Note on the self-directed path

As you may feel, embarking on your own is a spiritual responsibility of considerable consequence. If you really want your self-directed spiritual experience to be deep, rich, and fulfilling, it certainly can be. Here are some things you should know that will balance out the liabilities of self-directed spiritual practice, and help it be that way.

As you part from the path of conventional religion, listen to some of your associates’ parting shots, because their warnings are not necessarily lacking in merit altogether. The criticisms of religion leveled at "new ageism" and self-styled prodigal spirituality may be extreme at times, but even so have some merit. It is wise to take the legitimate aspects of those criticisms into account when embarking on a path of self-directed spirituality.

Even if you "decide" to go it alone, there’s no such thing as a solo soul. Spiritual enlightenment, like evolutionary progress in general, is invariably a team sport. Those who pretend otherwise, and isolate themselves excessively, tend to get spiritually misoriented. The spiritual path that leads beyond organized religion has been trod by others, and reliable guides to that terrain should be consulted.

For people who try to reinvent the wheel, the tendency is to favor their strengths and ignore their weaknesses. They inadvertently end up catering to the ego, rather than effectively disciplining it. A good way to avoid that pitfall is to make sure your spiritual life "after church" is a well-balanced harmony that includes a balance of four essential elements:

the practical

the mystic

the gnostic

the social.

For nearly everyone, all four elements are necessary to eliminate karmic biases and avoid the possibility of uneven development.

The practical element insures that spiritual truths are implemented in real life ways. The mystic element insures that the practitioner receives the soul-sustaining nurturance of communion with God and one’s fellow man. The gnostic element insures that the lessons of experience and the spiritual values of intuitive revelation are intelligently interpreted and effectively generalized. The social element insures that the invaluable contributions of experienced guidance, peer feedback, the energy of relationship, and self-transcending interactions are brought to bear on one’s spiritual progress.

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