“I’m on the path, so how come my life’s a mess?!”

In this week’s class, Robert broached the topic of “Helping students whose lives are a mess in spite of/because of their spiritual path.” This is such a vast topic that we thought we’d continue the discussion here in this forum.

I had brought the topic up initially because I have a few students and pupils who are puzzled about how they can be committed to the Course as their spiritual path, and yet be experiencing serious health, financial, and relationship issues. My own life doesn’t seem to be smooth and easy despite what I see as my commitment to the Course as my path! Yet, surely being on a spiritual path, wanting to live a guided life, and committing our lives to God, should mean that things should work out better for us in the world. Shouldn’t they?

Robert started out by explaining that our spiritual path is not a means to get us what we want in life, but it is what life is: the journey to God. It’s about “a wholesale transformation of our minds, our relationships, and our lives.”

Here’s a summary of the reasons he then gave for why our students may be in a fix:

  • Perhaps they may not be mature enough to hold their lives together; therefore, they may see the Course as an escape. They may not be spiritually mature enough for it, and may use the Course for egocentric and immature reasons;
  • Perhaps at this point in time, the material things of their lives need more attention. Again, the Course may be an escape from having to make decisions and deal with daily life and the things of the world that would support their physical existence;
  • They may not be giving themselves fully to the path the Course sets out. Perhaps they want the path to provide a magical solution for their lives and thus they resist doing the work involved in changing their minds and “progressively shedding the ego”;
  • Then there are those whose strong and serious commitment to the Course invites the process of transformation that is described in the “Development of Trust” section in the Manual (4:1(A)). This is not an easy process, for it requires the questioning and changing of their values, the tearing down of their old lives in order to build new ones leading to spiritual transformation and rebirth. This process may take so much energy that “they don’t have the juice to pour into their external lives.”

So now that we understand the possible dynamics at play, how we can actually and concretely help our students who are in this situation?

  • Do you have experience with this?
  • How have you dealt with this question? What has worked for you?
  • What has your role been in helping your students identify the dynamics at work in them?
  • What further questions do you have about the whole topic?

As someone said to me afterwards, this class has opened a can of worms, because it brought up questions about what we can do to be truly helpful to those of our students facing this apparent dilemma. Perhaps in exploring how we can help them, we may also find answers for our own lives!