You are the Authority

When I was studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2006, they had a sort of mantra which was “One person’s food is another person’s poison”. What that mantra pointed to is an often overlooked truth that where food is concerned, there is no one right way that works universally for all. There isn’t even one right way for a single individual over the course of their life. What a person needs when they’re 20 isn’t what they need when they’re 45 or 65. What they need in the summer isn’t what they need in the winter. Etc...

Similarly, in the process of getting sober and navigating the dogmatic world of recovery, I had a similar revelation. 12 steps work for some people. Therapy works for others. For me, 12 step was a totally unintelligible system but a combination of practical dharma and trauma work has kept me sober for many years. There is no one right way to get sober.

It’s taken me much longer to realize that the same is true for spirituality and religion. There is no one system that works for everyone. Not Buddhism, not theism, not yoga, not atheism. 

There is no one right way!

These days, I keep some distance from those who think their teachings are “perfect” and above honest critical analysis. I stay away from those who think their path is the “right” one for everyone.

While engagement with wisdom holders is a necessary part of the process of spiritual growth and healing, be careful not to put them on a pedestal. I know many of them. Trust me, they’re just humans a little further along (sometimes) than you are. Don’t live in deference to your religion, your particular tradition or your teachers. Ultimately, you have to arrive at an understanding that YOU are the only authority for what supports your own deepest wellbeing! That authority is established by paying attention to the results of your engagement with your practices in the laboratory of your own body, heart and mind. Claim your authority! Take what works and let go of the rest. Make your path fully yours. Make yourself “independent of others” in your dharma!

One person’s food is another person’s poison.
One person’s recovery is another person’s dogma.
One person’s dharma is another person’s prison.

Thanks for listening.

Pablo Das