The spiritual-human duality dance creates an inherent sense of tension in our minds. Those who tend to resonate with the ideology of selflessness and letting go of the ego understand that a life centered on having material possessions is not in the end, fulfilling. The ideal mind would be to experience materialism without attachment.
We often hear the phrase, “You are a spiritual being in a human body”. But this begs the question, what is it to “be” spiritual versus being human? This is where we get confused. It’s our meaning of what we consider the terms ‘spirituality’ and ‘humanness’ that we have not fully reconciled.
Some define spiritual as being of a more pure and perfect state compared to that of being human, which some would say is flawed and imperfect – “after all, we are human”. The essence of the duality conflict is the separation of human vs. spirit through our need to create order in our minds. We also tend to see this separation as a hierarchy of vibration with spirit being higher than human. Some people refer to a state of being that is more balanced towards the spiritual side to be more ‘conscious’.
We also confuse our sense of spirituality with our adoption of a particular lifestyle. Our values, principles and ideologies can form our lifestyle choices and behaviors. We do our best to express ourselves within our communities and in so doing, reinforce our view of ourselves as being spiritual. This only reinforces the self and the ego. Our human side holds tight to its sense of self, even if we believe superficially that we are acting in the most spiritual manner.
Our inner thoughts, on a deep level are what matter. For example, to give without the expectation of receiving anything in return is extremely gratifying on a soul level. However, to give to your church with the understanding that you will be recognized in some way by the congregation lacks purity of spirit (in my opinion).
Humans are very sensitive to hypocrisy, but do not do a very good job managing their own balance between their spirituality and humanness. Some people never give this idea any thought at all because if they did, they would reveal their own inherent hypocrisy. Being true to your self is at the heart of this dilemma.
I dwell into this concept of duality because it helps me to reconcile my own balance between my concept of being in spirit and human at the same time. But this whole analysis is based on the idea that the two are separate from one another.
When we explore our mind and attempt to drop thoughts of ego and the sense of our self (The “I” and “me” to which we refer) we are attempting to access what is referred to in Buddhism as the “absence of self”, which to our human minds, implies duality. What is this “non-self”? This is not to deny the existence of the self, but simply to just see what it is without labeling it or trying to be attached in some way.
It is difficult from an intellectual standpoint to arrive at a place of awakening or realization that our core essence is without an ego. Our sense of attachment to our idea of our self, our identity, our material possessions, our status in the community, etc. can hold us back from experiencing this deeper sense of awakening to our true being.
If we are simply given instructions to do away with material possessions, to rid our minds of desire and wanting for things in our lives, our ego screams and fights for its life. We cannot seem to let go of attachment. But it is not the attachment to the things we have that we fear losing; it is the loss of our sense of identity that our ego holds onto that we fear.
To define yourself by what you own, what you drive and your social status is delusional.
I was once in a workshop called “The Money Workshop”. It was not about financial planning. It was all about exploring how we perceive wealth, money, being rich, etc.—all thoughts that we have as humans and are conditioned from childhood and throughout our lives in society.
One exercise was to explore the idea of having a large amount of money. How much would you want to have? Would it be one million, 10 million or perhaps 100 million? Why limit yourself to a particular amount? OK then, now that you have this amount, what would you do with it? And then more poignantly, how would you feel if you had these things?
The next part of the exercise was to explore the ego attachment that we would naturally associate with having something that we do not already have. Thoughts such as, I want to have a million dollars so that “I feel important” or “to gain status in my social circle” or something else attached to an ego driven mindset. Some people would say “So I don’t have to live in fear and so that I could live with a feeling of security”.
It is said that “Money does not buy happiness, but it makes life easier”. Wealthy people are not automatically happy. They will admit that life is more than having things. It’s more about giving of yourself and sharing your gifts that is truly fulfilling. This is a shift of mindset from ego based attachment to being more spiritual. Some people have to experience what it’s like to be wealthy in order to realize that it’s not the wealth that makes them fulfilled, it is their mindset.