One-liners have become quite popular, but unfortunately even the most spiritual of statements can be twisted into something loveless, ruthless and compassionless. This has resulted in many spiritual concepts which have been minimized into short statements, re-played over and over again in the online space like memes, but they remain misunderstood because the essence of the multi-layered deeper wisdom has been lost.
The problem isn’t that they are shared as one-liners per se, in fact it is amazing and so beneficial that we have the internet to educate ourselves and find so much information – but rather the problem is that we very rarely delve deeper into the concepts, and our search ends with a mere sentence. Essentially, we rob ourselves of a deepening. Spirituality, just like love, takes effort and time. We often want articles with steps: steps about how to live better lives, how to have better relationships, yet it shouldn’t be more than seven steps, because our attention spans have diminished significantly and we’ll just scroll to the next article, especially if it has more pictures. But that’s not how life works. That’s not how love works. That’s not what spirituality is. There are no quick fixes – things take time, and we need to allow ourselves the deepening and the understanding.
What this all actually leads to, despite its immediate gratification and pleasure of quick knowledge or “just enough”, is a constant state of ambiguity – which in turn leads to problems down the line, including uncertainty, anxiety, self-doubt, confusion, disempowerment, lack of integrity, and detriment to self-growth. This is also reflected in modern relationships: People are giving just enough, not to feel alone but to get the reward of affection, yet certainly not giving too much to put in the real effort, to compromise, and become trapped in their own unwilligness, or fear, to commit or experience real intimacy and depth.
There can also be danger with misunderstood concepts, statements and incomplete truths, because it can lead to disempowerment, unhealthy behaviours, illusions, deflection from self, and limitation to growth and maturity . In fact, all incomplete truth and/or knowledge can be dangerous.
When anything is shared without context or deeper understanding, problems can arise. In the old days, certain spiritual concepts were shared only with the more advanced students who were initiated – because the student had to be ready to perceive and receive it. In fact, often times, highly esoteric and spiritual truths are written in riddles or hidden between seemingly ordinary words in texts or mainstream articles, which will be seen and perceived only by those who are on that level of consciousness. As the mystics will say: All information is already out there, there are no secrets – you just need the eyes to see it.
When certain “truths” are shared before their time, or out of place, that can come at the detriment of the person, because they just don’t have the ability to process it and integrate it within their consciousness. In pure esotericism, “good is all that is in its place, and bad is all that is out of its place.” For example, water is good in its place in the ocean, in our cup to drink, or in the flower pots to nourish the soil, but if it’s out of its place, water can be bad – it can take out our fire and we’d freeze, it’d overwater the flower pots, or it can flood a house. Therefore, any virtue, no matter how holy it might be, is good only if it is in its place and harmful if it’s out of place.
This is why even the concept of karma can be a dangerous topic. With our self-limiting believes and perceptions conditioned to the human existence, our minds are too restricted to ever fully understand higher consciousness. I hope we never forget that because we carry a responsibility in our energy. We need to accept that we just don’t know it all. The humility in this deserves to be treasured.
Life itself is about perspectives, and there are many layers, interdependent and multi-dimensional. This is why we need to spend more time, and understand the essence of the concepts. Good and bad are perspectives; what’s pleasure for one may be pain for another in the mutual exchange. We can’t always see the long-term higher perspective of our role and contribution to a situation. So may be just like that – there is a continual dance between the “good” and the “bad” – between dark and light – mortality and immortality – life and decay – and like yin and yang, we are reminded that both are needed to flow freely as they need. And the waning moon is always held by the waxing. Like I wrote about in the Faces of God, discussing my thoughts on karma, everything in life is a relationship; and to see the face of God, perhaps we have to accept the dance of the multi-dimensionality. But many one-liners have become a dogma, and we’ve become more inclined towards absolutist thinking.
Absolutism causes nuances and beautiful complexities to sink into the water like stones. And we miss opportunities for a deepening, for love, for a meaningful growth. We lose kindness and compassion also.
It is a guiding intuition of our exploration that would show us that nothing is one-dimensional. Everything is a perspective, and this is what spirituality is anyway: an opening and expansion of more perceptions.
Here are some statements that are often misunderstood, and we could reconsider and reflect more on, applying our own discernment and critical thinking:
“I am not responsible for how you feel.”
While we are only in control of our own reactions and responsible for our own energy, this statement does not imply that we hurt or harm someone by our words and actions.
While we are not responsible for how someone interpreted our statements or how they might have triggered them, we are definitely responsible for not harming others. I’ve witnessed people who would say the rudest things and then say, “Well, I was just being honest”. No – they were being hurtful.
