Jul 11, 2020
Is it time to forget the concept of 'spiritual journey' and just focus on what is making us suffer? I'm Steven Webb your host of Stillness in the Storms, and I think sometimes things like the spiritual journey can make things worse.
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Transcript of podcast:
Just a word of warning: If you want to replace your suffering, do not embark on a spiritual journey. I'm Steven Webb, and this is Stillness In The Storms. I help you to find a little more inner peace in life. I help to reduce your suffering so you can actually enjoy the freedoms of being who you are and, well, enjoy your life a lot more rather than suffering. On this podcast, I'm going to talk about when we embark on that spiritual journey and when we become attached to the spiritual journey, and then we end up with more suffering, adding suffering to our lives. And I want to talk about an alternative to this focus of waking up and spiritual journey and the spiritual growth or personal growth.
But just before that, I want to say, thank you to my patrons and thank you to my supporters on Facebook. I know have a supporter's status on Facebook, so you can click on my Facebook page and click support and you can head over to my website. It's the end of the day and I'm tired. For some reason, it's quite warm around there at the moment. It could be somewhere, actually, for some reason, it's quite warm. See, just talking about it without thinking. Well, it's warm around here and it's summer and that's why I'm not sleeping brilliantly. It's the end of the day, it's seven o'clock and I'm recording the podcast. Normally, I would have more energy in the morning.
Anyway, you can head over to stevenwebb.com where there's meditation available. There are all kinds of things available for you to have a little more inner peace in life. This podcast will help you to skip that subtle suffering. I did it when I wanted to reduce my suffering, I embarked on a walk, now on a "spiritual journey" and really, I realized I was just replacing more suffering with more suffering. So this podcast is going to tell you what not to do. If you want to reduce your suffering, don't embark on a spiritual journey. That's a separate thing.
So I think the best place to start is my story. You would think my biggest challenge in life would have been overcoming being paralyzed when I broke my neck at 18. The 12 months lying in bed and getting out of bed and fighting back and living my life and I thought that would have been my biggest challenge. It really wasn't. My biggest challenge was when I hit my rock bottom. I was 40 years old and I was in town and I can't remember why I went into town, but I went into Boots in the UK and it was a busy, busy store. They sell all kinds of wellbeing products, but they sell everything from medicines to toothpaste to anything that makes you smell nice and look good.
Anyway, I was coming up to the doorway and my wheelchair just ground to a halt and stopped. And I looked down and there was a black mark on the floor and a wire had gone around the axle of my left wheel. The tire had a hole in it and it started to go down and I couldn't drive back or forward. I was about three meters from the door and the security guard standing on a little platform just to my left in front of me. And I started crying. I just didn't know what to do anymore. I just let it all out. I was bawling my eyes out and yeah, I'm a man, I'm a crier, okay.
You know, that's all right. I cry at emotional adverts. I cry at films. I cry when a league character falls out of love and all that. I'm an emotional person. I'm a man and I cry. I'm Steven Webb and I cry.
Meanwhile, I sat in the doorway and I was crying and the security guard walked over to me and stood next to me and placed his hand on my shoulder and just give that gentle reassurance squeeze. And it was enough for me to just feel at ease. I'm not sure whether he was an absolutely Zen master genius in knowing how to comfort someone or he just really didn't know what to say; it's probably the latter, but I was so grateful for it. After what seemed like a few minutes, he let go of my shoulder; it was probably 10 seconds. He let go of my shoulder and said, "How can I help?"
And I said, "Well, I just have to call my friend and get him down to help me."
So I phoned Alan, my friend, and he came down with my sister and they dragged the chair out the back. It was so busy. There were so many people, it was like a Friday or Saturday afternoon, I cannot remember which. It was a sunny day and there were so many people in the street; here I was, bawling my eyes out. My face was a mess and they pushed me into the back of the van. I got home and I managed to get it in through the house. I had no money, I had no way of getting it fixed. I didn't know what I was going to do. I found myself, single, I was not sleeping, I was desperate and I was hurting. I was, well, can I say I was suffering? I was suffering so badly at that time.
