Spiritual Practice And The Helplessness Of Being Human

A meditators’ reflection on guidance, decision-making, gurus and utterly human experiences

Elisabeth Carlucci
5 min readDec 13, 2019
Photo by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash

When it comes to making choices in a moment where I feel less connected to the whole, I oftentimes experience painful helplessness and an inner urge for guidance.

Maybe that is how religions came forth. Deep down we humans are looking for papa, mama or god- someone who takes care of us, who tells us what to do. If we are honest with ourselves and dare to look deep enough, we find out that we are lost and that we all long for one thing: guidance.

Even if I meditate for several hours per day (or however my spiritual practice may look like)- I still have to take responsibility for my life and for what happens outside of the sitting. I have to create a life. I have to somehow participate.

Deep down in myself, there is faith. I know that if I delete all my samskaras (mental imprints stored in the unconscious mind) through meditation (as taught by the sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras), the separate “I” will disappear. When the “I” disappears, life will still work its way just as life always does, but I will truly understand that I am simply a wave in the ocean. That the separate I-dentity that I have created with the support of my surroundings, was an illusion all the way. That things are happening as a whole, and that I have the opportunity to experience and witness this marvelous, unique and ever-changing stream of life.

Until this becomes my “reality” 24/7, I live in what Indian philosophy calls maya, the illusion of the separate self, created by the mind. This is what western society calls “normal” perception: Me, the unique personality that struggles for survival in a world that is not necessarily in my favor. It is me against the world. The others and me. This unnatural separation is what hurts so badly in the hearts of all of us.

You are not the doer. That’s what the scripts say.

Yes, I believe it is true. Yet for the individual, it isn’t true until it is. I do have to get up, make a decision, take action. Make use of my time. Go and get. This topic of doership, non-doership and how to make decisions properly, has been quite significant for me in my spiritual journey. I have come across great teachers, and with many, I discussed this topic. Answers were given, yet when life hits in, there is nothing left but my personal experience and my limited ways to cope with it at that very moment.

At times I am in the flow. Non-doership is being experienced. But then something happens. An emotional breakdown, confusion, a bump on the road… and I am lost. Suddenly there it is again… The “I”, the Ego, the separate entity that is helpless, vulnerable and lonely. That has no clue what she is doing or supposed to do. That gets it all wrong. In those moments the teachings and all my wisdom seem not to work. It is simply, utterly painful.

We have little information about what happens when we are transiting from identification to non-identification. The time in between. When we already know that this life is a dream, but we have not yet reached the goal, let’s call it enlightenment.

We do know a lot about truth. About what we really are, our true nature. We know a lot about how to improve our lives and character, we have easy access to techniques like coaching, mindfulness, psychology and so on. But for a serious meditator, who is actually and literally on the way of losing herself, there is little guidance or information available.

Because if I already know that I am a limited human being, and I know that my thoughts are the results of my conditionings, how am I ever going to make the right decision? The one that is in tune with the whole?

I guess in India that is where the guru plays an important role. The guru is the light in the darkness of maya or, as Buddhists would call it, samsara. He will tell you what to do and when, because he can see your soul and your path clearly, he knows what is best for you beyond your conditioned mind.

I am a serious practitioner without a guru.

At times it is hard.

The other day in a cafe I was talking to another practitioner, and he said that the spiritual path alone was tough enough, he could not imagine walking this path without a guru.

But what if you don’t find the One? What if life didn’t bring you the one who you knew you could surrender your life to? A guru is not just someone you seek and pick. He is the most significant human in your life. The Guru is the one you consciously surrender your life to, and therefore your destiny.

Being a seeker and traveling to India since I was a girl, I have seen many gurus… and I never met the One. Believe me, I had my eyes open. Yet I never wanted to fall blindly for anyone simply because he crossed my way and presented himself as a possible guru.

In India, they call the times we are living in Kali Yuga, the dark age. Maybe the way my spiritual path unfolds is quite typical for Kali Yuga. In times where materialism, superficiality, fear, and power-struggles are dominating human consciousness, it is hard to find a trustworthy guru. And if you are lucky enough to meet an evolved soul in person, he or she might not want to take on the responsibility of being a guru.

So I will continue to be my light in the darkness of samsara. I will do my best and keep on learning by constantly failing. I will be still and listen- finding the light inside of my heart, where we are connected to all the gurus of all the times.

After all, it seems like I am having a truly human experience. And in times of confusion, I always remember that a wise man once told me that “this life is a choice-less life.”



Elisabeth Carlucci

“Life is about experiencing the silent joy of being moment by moment with what is.” www.elisabethcarlucci.com - Spirituality, Psychology, Philosophy