Being honest in our conversations and staying in our truths is not the same as crossing someone’s boundaries, being disrespectful, inappropriate, lashing out, or hurting someone, or giving them unasked opinions. And when we do cause someone harm by our actions and words, or crossing their boundaries in any shape or form – we are very much responsible for how they felt.
When we adopt such philosophy as an absolute truth, we are essentially separating ourselves from others. And a big part of self-empowerment is the recognition and acceptance that we also affect others with our actions, thoughts and words; it is an understanding of interdependence, and of our role and contribution to everything and everyone around us.
“Everything is a mirror – you’re just projecting.”
The concept of mirroring can unfortunately become a way to deflect being held accountable for irresponsible, unreasonable or even harmful behavior, and/or to assert carelessness in our actions because we accuse everyone of projecting all the time. Mirroring implies resonance; it implies that we have experience and a kind of knowing of a pattern or a trait or a feeling, and this is why it is easier for us to recognize it in another.
But what we are perceiving in others deepens as our own consciousness advances. In other words, the more aware we are, the deeper the mirror becomes, connecting us to all and everything, and we can then perceive patterns in others that may not necessarily be traits within us at this current moment – and perhaps, they never even were streams of our own consciousness anyway. In this way, if we are recognizing something in someone, it may not be a projection or reflection of us, as much as it is a higher recognition of them.
Through mirroring, we may be perceiving something that we ourselves are suppressing and have little awareness of; or something that we are currently working on and our focus is on it; or something that we have already overcome; or something that we are just deeply knowing of because we’ve reached a level of consciousness that allows us to have this wisdom and clear perception of another person.
So when someone is “seeing a mirror”, and recognizing a pattern within us, it can be indeed through a projection, but it can also be because of deep knowing, wisdom and clarity of perception.
It would be inaccurate to assume that all mirroring is a subconscious projection and that the person is unaware. It would be dismissive to act like that. People can and do see unhealthy patterns in others because of their own conscious wisdom. And/But we also certainly shouldn’t use the concept of mirroring as a way to deflect from our own personal accountability and assert our carelessness.
The essence of mirroring is self-awareness and inward looking – not outer, not deflecting. Like all else in life, and especially the ambiguity of the spiritual realms, it can be used to good or not-so good depending on our own consciousness. The key is as always – discernment, which comes from self-knowledge. The more we know ourselves, and shed light on the tiny corners of our psyche, the better we’ll be able to discern what’s ours and what isn’t.
“You attract what you are.”
This is another one-liner, which can, and is, easily misunderstood. A part of who we are is knowing who we are not. And the way to understand that is by being faced with situations and people who may not be so great for us. In the way we respond to them and the situation, we can understand more deeply ourselves. And this is one of the reason why we incarnate anyway.
When we incarnate into a progressively denser reality like the 3d, we have the opportunity to work on our vibrational frequency by gaining deeper self-knowledge – and we can only do that by having a human mind. We can’t “ascend” if we are in purely energy body.
Realities here on earth become denser and more diverse – and everything becomes more individuated and tangible. In this way, we have opportunity to experience these individualities more clearly; we can mix things and threads together, and see ourselves more precisely in these split threads of our consciousness, thereby understanding what we are and what we no longer are, and raise our consciousness. Essentially, this reality allows for depth.
So let’s say that someone has attracted a friend who constantly gossips and talks behind people’s backs. Does that mean that they should be labelled as a gossiper “because they attracted a gossiper”? All this means is that they have an opportunity to reveal yet another layer of themselves by the way they respond to the situation. Would they engage in such unhealthy behaviour? Would they stay friends with that person? How do they respond and react to them? When the gossiper starts gossiping about them too, would they stand up for themselves and their self-respect and walk away? Or would they do onto them the same?
And it is certainly toxic to tell, or even imply, to people who are going through a hard time that they attracted it, so it’s a reflection on them. Whether true or not, it’s not up to us to make such statements and judgments.
“Everything in life is a lesson.”
Versions of this can be: “The greatest pains bring the greatest gains,” or “It’s your karma.”
This is an incomplete truth and what we must be mindful of is when and to whom we say this to, if at all. It can actually be a very toxic statement to say because it creates a sense of defeated-ness in those who are still going through their pain, and for those who maybe will not achieve their greatest gains despite their pains. It perpetuates emotions of self-blame and self-guilt, which are incredibly destructive. It also becomes an unconscious expectation that we can only learn through the hard times. No, we don’t have to suffer to learn something, and we must also allow ourselves to go through the emotions freely during challenging times rather than painting over them with “learned lessons”, which may cause a suppression of emotions such as grief and anger. Of course, we all want to give ourselves comfort in understanding the purpose of things, to have a higher perspective, because this gives us peace. But when it’s done prematurely, when the wounds are still very fresh, we are essentially stopping ourselves in our healing process.
