18 Apr After the Resurrection, the Laundry: Integrating Spiritual Experience into Everyday Life
It’s Easter Monday. We are now living in a post-Resurrection world. How do we integrate it?
Unlike many people, and even some Christians, I accept the Resurrection as fact. It’s much easier for me to accept than, say, white supremacy or US exceptionalism, or AI.
So when Easter comes ‘round and we celebrate the Resurrection, or Spring, Ostara, or Passover’s renewal and rebirth, it means something to me.
I like recognizing the specific time we are passing through the portal: Easter Sunday itself. The Passover seder. The precise Equinox moment.
But what happens afterward? Do we all just go back to normal? Hasn’t “normal” just changed?
How is life actually lived on the other side of the portal? This is my exploration.
After the Resurrection, the Laundry*: Integrating Spiritual Experience into Everyday Life
On the other side of the portal of spiritual experience comes spiritual integration.
There is no necessary boundary or even distinction between our everyday life and our spiritual life.
This gets forgotten when we pursue spiritual experience.
Enlightenment, ascension, kensho, mukti, self-realization should change the way we live every day.
Our 3 Primal Fears
How can we integrate spiritual experience into everyday life?
Well, let’s look at our fears of integration first. These fears seem to me to be pretty basic. I’ll group them into three types and then explore each one briefly: We are afraid
We won’t want to work anymore.
We’ll be abandoned by those we love.
We’ll become unrecognizable to ourselves.
1. We won’t want to work:
How can we work our normal everyday jobs or even do chores in our new spiritual state?
We imagine spiritual experience as a state of bliss and can’t imagine feeling blissful about working. This is pure projection. Think about this fear for a moment. The state you were in when you had spiritual realization was not static; it wasn’t even a “state” in the true meaning of that word (static). Realization is a new place we live into, it’s not a bit static. If we can’t work and remain realized, it’s not our work that’s the problem. It’s our ideas about realization is. How sturdy is our spiritual life, in fact?
Integration of spiritual life into everyday life starts with reconceptualizing work: how we work, how much we make, who works for us, what they make, how we use and feel about money, etc. All sorts of good questions arise when we live our spiritual realization in the work-world. These are worthy of spiritual exploration and resolution. There are always answers to your questions; ask your spiritual self and refuse the divisions between spirit and matter. If spirit doesn’t dwell in matter, it literally doesn’t matter. How we live spiritually includes how we work and earn money, and how we treat others who do.
2. We will be abandoned:
After spiritual realization, we fear outgrowing our families, friends, and love relationships.
This is possible, but unlikely. In truth, the person you fear abandoning you is you. (See #3). Maybe you should fear your judgements of others, and your “old” self. Or rather, don’t fear them but own your fears as projections of yet another type of division or duality: the division between this “kind of” person and that “kind of” person.
All people are on the path to liberation and realization. (Thus the popularity of religions and ideas such as enlightenment!) Everyone wants this. To keep it, we have to claim it. To claim it, we have to live and be it. Spiritual realization grows under you to support you with its new foundation if you let it.
Just like the worthy questions arising from living spiritually into our work-world, worthy questions will arise as you integrate your spiritual life into your relational life: do I enjoy these relationships? Are they healthy? What does my new awareness show me about myself that I didn’t see before? How might I be kinder, including to myself? Am I devoting enough time to my relational life or am I plowing through time with those I purport to love so I can get to the good stuff, whatever that is? In fact, what is the good stuff now that I have had this spiritual awakening?
3. We won’t recognize ourselves:
Once you achieve enlightenment, who will you be? Do you know?
This is really the root fear, as you know if you’ve read the last two sections. If we fear integrating spiritual life into “real” life, we are really only dividing ourselves from ourselves. This limits us!
Just as everyone needs an origin story, everyone needs an “ultimate” story. Not only “where did you come from?” but “where are you planning to end up?” What does it look like?
It is fine to ask ourselves these questions if we truly believe enlightenment is possible here on this Earth. I do. And it is fine to have an image, a story, a projection onto what our everyday lives will look like when we live them as enlightened beings. Of course the story will change as we do. That’s fine.
But not having an idea of ourselves as living enlightenment everyday is absurdly limiting. It’s like constantly holding a carrot in front of ourselves but not noticing the carrot is suspended from a stick. We use spiritual life as a goad, or a stick, to beat ourselves into spiritual discipline. The spiritual life is its own reward! Loving life, others, and ourselves grows so dramatically as we integrate spiritual growth into everyday life.
Integrating Spiritual Experience into Everyday Life: 3 Simple Steps
I’ll return to the question I began with:
How can we integrate spiritual experience into everyday life?
Several friends of mine have had recent, dramatic, enlightenment experiences. I have progressively deeper enlightenment experiences myself. Here is what I do and advise:
1. Set aside times for spiritual practice–and respect them.
2. Return to your enlightenment experience during these times as a touchstone.
Don’t return obsessively to your spiritual experience outside times you set aside for spiritual practice. That’s using it as as a point of comparison and you will find reasons to diminish what you call your “non-spiritual” experiences.
Returning to your enlightenment experiences during times set aside for spiritual practice allows you to use them correctly, as jumping-off points for deeper, more embodied, more frequent spiritual experience in everyday life.
What you call your “non-spiritual” experience will begin to shift deeply in some of the ways described in the three fears: work, love, and self-image. Your work-life, relational life and inner life will all shift, often quite dramatically if you can handle the fear and get your sea-legs under you, or your snowboarding legs, or whatever metaphor you like for when the ground beneath you feels like it’s moving. It’s alright; the Earth is here for us as partner in our ascension. Work it.
But remember #1 and make regular, frequent, even very short, appointments with yourself for spiritual practice, because this is how your body catches up. It allows your different levels of being—physical, emotional, and mental—to catch up with your spiritual being, so that your spiritual being truly can integrate into all levels.
3. Trust in the “ordinary.”
The Divine Curriculum is always interested in when we’re ready for our next lesson. What we perceived to be ordinary and separate from the spiritual will quickly become infused with our deepest, highest, spiritual awareness if we see all our life as one spiritual experience, including doing the laundry.
Don’t falsify or play-act but use your new spiritual eyes to see what is going on, and how you can choose now to relate to it. And then do so.
This includes non-doing; sometimes spiritual experience calls us to much more spacious ways of living that include “just” sitting, or walking, or being. Go with it. Everyone will understand. Most important, you will understand yourself.
And what was “ordinary” will be revealed as the other side of that portal.
*The title of this post is a grateful nod to After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path by Jack Kornfield.