original culture through one-on-one direct training in practice and study of ancient texts; (3) a PhD in doctoral scientific research at a leading US university (Emory) covering both the tradition and science of yoga and breath practices in terms of stress, health and aging. As a result, Paul occupies a unique space to impart genuine teaching and science on the breath, body, and meditative practices, seen as a Teacher-of-teachers and identified to carry on the tradition of Pranayama. His sincere and ongoing role is to teach, write and research, to help put out experienced and authentic information on these areas of how we live, breathe and be, to help people improve their mental and physical health, and live more fulfilling lives.
For more on his background see his bio