What does Commitment have to do with the Spiritual Path?

Who hasn’t made a reckless (or not-so-reckless) commitment in a moment of duress? Please <insert divine authority>, get me out of this mess and I’ll never drink / smoke / bite my nails / lie / go home with a stranger / whatever / again.

How often, when we actually do find ourselves out of the mess, does that promise seem… silly? Unachievable? Who expects us to keep a promise like that? Especially if the ‘negative’ habit we are trying to avoid is an especially pervasive one, or the ‘positive’ habit we are trying to instill has many barriers – how often do we keep that promise?

I know my answer – not as often as I’d like.

Those promises and commitments seem silly to us later. I mean, why does God or the Universe care if I drink soda, or alcohol, or smoke, right?  However, our relationship with the divine and our own soul is as much about building trust as every physical relationship we have.

If we never keep our commitments to our friends or loved ones – what would those relationships be like?

Relationships are built the same way regardless of the medium of communication. Thus, we have every reason to believe that God / the Universe takes the commitments that we make in those moments – or any moments – very seriously.

The key is not to stop making these commitments as they actually are an important part of our relationship with the Universe / the Divine.  However, if we’re having trouble keeping those kinds of commitments, we may need to be more circumspect about what we commit to in the moment.

One option is to avoid committing to a totally unattainable goal.  For example, my default commitment is to stop picking my lips.  An uncommon but pernicious habit since childhood, my lips look quite destroyed when I’m stressed or bored or even just thinking because I compulsively pick at them.

Because this is the habit I feel most ashamed of and want to be free of, the promise to stop doing it is both the one I most often make and the one I most often break.  Here we’re touching on a core motivation of these kinds of commitments. There are particular habits we want to stop (or start) and, by extension, we think the Universe or our higher self also cares about whether we do these things or not.

Depending on the habit – that may or may not be true.  However, if we make a promise that is unachievable we are setting ourselves up to fail.  The commitments we make to the Universe need to be meaningful, they need to matter to us – but we don’t need to start by forcing ourselves to deal with the most difficult things in our lives.

Aside from trying to be careful of the commitments we make, the other key factor is that we need to respect these commitments once we’ve made them.

We can sometimes review the situation that provoked us to make a promise from a point of ‘illusory clarity’ after it’s over; I was never really in any danger or It was silly that I was so worried about this, etc. and, by extension, imagining ourselves ‘off-the-hook’ for any commitments we made in our momentary distress.

On the contrary, we are very much on the hook for any promises we made.  Every time I break a commitment (and I’m no saint, I’ve broken plenty), there is an erosion of trust in both my relationship with my soul-self and my relationship the Universe. I can feel an anticipatory twinge of guilt the next time I make a promise… am I really going to keep it this time?

On the upside, keeping these promises builds trust and strengthens the relationship between the embodied self and Universe (as well as the soul-self).  A strong relationship between ourselves and the Universe allows us to make the most of our current life at all levels; emotionally (relationships), financially, and – when we’re ready – to do the deep soul-self work that will help us master the lessons we came here to learn.

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