Rules are beliefs about how things should be. They are helpful for maintaining the social order, but they can limit spiritual growth.
Who sets the rules? Usually it is men who are in positions of power. These men create rules that keep the poor in places of poverty. Their rules keep the disenfranchised people powerless. As a spiritual practice a person or a group of people can work to create new rules, rules that liberate and create equality.
The most destructive rules are often the ones people set up for themselves, such as the rules in their head that come in the form of “shoulds.” Our adherence to “shoulds” limits our possibilities. By doing what we should, such as the noble thing, for example, we forsake our dreams. Yet those dreams may be the leading us to where we need to be to thrive. By adhering to the rules in our head, we forgo becoming all that we can be. We fail to use our unique gifts and talents, and may miss the purpose of our time here.
It is easy to follow some rules blindly, and in doing so we miss a higher calling. For instance, we betray a friend because someone with so-called authority presses upon us to do so. We believe we have done right, but we have not followed our conscience. We miss the higher calling of loyalty. Following the rules has become an easy way out of the moral dilemma.
A dilemma is a choice between two negatives, and in these situations the rules fail us. “What should I do” becomes the question. Yet, there may be no right answer. We may choose the course that does the least damage.
Particularly self-damaging can be the rules we picked up along the way that have served us in the past, but are no longer useful. As a spiritual practice one can begin observing and challenging their own unwritten rules.
We may have learned all sorts of rules as children, rules to help keep us safe. But as adults, we may no longer need them. We may have adopted unspoken rules about who to associate with, what to wear, how to be, or how to handle our emotions. But these rules can be challenged, and by challenging them we open ourselves up to growth.
Developing autonomy and an internal locus of control is a spiritual practice that calls for honesty. We give up black and white thinking and accept new information and allow it to shape a new world view. We work through the evidence, and the pros and cons, and live with greater integrity. We give up childish simplicity and work to become more open and accepting.
Challenging our own rules is an act of moral courage and deep spirituality and spiritual development.
Loneliness as a spiritual condition comes from within a person, regardless of external circumstances. Loneliness is caused by a non-acceptance of one’s current situation. One has slipped from gratitude and being in the present moment.
One is lonely when comparing the past to the present. “Back then I had…Now I don’t have…” Loneliness is based in loss.
Loneliness is also present when one does not enjoy being in his or her own presence, for one can be alone and not feel lonely. One can do much to improve their level of enjoyment when others are not around. One can work to change habits or circumstances.
If a decision you made has isolated you, then make a new decision. Even things that seemed permanent in the beginning can be undone. Things can be thought through again as new evidence comes to light. Forgiveness can help restore some broken relationships. In other cases, hold your ground; revisiting a past relationship may prolong agony. Grieve and move forward.
A person can get stuck and feel miserable and all alone in this world. He or she can also do something different and new. Circumstances are seldom permanent.
Loneliness is based in loss. Gratitude is based in the appreciation one has for every little thing in their life. One can also look back in gratitude and say, “I enjoyed that, and I am lucky to have had that gift in my life.”
Loneliness denies reality. Loneliness exaggerates: “This is terrible. This is lasting.” In truth, all of life is ebbing and flowing. Friends come and go. This too will pass. This pain or loss will lessen. Joy will return. Happiness happens. New friends will arrive.
The answer for loneliness is giving. Give to another person, or even an animal. Share. Do acts of service. Stop thinking of only you and your circumstances.
Ask yourself, where can I volunteer? Who is lonelier than I am? Who needs what I have to give? Find that niche and give of yourself, for by focusing on others, your loneliness will dissipate.
Be the change you want to see. Invite that person over. Talk to that person in line or on the bus. Notice who you enjoy seeing and nurture friendship with that person. Cherish the relationships you have and soon your loneliness will pass.