Is there a purpose to it all? Of course. And karma is certainly real too. But with our self-limiting believes and perceptions conditioned to the human existence, our minds are too restricted to ever fully understand higher consciousness, and the entirety of karma, especially for another person. I hope we never forget that because we carry a responsibility in our energy.
We need to accept that everyone walking earth has certain blind spots – and that we just don’t know it all. The humility in this deserves to be treasured.
We all look for answers to “why” when something stressful happens. And it is understandable – it gives us peace. And if we can find a higher perspective and a purpose – we need to and we should. But if we can’t – we shouldn’t delve and dissect to the point of re-traumatizing ourselves if we are still vulnerable. There is a danger with too much introspection. And on the other hand – pretending everything is “love and light” is just as unhealthy and disempowering: it’s avoidance and suppression of feelings, and leads us to think we can’t handle anything outside of this.
Sometimes bad things happen and it really hurts, we are still human; and no matter the greater purpose, we need to allow ourselves, and others, to go through the grief freely without dissecting everything, if it isn’t helping us to do so.
When we break a foot, it hurts and needs healing – no matter how much “everything is a vibration”, the pain is real and needs physical healing, which needs time. Telling the person with the broken foot to just go and walk it off, because it’s all in their mind and perception, is just as meaningless as telling someone with a broken heart to just “open themselves to the experience.”
Any healer and doctor will tell you: We can’t go against the pain, things need time, tenderness and compassion. And if we are in the role of the healer, our job is to walk them home, in a kindness of rhythm, gently guiding them, while also allowing them to come to their own understanding and awareness in their own time, no matter how long it takes. Moreover, telling a person who is currently suffering that it is their karma, is incredibly toxic, and it is in a way, siding with the one who hurt them.
When we start talking about “karma” and “learning lessons” especially to someone experiencing suffering or pain in any shape or form, it is incredibly inappropriate. And unfortunately, in our modern world of taking wisdom from social media memes, these statements are just everywhere.
Throwing around words with little understanding of what they mean can be dangerous especially to those more vulnerable and imbalanced. And we have to understand that not everyone can perceive what we can currently, and so some “truths” should be kept private; we have to allow one another to realize our own truths on our own timing. Spiritual teachers of higher integrity understand this, and know when to share something, and when not to. They would never go around talking about “karma” to someone who is going through hardship. When we say things prematurely, it can be damaging to the human psyche band at the detriment to the spiritual growth and healing of the person, because they don’t have the awareness and ability to handle this information yet.
Spiritual egos can often compound trauma in victims. Their intention isn’t to heal or help, but to elevate their own sense of spiritual identity, thereby perpetuating separation of the experience from the other person. It is usually because they have no solution for the problem or don’t want to face their own shadows.
Unfortunately many one-liners have become a law onto themselves, have become a dogma. And when cultures are collectively selfish, even spirituality and the most beautiful of things, can become twisted in something loveless, ruthless and compassionless.
Grace trumps all.
It is not too little, it is not too small, it’s enough. Grace trumps karma too. There are always decisions to be made – and just because someone has come into our life, ready to “pay back” a debt they owe from this life or another, doesn’t mean we have to do onto them as they’ve done onto us before. It is precisely in our times of power and control, when we have the upper hand, that what we choose to do essentially reveals who we are. Our choices and how we respond is what will pave our way, and we don’t have to be stuck on a wheel. That’s not how the wheel turns anyway. And perhaps this is one of the reasons why we shouldn’t remember our past lives – so that we can truly see who we are and make choices based on today. So when people go around and say, “Well, you did them wrong but it was their karma for what they got anyway” – No. It doesn’t have to be that way. This crime and punishment mentality is limiting, restrictive, and disempowering. We can always choose to step into a higher vibration, open a new doorway through the initiatory pathway of our heart, and move away from unhealthy people with peace, while still being very clear in our boundaries and knowing our worth.
Grace marries love and compassion, kindness and forgiveness, and what shapes it is our human hands and human hearts along the circling rivers of life.
We all know this. When our hands have been touched by someone’s grace, they scent of its perfume long after. And we touch others’ too. And so it all continues. And no wind can ever end the skies of such love.
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Cover photography by Thomas Gunillasson.