‘No One Thing Can Do It All’: On The Limits Of Spirituality

I used to think that philosophy as a way of life could do it all. Later on, I was disabused of this illusion. Then I thought that contemplative philosophy was in the service of spirituality and that, together, they would suffice. I still believe the former claim but not the latter, and now I see that even those two together cannot do it all.

To illustrate this point, consider a short excerpt (slightly edited) from Stephen Wolinsky’s The Beginner’s Guide to Quantum Psychology (2000):

The question in psycho-spiritual circles is, “Why is all of this good stuff, which I experience in meditation, experienced only for that moment? Why isn’t it sustained and stabilized?”

“I” used to meditate for three-to-five hours a day for twelve–thirteen years. And what happened was, I’d sit down at about 6 AM—in India I did it at 3 AM—and after a period of time, everything got quiet, and all of a sudden this beautiful emptiness would open up and I would experience nothingness.

Then, I would get up to go to work, and within a few minutes my life and all of its problems would come rushing back. It could be my girlfriend calling me, it could be the mortgage payment that was due. It was always something. So all of a sudden, my stuff comes back. I may be a little more detached from it because of my meditating, but it definitely comes back.

So I would go to see my clients. In New Mexico, I would work from 11 AM to 4:30 PM. At 5:30 I would sit again for meditation. Soon there would be a quiet SPACIOUSNESS. But the same thing would happen once I was out of meditation. My girlfriend would tell me about some problem and all my stuff would come back.

Well, the reason it came back was because I had been given misinformation. Meditation is extremely good for giving you a taste of ESSENCE, I AM, VOID, etc. But it has nothing whatever to do with, and will not handle, your external, or your psycho-emotional stuff.

This was not apparent to me because I had been told that meditation would do it all. I began to discover, that it wouldn’t and couldn’t do it all. No one thing can do it all. (112-13)

I know exactly what he means.

Related Further Reading

Taggart, “Why The Therapeutic Needs The Spiritual And Vice Versa And Why They Both Need Philosophy”

Taggart, “DIY Ecology Of Practices Or Iterative Best Practices?”