“Nature Never Duplicates a Path”: Your Spiritual Independence is Important and Unique

Copyright 2006 Tom Russell

Why is spiritual independence important? Because it allows you to make the higher discoveries of your heart through your own perceptions on your spiritual journey. This means you must find your own way, which ultimately will be unique to you.

For example, a sea captain acts from his direct perceptions (weather conditions, the ship’s capabilities, and so on) combined with his past experiences, including teachings from mentors and leaders. Ultimately, he’ll develop his own style and won’t be like any other captain on the seven seas. He’ll react to his perceptions—a change in weather, perhaps—in his own unique manner.

Those who are independent have no wish for conformity; their spirituality is unique to each of them. As Vernon Howard has said, “Nature never duplicates a path.” Here’s what he wrote on that subject in his classic book The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power:

“Dare to make up your mind about puzzling matters, even if you make a mistake. It is necessary to exercise your own mind if you are ever to reduce and abolish mistakes. Don’t let other people make mistakes for you; have the courage to make your own. A small tree cannot grow to full height when sheltered by a large tree.”

The following NowFacts—concise statements that transform daily events into opportunities for insight and spiritual growth—give you tools to develop authentic independence at a practical level every day as you proceed on your spiritual journey.

NowFact A: “That is your fear (worry, problem, or regret) not mine.”

Dependence causes us to assume that others’ negative feelings belong to us. The energy of independence informs us that negative feelings are present, but we don’t have to pick them up and own them. We harm people when we take in their negative atmosphere and pass it back to them. We help others and ourselves when we neutralize negativity at the door—before it has a chance to enter our thinking.

“That is your _______, not mine” also has great power in the inner world as you inform darkness that its worries, problems, and regrets are not your own.

NowFact B: “Others enjoy my company to the degree I enjoy my own.”

Anytime you see yourself struggling to make a good impression, you can employ this NowFact to let go of strained effort and enjoy your own company.

You’ll find a rich, purpose-filled, and independent life by inhabiting the domain of your central self. This domain is charming and attractive, with true kindness that effortlessly benefits others. Increasingly, you’ll enjoy being alone with your real nature and when you’re with others, you’ll feel socially competent and at ease.

NowFact C: “Who are you trying to kid?”

This NowFact informs negative inner states that they no longer possess power. Also, when you silently say this to other people, this NowFact conveys the same message. Be careful not to think this from a place of superiority or hostility. Simply state it as the bright question that it is.

NowFact D: “If you know what’s best for me, why are you so miserable?”

This truth can seem hard and uncaring, but it’s the exact opposite; it’s filled with compassion. Often, other people are eager to manage your life. Use this direct NowFact to call a halt to any pernicious, determined efforts to dominate your thinking and spiritual quest. Outwardly be firm and resolute; inwardly be tender toward the offender. Silently voice this NowFact from pure perception, without hostility or self-righteousness.

Behind the controlling person’s hard and brittle façade is a great cave of anguish; this insight is true compassion. Such mature and truly spiritual conduct on your part may be the one chance the “bulldozer” has to break the painful pattern and begin to recover. He or she may one day ponder this question: “Here’s someone who’s not afraid. I wonder why?”

NowFact E: “I will learn to live without you 100 percent.”

This silent statement has a specific application: Direct it to the strained smile that appears when you try to appease someone or gain their approval. Calmly yet firmly inform your tense facial muscles while saying, “I will learn to live without you 100 percent.”

You’ll have many opportunities to use this statement to develop authentic independence. As a result, your inner world will be more at ease and the quality of your relationships will rise. Don’t direct anger or self-condemnation toward the strained smile, but simply state this NowFact and its strength will be felt within you.

NowFact F: “Just a minute. Whose life is this?”

You have a right to your own energy, time, and attention. It’s never selfish to live your life as you see fit; it’s selfish only to insist that other people live as you see fit.

Yes, we have responsibilities to nurture our children and perform our daily work reliably and efficiently. However, when we take responsibility for things other adults must do for themselves, we rob them of their chance to develop, whether it’s a work task or an action related to their spiritual journey.

Much evil is done in the name of “helping” people. You owe nothing to adults except a mature mind and spirit, and they owe nothing to you but the same.

Drop anxious searching for a teacher—let truth teach you

Remember that a true teacher encourages independence and self-reliance. False teachers like the big show of many followers, new buildings, and large amounts of money; these are enticing to the ego. Keep in mind, though, that the blind cannot lead the blind. Even groups with genuine value can have entangling undercurrents. Wisdom seekers who treasure independence can profitably participate in these groups and not get caught in their undercurrents.

Independence is a higher state of learning because it’s receptive and flexible; it’s free of the desire to conform and please. As my friend and mentor Dr. Chapin often said, “Be your own person, think with your own mind, and stand on your own two feet.”

Experiencing real spiritual growth is transformative—like a change in the sea. And like the ship’s captain, you’ll develop your own, independent style and react to your spiritual perceptions in your own unique manner.