As you read these sentences, notice how your mind reacts to each one:
Only by raising your vibrational frequency will you ascend from 3D to 5D.
Only by taking Jesus Christ as your savior will you be saved and go to heaven.
Only by experiencing the emptiness of all form will you become enlightened and reach nirvana.
Only by being in the present moment will you experience the power of the now.
Only by resolving your karma will you achieve moksha and escape samsara.
Only by cultivating unconditional love for all will you find true peace and happiness in life.
Some of these sentences might speak to you, others might leave you puzzled, and still others might make you bristle.
If you are a Christian who resonates with the second sentence, you may find yourself recoiling at the first one. The person who embraces the New Age concepts of multidimensionality in the first sentence might nod approvingly when reading the fourth one, and raise an eyebrow when reading the third or the fifth one.
Yet they all share the same message. They all speak to a belief that it is possible to reach a state of being that is different from the emotional ups and downs that human beings typically experience in life.
Even if different traditions try to convey similar spiritual concepts, we speak different languages. We use jargon and obscure vocabulary words, leaving people scratching their heads. Or we hear words we’ve heard many times, and the association or baggage that comes with them is just too much for us to listen.
We are offending each other at the level of language, not necessarily with competing views. In truth, we speak different spiritual “dialects.”
Why Is This a Problem?
What’s the issue? Is this a problem?
I believe it is, for the one simple reason that spirituality is, at root, about creating unity and connection.
Jargon can play a useful role in describing aspects of the spiritual path that more conventional language cannot describe. But when we speak only in one register, with a restricted vocabulary, we tend to stop talking and listening to each other. Christians only talk to Christians, Buddhists only talk to Buddhists, New Age people only talk to other New Age people, etc.
This is tribalism, and there’s a reason social media abounds with messages about “finding one’s tribe.” Jargon is then used to exclude those who are not in the know — to signal who is in and who is out. We can hardly create unity by ignoring each other.
Furthermore, we often don’t just ignore each other but actively disregard each other and reject certain vocabulary words with hostility.
God for example carries a lot of baggage for people. For some people, it conveys a judgmental, white-bearded male upon a thrown deciding who is saved and who isn’t, punishing you for your misdeeds. Or it invokes the empty rhetoric of those who have used the word to justify their very human desires for power and control, to subjugate others.
Enter the Universe or Source, which many people now invoke to avoid the baggage of God. It might even sound vaguely scientific. But what does it mean when you say, for example, “The Universe is sending me a sign.” Did Jupiter email you? Did another galaxy send you a message via Insta? No, of course not. You mean to invoke something larger, outside of yourself, beyond your comprehension.
This solution doesn’t work. I’m not saying you have to use the word God instead of the Universe. But eventually some new tradition will come along and reject the Universe as antiquated. Instead of swapping out words we should work through the reasons why they unnerve us.
And, as in this example, it can instill in some people a sense of superiority where they sit from a lofty perch looking down at older terminology. Indeed, if we choose to speak only our tradition’s language, we run the risk of replicating the kind of imperial mindset that, for example, sought to impose English and Spanish over Native American languages, regarding them as somehow lesser vehicles for wisdom and understanding.
These are not pathways to unity and connection. Our inability to converse with each other across spiritual traditions ends up deepening division rather than fostering community or cross-pollination of ideas. We forge spiritual silos, and our jargon becomes the mortar that builds walls between us.
That disunity only exacerbates our differences, ignores our commonalities, and sets us up for an old trap: believing we have the one single truth. Instead of spreading a message of unity, oneness, or shared humanity, we start to see ourselves as those with the secret truth, whereas everyone else is deluding themselves.
Our Common Ground Is Greater Than Our Differences
My journey has been one of spiritual exploration.
As a child, I was immersed in Catholicism, going to catechism and praying to Jesus.
After years of rejecting organized religion in favor of atheism, I found myself turning to yoga and Zen Buddhism, listening to dharma talks and sitting zazen.
I soon found myself in the company of Indian gurus and Divine Mother avatars, learning Sanskrit mantras and the names of Hindu deities.
Then, I started meeting energy healers, psychics, and writers who spoke of vibrational frequency, Light, and spirit guides.
I later experienced a kundalini awakening, and began to channel (you can read more about that here).
I then explored shamanism, discovered power animals and soul retrieval, and went on a trip to Peru to experience ayahuasca.
Because of this journey, I believe that most spiritual traditions have more in common than many people assume based on their jargon. They also have their differences. But having a meaningful conversation about those differences requires you to understand another tradition’s vocabulary rather than dismiss it as nonsense.
For example, when I listen to Buddhists speak the language of awareness, karma, and emptiness, I know that there is a conversation to be had with them about frequency, the pain-body, and the now.
When New Age people talk of ascension, multidimensionality, and limiting beliefs, I know there’s a conversation to be had with them about samskaras, reincarnation, and enlightenment.
When I listen to Christians speak of Jesus, God, angels, and prayer, I know that there is a conversation to be had with them about the Light, Christ consciousness, ascended masters, and spirit guides.
When shamanic practitioners speak of power animals, soul retrieval, and purging with plant medicine, I know there’s a conversation to be had about devas, past lives, and chakras.
