Spiritual Maturity

What exactly is spiritual maturity? There are many misconceptions about

what it takes to be a spiritually mature person. That's why we must first

begin by discussing what spiritual maturity is not.

Spiritual maturity has nothing to do with:

How long you've been practicing

Who you've been practicing with

Where you've been practicing

How long you can meditate

What retreats you've attended

How long you can pray

If you've been born again

What religious tradition you adhere to

What divinity school you've graduated from

Who or what you follow

Spiritual maturity has nothing to do with how disciplined you are or what

you've sacrificed or given up for your spiritual practice. Some of these

things can be helpful to us in our practice and promote good physical and

emotional health but they do not bring us spiritual maturity.

If all these things do not bring us spiritual maturity, then what does?

Illusion of Control

The true mark of a spiritually mature person is that they no longer live for

control and that they understand and accept the ultimate truth that they are

not in control and never have been.

Spiritual maturity is all about how you understand and relate to the desire to

control. That you no longer play the competitive and manipulative games of

control with yourself or others. When we think we are in control we are

living in an illusion and are playing at life immaturely.

The truly mature spiritual person chooses to support, love and care for the

world rather than trying to control it. Giving up the illusion of control is an

outward sign of true inner spiritual strength and maturity.

This is of course a shattering realization to our egos because all our lives

the world has conditioned us to believe in the possibility of control and so

much of our energy has been channelled into a fight for control.

When we closely examine the underpinnings of our desires we see that

we’ve spent much of our lives struggling for control. The world we live in

submits to, votes for and idolizes the illusionary masters of control.

When can lose ourselves and all that is meaningful in this life to the illusion

of control. This is the notion of “tempting the Gods” in Greek mythology and

“pride before the crash” in Christianity. The Buddha tells us “It is better to

travel well than to arrive”. One who thinks they have arrived thinks they are

in control.

Letting Go

How does a mature person respond to the desire for control? We let it go.

No one can teach us how to let go, we cannot "do" letting go.

Letting go is NOT the practice of saintly passivity or not being bothered by

anything. These are false attempts at letting go and just another tactic at

feeling in control.

Letting go is an intuitive response, that can only be experienced when we

are completely honest with ourselves about our desires and actions. Letting

go is a deep form of relaxing.

Meditation can help us to be vigilant in this respect because it enables us to

relax, to be quiet with ourselves and experience the truth within, thus

promoting an honest response to all we experience.

Meditation teaches us to put aside all our fears and let go. Meditation

teaches us to let go and float on the ocean of our consciousness rather

than struggling to control it.

It’s the difference between struggling to stay afloat which inevitably leads to

sinking, and lying in stillness which inevitably leads to floating. It takes

courage to lay still and float. We must put aside all our conditioned fears

and trust in our own nature.

Hold on Tightly, Let Go Lightly

The world conditions us to hold on tightly. To paraphrase the words of

Mister Eckhardt, when we grasp for control, the world becomes a form of

hell, fear-inspiring and full of demons out to do us harm.

Spiritual practice teaches us to let go lightly. When we stop grasping and

let go, we begin receiving and supporting the world. We see the kingdom of

heaven (or nirvana) all around us and our demons turn into angels. To

quote Jesus Christ, ”The kingdom of God is all around us but men do not

see it."

We seek control out of the fear of all that could happen to us. Out of the

fear that we may sink, stumble and fall. We fear that we may look foolish to

others. We fear that we may lose something of worldly value.

We must accept the ultimate reality that when we eventually die, we must

let go of all earthly attachments any way, the fruits of our actions in this life

are all that we will take with us. Death is the ultimate act of letting go.

Letting go means accepting this ultimate truth and living as such. This is

true spiritual maturity.

Support Not Control

Supporting rather than controlling means that we are more concerned with

what we are giving rather than receiving. When we support our health and

well-being, when we support others, when we support our environment

rather than trying to control it all life benefits. This is when we open up our

lives to the true joy of living. This is the path that leads us to true spiritual


Meditation practice teaches us this important life lesson. Each time we

accept our thoughts and emotions without judgement, simply accepting

them unconditionally and return to the breath, we train in taking that

supportive role.

Meditation teaches us to let go of the ego’s desire to control and instead

accept the enormity of the space within. No longer identifying with our

limited ego, we identify with the vast sea of our own consciousness and we

trust in our own spiritual heart.

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Sangha Without Borders is currently physically located in London, UK