Free thinkers reside at the intersection of secular and ascetic. Elements from both worlds flow into this junction immersing the residents in a melting pot. The struggles, sadness, pain, joy and happiness they experience is unparalleled.
Ascetic Street 1%
Buddhists, yogis, Taoists, mystics, nuns and priests who have renounced material pleasures in favour of spiritual development travel this road. Here the spiritually mature integrate mindfulness and compassion into every moment to create an insightful experience.
As spirituality increases attachment to the material world decreases. In the early stages of this spiritual development individuals become more mindful and sensitive to the popular culture permeating society. They begin to see things and people for what they are, instead of what they want them to be or who they pretend to be. As they transcend the illusion they look behind the curtain of popular movies, music, commercials and television programming to see hidden agendas.
Eventually they shed the desire for entertainment and abandon the frivolous pop culture that occupy average minds. They see through the political façade and lose interest in local and international affairs.
They develop a high value for all living things from the ant to the elephant. All who reach this level become vegans. They adopt diets like Jain vegetarianism that only allow consumption of plants for survival. Adherents of these strict diets try their best not to injure plants in the process of eating them, because they see plants as living beings.
They take the leaves off vegetables and leave them intact and alive in the earth. They do not consume plants if it means they will die.
Foods like mushroom are forbidden as they contain microscopic organisms that are killed while eating them. Crops like potatoes that require uprooting are forbidden because in the uprooting process small insects might get killed and uprooting kills the entire crop. They use a filtering cloth to get rid of microscopic organisms in water.
Those that walk the ascetic path live a life of frequent fasting and occasional eating as opposed to most people who eat regularly and fast occasionally.
The ascetic have no need for cellphones, computers, radios and televisions.
They cannot be seduced by clothes, cars and jewellery.
They completely lose the desire to oppose or change things and instead journey deeper into their inner world.
Only 1% of the population is like this.
Welcome to secular street where everything is pleasant or so it seems.
Cotton candy clouds, sugar flows from the tap.
This is the life you live in dreams.
No responsibility makes it the easiest path to take.
Non stop stimulation by artificial means.
Spend all your time having fun while your life goes to waste.
Those deep in secularity have abandoned spiritual practice and are completely disconnected from their inner world. They live a life where all happiness and pleasure comes from external stimulation. The intimacy of self and the joy of being is unknown to them.
The ascetic life is too extreme.
The secular life is too unclean.
The intersection is the balance.
At the intersection people moderately engage in the secular activities while keeping a permanent space in their lives for spiritual practice. They might party, engage in entertainment, eat a few unhealthy things all within reasonable limits. They are not perfect ascetic models of spirituality. They are not extreme excessive consumers of materialism. They recognize that they might not be able to completely sever their desires, imperfections and attachments so they do things in moderation.
Temptation At The Intersection: A Struggle They Can’t Experience
For a healthy spiritual life it is necessary to abandon certain pleasures of the material world. However it is not required to go to the extreme of the ascetics. The person who endeavours to balance both worlds is often exposed to temptation.
They see people obsessively eating food that they no longer consume and regularly pass places they swore never to enter again. They see people enjoying all the things they can’t. This in your face temptation often creates frustration.
Strict self discipline and complete devotion to spirituality shifts the ascetic away from external temptations to an internal world. Those completely attached to the secular world accept most of the things those at the intersection are trying to avoid. Those at the intersection therefore face a struggle that the others don’t experience.
Advantages Of The Intersection
The intersection provides an opportunity to become emotionally independent because here you can make your own decisions. The intersection is free from religious organizations, controlling cults and extremist groups that require strict adherence to a specific theology. Your life is in your own hands.
Pushing yourself to do spiritual practice even on days when there is no motivation gives you emotional independence. After a while spiritual practice becomes automatic and the need to be motivated fades.
Emotional independence is a rare quality because most are not willing to face the pressure to attain this diamond.
Individuals with emotional independence have more stability and composure when facing adversity. They do not live in a state of reaction. They have higher appreciation for their loved ones and depend less on them.
Attracting Genuine People
Emotionally independent individuals attract friends who genuinely understand them. A genuine friendship floats on a higher spiritual plane and remains when everything tangible disappears. In western society friendships are commonly created on common superficial ground. Similar interest in specific pop culture phenomena forms the foundation of these shallow friendships. Die hard Star Wars fans and cult comic book collectors meet at conventions and become friends. Friendships form when people like the same sports team or take drugs at the same scene.
In these friendships most of the time is focused on the superficial external thing they have in common. They never go beyond tangible constructs to discuss deeper feelings. If one participant loses interest in these external superficial factors the friendship ends.
Getting Out Of The Frame and Looking At The Picture
The intersection offers a unique and interesting learning experience. The work ethic, street smarts and hustle game of the worldly are good survival tools. The knowledge of self gained through spirituality is invaluable.
The liberal nature of the intersection means more exposure to things that conflict with your spiritual life. Here temptation is defeated with will power, taking personal responsibility and realizing that the decisions you make come with consequences.
True freedom is the ability to face temptation with confidence.
If you do not give in to short term gratification life will be better in the long run and one day there will be no temptation.
Residents at the intersection aren’t Buddhist monks, ascetics, Taoists, Hindus or Shamans. They are students of life who draw knowledge from different schools. For them the truth is not found in one philosophy.
Some people will give up all worldly pleasures, leave the intersection and ascend to higher spiritual realms. Others will fall further into attachment and descend into the pit of illusion. The ones who stay merge the best of both worlds and live a balanced life.