ASK ABDI: HOW MUCH IS PSYCHOLOGICAL AND HOW MUCH SPIRITUAL?

QUESTION: It has been a strange and interesting path, and I would love some insight and help. I don’t know how to proceed in life. Often people say, "Well, what do you want? Write down what you want…" What do I want? Is there an "I" to want? There is no "I". So how do I live? Yes, there are remains of desires, some come up strongly from time to time, but not enough to motivate so much. Although, there is a strong desire to live fully and freely and to move through the tangle of emotions. I am hoping to gain insight into this place I am in, and to take a next step in evolution.

I am in Italy; I just arrived a few days ago from Sweden. I am on my own. It seems that Italy would be so lovely. Yet, I am here, lonely a bit. Tired. Seems that I am poised on a precipice, somehow. Not knowing the way forward (not something new, mind you). Maybe it is not about forward, but within (not a new idea either)? How much is spiritual and how much is psychological? I could really use some help with navigating.

ANSWER: You say there is no “I” and then your “I” manages to write a full page of questions. Do not confuse philosophy with your reality. As true as it might be on one level, that there is no “I”, do not go beyond where you are. You are experiencing an “I” and that “I” has to be experienced, related to, and lived, before even an attempt can be made to go beyond it.

As you can relate from your own experience, changing the outside scenery without tending to the inner is akin to moving furniture on the Titanic: pretty much useless in the grand scheme of things. The gift of travel is that it can help us break through cultural hypnosis. But one has to be present to the differing surroundings to experience it. As to your question of how much is psychological and how much spiritual, these two areas certainly bleed into each other, but they are also distinctly different. Start by quieting your mind and sitting with yourself every day. Allow some calmness to enter your inner landscape, so you can see more clearly what the next step is. Sitting with questions many times is much more fruitful than force finding an answer.