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Are only certain activities 'spiritual'?

There isn’t anything spiritual about this, apart from everything. When I was in a cult we were told that only certain activities were desirable as ‘spiritually elevating’.

Others were a waste of our time, and would only lead to ‘horizontal’ development and meant we’d risk never being ‘liberated’ in this lifetime. Ohh the pervasive irony of a cult telling you how to be free!

Cult-approved ‘Spiritual activities’ included: volunteering for the organisation, doing spiritual practice or study, sunbathing, watching spiritual films (ideally just those recommended by the guru), making spiritual art (not your art, spiritual art), being in nature (a bit), massage, having sex (in the organisation’s highly prescribed way).

I honestly struggle to think of any others. Oh, for women, cooking. Doing things like spending time with friends (ideally in the organisation) was ok, but not optimal.

This made things very goal-oriented. With every activity I was thinking about it’s ‘spiritual value’. Whether this thing with these people would help me progress spiritually or not.

This type of thinking can easily turn transactional. Instead of doing my spiritual practice out of joy, I was doing it in order to receive the change I wanted to gain from it, doing it cos I had to or I’d ‘fail’.

When I hung out with friends, I’d think about what could best be done together in that time in order to maximise our spiritual gains.

When I made love, I was seeking transcendent experiences, ticking boxes in terms of certain attitudes and energies present/not present, and taking on the positive qualities of my partner. It was very mental. It wasn’t lovemaking purely for love’s sake.

This transactional and goal-oriented approach to daily activity was highly prescriptive, which stifled spontaneity and intuition and made things very mental.

Let me be clear, this kind of thing happens in many spiritual environments, not just cults. Certain activities and lifestyle choices are considered 'conscious' (aka good) and others aren't. This binary worldview overlooks all subtleties of intention. In some ancient texts (eg the Gita) this is considered a deciding factor in creating karma.

  • Eg: coffee unspiritual

  • alcohol unspiritual

  • tea ceremony spiritual

  • mushrooms spiritual

  • ecstatic dance spiritual

  • shaking your thang in a club unspiritual

  • walk in nature spiritual

  • gym unspiritual

  • doing a 'muggle'/mainstream job unspiritual

  • starting a conscious business spiritual

I don't deny that certain things have more postiive effects on your physical and energetic bodies than others.

However, anything can be alchemical, everything can be ceremonial. If done with joy, love, presence, compassion, clear and positive intention.

To me, part of intention is the way we are feeling and thinking of others whilst doing any activity; whether it's coming from a place of love and selflessness, or whether we're doing it whilst feeling superior/judgemental, or for a selfish end.

You can be doing the most spiritual -looking meditation or yoga pose but, if you’re doing it from the ego or with a transactional attitude, what’s the point?

A few months before leaving the cult I realised; it doesn’t so much matter what I'm doing in any given moment, it’s the way I feel, the energies my heart is sending out, while I'm doing it.

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