It wasn't one single thing. It was loads of things that just got on top of me. One thing after another, it was as if for months I've been teetering on the edge of a cliff and suddenly that one thing in town, it pushed me over. And for ages, I was ordering stuff off Amazon with a spare 2% on the credit card that I just paid off my minimum 2% payment, just for a little pick me ups. I was drinking in order to go to sleep. I was messaging friends at night, "Hey, how are you? Hi, I haven't seen you since school." I thought I was being sociable. I thought I was like, hey, look at me. I'm been awesomely sociable. No, I was fucking lonely. I was lonely, I was desperate, I was miserable and I was suffering and I had to do something about it.
After a couple of weeks of drinking alcohol, just to go sleep, it never really worked. I would wake up two hours later and because I've got carers to do everything because I'm paralyzed, I couldn't call a carer at two o'clock in the morning and said, "Oh, can you pour me another glass of Southern Comfort, please?" That would have been embarrassing and wrong. That's not what they're here for. After a couple of weeks, I realized my ways, I realized the dangerous direction I was going in. I found a book, James Allen: As A Man Thinketh. I hadn't read anything since I was about seven years old when I was diagnosed with dyslexia. I just didn't think reading was really something that was accessible to me so it took me so long to read this book. I was literally reading the paragraph again and again and again.
My dyslexia is not understanding what I read and it wasn't picked up for a long time. I would literally read a page in a book and if anybody had asked me, what did you just read? What was the main character? What was the emphasis? What was the context of it? I wouldn't have known, I would have had no idea. So it wasn't really picked up until people realized that I was unable to copy off the board at school. So the teacher would write down the board and then I was reading off the board and what I was writing, wasn't what was on the board. And the teacher, Mrs. Hoban, started to ask me questions. And so, yeah, I was diagnosed. That was in the late 70s so they didn't know what to do with people that was dyslexic at the time. It was a new thing. I had just started extra reading classes and it didn't really make a lot of difference. I didn't believe that I could read so I didn't.
So I read this book and it was enough to close down my thoughts temporarily. And the main message from this book was, you're not what you think and question your thoughts. Just because you have a thought, it doesn't make it true. They were brilliant bits of wisdom and I started to live to that. But then I started looking into these things a bit more, and all these books were telling me to meditate. Well, I couldn't meditate because I couldn't switch my mind off, which I now know that's hocus-pocus. It's not about switching your mind off, but I believed I couldn't meditate. So all of these options were not open to me. Then I met a couple of teachers and I read Eckhart Tolle's book. I read a few other people's books and I got into meditation. It was working but here's the problem. After about a year or so of this working that I was improving myself, I started suffering again. Not to the extent I suffered before, it was more subtle than that.
My life was much better. I was better meditating, I was calmer. I wasn't lashing out at different things. So my life was a big improvement, but I started to suffer relative to how I was doing. I was no longer improving, I was suffering. So again, I had to look at why I was suffering. It was because I embarked on a nice spiritual journey and the spiritual journey meant you had to do things a certain way. I had to do it the way the teacher said it. Meditate more, meditate this many hours, do this, do this a certain way. The spiritual journey means more compassionate, more understanding. It means you've got to love people and you know what? I was getting so attached to this spiritual journey that I thought that once I just embark on this spiritual journey, when I get to the end of the road, I will be awake and wise and I would be a Zen master. I would be enlightened. I will be all these things.
The problem is I started to suffer again. I suffered because I didn't have what I wanted. When I hit my rock bottom, I wanted the end to the suffering. I got a long way there when I started out just reducing my suffering, but then when reducing my suffering and when I was feeling a lot better, that wasn't enough so then, I wanted to make the reduced suffering into happiness and joy and blissfulness, and enlightenment. So I embarked on the journey only to find more suffering along the way because I was then focused again on what I didn't have. In that shop doorway, I didn't have happiness. I just wanted to be happy. On the spiritual journey, I wanted enlightenment and I was unhappy because I didn't have that.
So this is why I say, look, if you're suffering in life and you're really finding it hard to get through days, waking up in the morning and getting your head off the pillow, and you go to bed at night and you're going through the things you did wrong that day or things you would like it to be and you're just basically feeling damn miserable or you're tired, or you're just struggling or fed up, don't look to a spiritual journey or spiritual teachers. They may give you a little bit of hand. They may point you in the right direction. The irony is exactly what I'm doing now, but let's ignore the irony and the BS and all that rubbish for the moment. Just look at your life and think, where am I suffering most? Where does my suffering come from?
