Most of us have heard of that old argument between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.  I mean it starts way back in school when you hear someone yell “Yeah, but that’s not what she meant!!!”  Ah, the teachable moments when kids figure out how to manipulate the system.  Good times.  Anyway, this shows up in the lives of the most well meaning and positive, spiritually attuned people.  They aren’t trying to get away with anything, at least not where it concerns others, but they are pretty much doing a sleight of hand trick on themselves.

I will be reading from their book about what they need to do and they’ll interrupt to tell me “Hey! I’m already doing that!” They will then launch off on a full description of it which elegantly describes what their book is telling them: they are going through the motions, following the letter of the practice, but not connecting to the spirit of it.  It’s the difference between someone who is Catholic because they go to mass on Sunday and someone who is Catholic because that’s who they are being 24/7 regardless of when or if they go to mass.  Letter vs. spirit.

People ask me why, after having changed so many things in their life, nothing seems to have changed.  When I look, I sometimes see the letter of the law peeking through.  So while they have changed what they do, they haven’t allowed that doing to change who they are inside or how they operate in the world.  Just going to more masses doesn’t make you more spiritual if you spend all that time doing your taxes, letting your mind release completely from you body and wander elsewhere, or making up that business presentation. You’ve just changed where you are located when you do those things. So you’re in a supposedly more spiritual and sacred space than a coffee shop, although that could be argued by coffee drinkers at 6am, but that hasn’t affected you and your spiritual journey.

So no change is an indicator that no change has happened.  Clients ask me, “How will I know when I’ve changed?” 8/  To which I work very hard to say “Because you’ll have changed.” *face palm* If you’ve changed all kinds of things in your life, changing what you do, when and how you do it, and nothing about you has changed, then you really haven’t changed anything. You might want to check and see if you’re working with the letter of the law, with the observance rather than the essence of the practice.  Because in the end, all spiritual practices are meant to connect us with ourselves.  If they aren’t doing that they might not be the right ones for us, but they might be exactly right if we actually allow them to do their work.