Who are You without Your Spiritual Story?

By Jeff Foster on Thursday April 12th, 2018

Image: Nathan Dumlao

I Want to Know Your Precious Heart

Please, don’t talk to me about ‘Pure Awareness’ or ‘Dwelling in the Absolute.’
I want to see how you treat your partner,
your kids, your parents, your precious body.

Please, don’t lecture me about ‘the illusion of the separate self’ or how you achieved permanent bliss in just seven days.
I want to feel a genuine warmth radiating from your heart.
I want to hear how well you listen,
take in information that doesn’t fit your personal philosophy.
I want to see how you deal with people who disagree with you.

Don’t tell me how awakened you are, how free you are from ego.
I want to know you beneath the words.
I want to know what you’re like when troubles befall you.
If you can fully allow your pain and not pretend to be invulnerable.
If you can feel your anger yet not step into violence.
If you can grant safe passage to your sorrow yet not be its slave.

Who are you?I want to know YOU. Before ‘the spiritual one.’ Before all the clever words. Image: Rendiansyah Nugroho

If you can feel your shame and not shame others:
If you can fuck up, and admit it.
If you can say ‘sorry’, and really mean it.
If you can be fully human in your glorious divinity.

Don’t talk to me about your spirituality, friend.
I’m really not that interested.

I only want to meet YOU.
Know your precious heart.
Know the beautiful human struggling for the light.

Before ‘the spiritual one’.
Before all the clever words.

How do you feel about this article? Join the conversation.




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31 Responses to Who are You without Your Spiritual Story?

  1. Hi,
    I just had this poem read to me by my partner. Finally someone writes what I have thought about for a long time. It gives confirmation to my beliefs on why we are here. Thank you for this piece.
    Cheers, Graeme

  2. Lovely lovely. I have tried to tell my husband to talk about his feeling and his heart and not all about spirituality and you said them all. I will send it to him, so he might get the message.

  3. And that’s the exact reason, spiritual bypassing, that I started learning & teaching & practicing NVC for the past 12 years. To put some skin and heart into American Buddhism. Nonviolent Communication provided the missing link in all of our spiritualities. But I found that it is actuality the western culture that is emotionally stunted, and spiritual venues of all kinds collects us wounded souls, many of whom project some kind of saviour mentality into their spiritual project. Thi avoidance of emotional truth and heart warmth, the kitchen sink of humaneness, is called spiritual bypassing.

  4. I’ve been seeing this in my Buddhist communities for decades. Not much warmth. Emotional disconnectedness. Averse to feeling and honestly expressing pain, even though Buddha’s First Noble Truth acknowledges the truth of suffering. Thanks for calling this out so well, Jeff!

  5. I have just returned to following you Jeff with what you share here, and I can relate to what you say. I realized what say you do not want to hear about is what I too encountered, what I became, while I was on my so-called spiritual quest. It is also the reason why I abandoned this so-called spirituality and decided I am better off just being human again. Thank you, Jeff. What you speak is what I do want to listen to, what I want to know.

  6. Thanks so much for this post that reflects the spiritual bypassing that happens when we are not embodied and dealing with raw daily life isues.

    All people including myself, that are on the spiritual path also know this trap if staying vulnerable open and reflecting.

    Greatful to help parents that are on the spiritual path for a long time and dealing with divorce. Here the proof is in eating the pudding! Now it matters that we stay connected and are there for our children while dealing with loss and all kind of emotions. Now our spiritual path can eather help us or bypass us … choose wisely to ask for some help, bow and ask who you want to be before your children.

  7. Talking to a Christian would not be able to separate it. Give anxieties to God focus on jesus and trust in him…..

  8. It makes it sound like spirituality is a bad thing. I guess it all depends on your definition of spirituality.

  9. I love this, thank you. Shades of Rudyard Kiplong’s poem “If” which I’ve always thought had wisdom, as long as the final line could also refer to women! Many years ago I went to a seminar led by someone who actually lived their life as an illusion…..but whose partner made sure all the practical details were dealt with to enable this to happen. I wasn’t very long into yoga practice at that time and just thought it was hypocrisy.

  10. thank you for expressing so well the call for realness and deeper connection of an open vulnerable embodied human being..

  11. This is so well expressed. I’ve met some extraordinarily cruel spiritual people. Tuning into the now does not mean tuning out of humanity.

  12. Being true to one self and treating others as equals is the key
    A dirty needs to be cleaned more from inside than from outside.

  13. Well this is so on point and sometimes I don’t balance things well yet I’ve acknowledged almost all my flaws nd believe me it’s written down and I go what progress av I made so far and in that process something happens and I snap and the first thing “they” say is People like myself we are too tough like Religiously thats what “they” go for then I go it’s better you uncover the mask am wearing before “they” judge I mean just try to be emphatic. I’m sorry am different and I’m able to respect “them” much more than they are able to. Cause really I know what it means to trample on others just to feel significant I’ve been there but not anymore Cause I’ll always nd always strive to be better.

  14. You hit the bullseye! This is what I’ve been trying to express to my husband for years. He is a trained prayer chaplain, and a good one. But in day to day life, he does all the things this article says “don’t. ” Thank you for this eye opener, and tools I can use.

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