According to the dictionary common sense is practical wisdom. Practical wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge to a situation in order to gain a favorable result. Courtesy is a form of common sense, like saying please and thank you, eating with utensils instead of fingers (unless that is cultural), or acknowledging greetings from other. Sometimes there isn’t a lot of agreement on what is common sense. However, let’s explore some ideas about common sense in spirituality.
The dharma of Amaraji Maha Marai is based on the belief that each individual is a spark of divine light, that all beings arise from One Source, that humans have been gifted with the ability to imagine and analyze situations in order to respond to them. Humans, therefore, are blessed with the inner need to express love, joy, peace, light, and life. These are qualities not emotions. The path of spirituality arises when an individual seeks to expand, understand, and share these divine qualities in whatever way is possible under current circumstances. This drive to embrace our divine nature constitutes souls’ imperative to seek union with a Higher Power.
Let’s look at some common sense objectives for a spiritual seeker. When we are attempting to find something it helps to have a general idea of where to look and where to not get bogged down. That’s the idea on the spiritual path. The first thing to do when taking a journey is to create an inventory of what you have and what will be needed then we acquire things along the road.
- We know our personal ethical code and adhere to it even when it’s inconvenient and we are tempted to do otherwise.
- Take inventory of one’s benefactor qualities and do an honest assessment of one’s harmful and detrimental behaviors. Then accept that both these things are true about the self and while modifications can occur we will never really be rid of either of these things. In other words accept all of what we are as a human being.
- Accept that there is no utopia and never will be. Life is not fair. There is no way to create a perfect life, a perfect relationship, work with the perfect teacher, or belong to a perfect community. Instead, we grow, evolve, forgive, and try again many times.
- Find a reliable teacher to assist in expanding your promise, your gifts, as a soul. But don’t expect the teacher to be perfect…if you’re lucky the teacher will be a full human being who has learned from his/her mistakes and wants to help you learn from yours.
- Ash-E-Tah needs to be a daily practice. Ash-E-Tah means accepting what is and looking for the sweetness that is also available even in the midst of horrible events. We all live life between one challenge and the next upsetting event…however, there is usually quite a lot of time (hours if not days/weeks/months) between difficulties. Our life can be lived by focusing on the space between the tiger and the dragon.
- The human brain is hardwired to problem solve. When we perceive a challenge the brain kicks in to figure out how to survive, even if it isn’t our direct problem. Over exposure to tragic, horrible, disastrous, emotionally draining events that we can do nothing about is detrimental to our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Common sense dictates that we limit our exposure to bad news and focus on helping where we are actually able to make a difference. This keeps us strong in difficult and dangerous times instead of depressed and burned-out.
- It is common sense to accept that we are not indispensable. We may be important in the lives of many people but they got along somehow in the world before they met us and they will get along somehow if we are no longer available. It’s ego to never take a regular time out for rest, play, and sanctuary because others “need” us to be there for them. As Gandalf said, you are just a little fellow in a very large world after all. We have been chosen to offer our gift…but so has everyone else. Our job is to do what we can and let others take care of the rest of the problems.
- Because we seek enlightenment we are bound to acquire some sooner or later. Most enlightenment is about our behavior, habituated choices, cultural conditioning, and coming face-to-face with personal entitlement. This is why true enlightenment often results in our saying- Oh, shit! The common sense of discovery is to see or recognize what was and make a plan to free/liberate ourselves from that suffering. So, retroactive guilt, guilt that comes from feeling bad because we were ignorant and did harmful things is not useful. If, however, we continue the behavior after we know better guilt could assist in making positive change. By and large, however, guilt is not helpful. Shame is not helpful. Deciding to make a new plan, a new life, a new attempt to do better- that’s helpful!
This is a short list of a common sense approaches to spirituality. There are undoubtedly many other items you could add to this list. Perhaps the most important advice of all is- ask questions, try things out for yourself to see if they work for you, and remember this is your journey to the ultimate union with the Higher Power. Others have left a trail, a path, even a road…make sure their way is the best way for you