Most spiritual traditions look at the limited self, and then theorize about a part of ourselves that we know is larger than our conventional understanding of the mind or body, connected to something more powerful, beyond our full comprehension. They talk about letting go of our pain and our past and becoming connected to this aspect of ourselves. They talk about reaching a place of love, peace, and wholeness.
They talk about the different ways to get there, whether through prayer, affirmations, mantra, meditation, energy healing, psychedelics, plant medicine, journaling, therapy, intuitive readings, chakra cleansing, crystals, yoga, being in nature, grounding, communing with power animals, connecting with spirit guides, confession, forgiveness, koans, poetry, selfless service, soul retrieval or spiritual study.
What I experience when I look at the array of spiritual traditions and techniques is not competition or confusion, but diversity.
We Should Embrace Our Diversity of Spiritual Language
Let us treat our diversity of language and vocabulary around spirituality as a symbol of our human diversity. Rather than treating these different traditions as competitors for the one “Great Truth,” we might embrace the role of linguistic ambassador, learning to talk in different registers or dialects across spiritual traditions.
We might begin by recognizing that all traditions have words for
- our teachers, gurus, guides, mentors, priests or rabbis;
- our minds, egos, personalities, habitual patterns, collective consciousness or psyches;
- our past, our subconscious, our trauma, our Akashic records, our past lives;
- our souls, our Buddhanature, our spirits, our anima, or our authentic selves;
- a higher power, God, Spirit, Source, Divine Mother, the Infinite, the Universe, Buddha, Allah, or Krishna;
- our material world, Earth, Mother Gaia, or Mother Nature;
- connection, community, church, tradition, lineage, tribe, or sangha; and
- spiritual teachings, dharma, divine wisdom, or sacred writing.
We deepen our shared connection — our oneness, our common humanity, our Buddhanature, our unity in consciousness, our diversity, and our equality — when we learn to speak to each other without recoiling from the word choices we make.
We can embrace the diversity of our vocabulary without requiring that we adopt an “official” spiritual language or seeing one as superior to others.
We can speak in the language of another spiritual tradition without betraying our own or treating the other as cultural appropriation. In other words, we can soften around our need to define ourselves with our jargon.
The more you practice speaking in another tradition’s vocabulary, the more connections you will see across and between traditions. The more we learn to talk to each other across traditions, the greater our unity as spiritual beings who still respect our diversity of language, viewpoint, and practices.
That unity does not imply that we will land on a single vision of what it means to be human or the meaning of life, or settle on a unified theory for the nature of reality and consciousness. We will still debate and disagree. But perhaps we can learn to engage each other with greater respect and a willingness to listen.
Like learning a foreign language, there is joy to be found in hearing all of these different ways of communicating the same ineffable message.
And like any foreign language, you may struggle with some more than others. Perhaps you have a background in psychology, and find Buddhism an easier language to speak in. Maybe you have a background in agriculture or animal husbandry and can connect more easily with the shamanic traditions. Maybe you have an appreciation for science, so frequency and multidimensionality speak to you. Or maybe you have a deep reverence for a particular religious tradition, and words like God or the Divine resonate most with you.
But the places of resistance, disconnection, or confusion — those are pathways for exploration. You don’t have to believe another tradition’s ideas, but the exploration of those concepts once you move beyond your resistance to the vocabulary can be a fruitful and illuminating practice. That practice can help you to loosen your grip on your attachment to particular words, and not feel the need to use jargon to divide yourself from others.
As an exercise, go through the following set of questions and notice what comes up for you as you read those words. Do you resonate with some and bristle at others? Are there words missing for you, and if so, what emotions does that incite in you?
- What words do you use to describe that which is beyond you and your comprehension? God, Life, the Universe, Source, Spirit, the Divine, the Light, the Divine Mother, or Mother Nature?
- What words do you use to describe what makes you alive? Prana, chi, life energy, or source energy?
- What words do you use to describe your mind? Ego, mind, psyche, subconscious, mass consciousness, social construction, or collective consciousness?
- What words do you use that part of you beyond the mind and body? Soul, spirit, authentic self, true you, core self, awareness, Buddhanature, or the witnessing mind?
- What words do you use to describe people who wish to help others? Bodhisattvas, lightworkers, healers, good samaritans, social justice warriors, or sacred activists?
In the spirit of inclusion, I close by declaring that I am a bodhisattva, a mystic, a channel, a lightworker, and a sacred activist.
My heart is full of love, metta, and light.
Prana, chi, and source energy flow through my body, my chakras, and my meridians.
I continue to explore my childhood trauma, my limiting beliefs, my inherited patterns, my generational trauma, my past lives, my Akashic records, and my karma to release the past.
My mind, my ego, my mass consciousness are letting go, surrendering, aligning with and attuning to my soul, my authentic self, my creator self, and my Buddhanature so that I may ascend to 5D, attain moksha or become self-realized.
When I do, I will be fully awakened, transcend, achieve enlightenment, reach heaven, embody the Christ consciousness, and become a source of unconditional love.
Or, more simply, I am a human being, with emotional triggers and a mind full of ideas about life, who longs to fulfill his purpose for being here, and live in harmony with all other beings.
Which version of me would you be willing to listen to? Which version of me would you like to ignore?