When I did that, after a few weeks of reading As A Man Thinketh, I realized most of my suffering came from me. Yes, even my wheelchair breaking, how could my wheelchair break and be me? Well, I ignored the exposed wires for weeks on the hope they would go away. I was shopping on Amazon, building up my debt, not paying my bills. I was not eating healthy. I was eating takeaways just to improve my day. So, yes, my health, my tiredness, my not sleeping, my debt, and all that was my fault. Don't get me wrong, you can't suddenly look up and go, "Oh, that's where I'm suffering. Let's go change it and suddenly I'll be wealthy and happy and spiritually embraced."
No, you won't be, but if you can reduce your suffering 1% today, "I'm not going to talk to myself negatively." And if that improves this moment, brilliant, you've done it. And now tomorrow, improve yourself another 1%, the next day, another 1%; eat an apple, improves you 1%. If you want to be healthier, drink more water. Drink a couple of glasses of water in the morning and in the afternoon. I don't even like saying just 1% because it becomes an arbitrary figure; just each day, reduce your suffering a little more each time. Focus on reducing suffering and bringing more normalness to your life because the suffering is not normal. Suffering is below normal so bring more normal into your life.
I think I've done a podcast on the happiness line. I really urge you to check that out. I'll put a link underneath this podcast to the happiness line. To briefly say what the happiness line is you've got a line across the middle of the page, that is your mundane line that's doing your hoovering. That's getting you out of bed in the morning. That's just going to work, doing the normal things in life that doesn't necessarily make you happy, but they ain't gonna hurt you either. You know, the things that need doing, changing the quilt, unless you have a fetish for changing quilts, then that's above the line.
I have a fetish for clean quilts, and I'm very aware that the Americans don't know what I'm talking about when I talk about quilts. I'm talking about that really big fluffy thing that we put on the top of beds that have a cover on them. It's also known as a duvet. But who doesn't like having a bed with a nice clean quilt, and a clean pillow? Anyway, I digress. So if you want to reduce your suffering, just think about why am I suffering? How can I reduce it just a little bit each day? Forget the spiritual journey. Forget any kind of concept of enlightenment or blissfulness or things. If you want bliss, go to a concert, have bliss for a couple of hours and recognize that is a great experience.
It's not where you can live because you cannot live there. It's like expecting to have intimacy with someone and fill in that really big high, and then expecting that high to be constant all the time. No, that's not life. Life's not going to be like that. There are things to enjoy, but when your suffering is caused by you simply because you're blaming everybody else or you're blaming your circumstances, when you can reduce your suffering a little bit every day, just do that. Grab a pen and piece of paper; what one thing will you do in the next two hours that will reduce your suffering? That's simple. Forget concepts, forget all the BS. Forget all the other things that, "Oh, just read this book and you will feel wonderful and brilliant."
I'm not saying don't read those books. I'm just saying don't become attached to them. Don't replace your attachment to reducing your suffering to attachment, to wanting some kind of enlightenment or something. It doesn't exist. It's not somewhere to get to. You're not going to suddenly go, well, hey, I'm enlightened. I can live happily ever after. It's not something you can get to. You can have an enlightened action just like you can have a nice cup of coffee. I'm not saying enlightened and coffee are the same before you want to become a cup of coffee. I'm just saying, it's an action, it's an experience. It's something that you can do in a moment. An enlightened action is not adding fuel to the fire. An enlightened action is not increasing the suffering for yourself or somebody else in the moment. An enlightened action is skillful action. But forget all about that, just how can you reduce your suffering? And don't replace it with the spiritual journey.
I'm Steven Webb, your host, and this is Stillness In The Storms. And if you enjoy this podcast, please share it. I want to grow my audience. I want to help more people, I want to reach more people. And I have some really exciting things happening over the next couple of months that I cannot say now, but I am so excited about it, I kind of want to share it with you, but I cannot the moment because we're just putting the finalized pieces together.
You can head over to my website, stevenwebb.com and you can find free meditations. You can sign up to my weekly wisdom newsletter. You can do all sorts of things, just don't embark on the spiritual journey if you just want to reduce your suffering at the moment. Take care, guys. I love you. Thank you for spending this time with me. Don't forget to bookmark this page. Leave a review if you can, comment; whatever you can, it all helps me and give me some honest, brilliant feedback. Namaste.