Outside Looking In

Dear Paulo, The more I discover my spiritual self, the more I find myself out of the mainstream of life. Almost as if I’m outside looking in at everyone else. Is that supposed to happen?
— Ahnighta in Kalamazoo, Michigan

If by “mainstream” you mean the way most people think and behave, the answer would be yes — because to the extent that you have a spiritual point of view you ARE on the outside looking in! As we go beyond the normal egocentric viewpoint, we are going to see things from a broader perspective, and become more objective. This will make you different than most people — most of whom do not put a priority on expanding consciousness.

But this does not mean that you need to be — or should be — all alone, which is why all spiritual paths include the idea of community. In Buddhism, for instance, having the support of one’s spiritual community (“sangha”) is emphasized as one of three “jewels” or “refuges” — a most important spiritual supports — which also include the inspiring power of spiritual ideals (“buddha”) and your learning of the way things work on the best path for you (“dharma”).

According to legend, the Buddha’s assistant, Ananda, once surmised “Sir, sometimes I think having spiritual friends is half of the spiritual life,” and the Buddha reportedly replied, “No, Ananda … having spiritual friends is the WHOLE of the spiritual life.”

In any case, don’t worry if you feel different than most people, or less interested in the values generally promoted by social networking and the media. If you are becoming more aware (i.e. “spiritual”), you will naturally notice — as you ARE noticing — that your priorities are becoming more about the ‘inner game.’ Good for you!