Some Christian churches have a practice, that when the pastor touches you, you are supposed to fall over, apparently “slain by the holy ghost”. Friends have told me that if you don’t fall, some pastors push you or even trip you up.

Disregarding the obvious – the pastor does not want the perception that he lacks the ability to channel God – it also presumes there is one model for the spiritual journey: to receive the holy ghost it has to be in one big rush. That some may experience spirituality as a gentle, building-over-time, seems to be ignored in the Pastor’s and sometimes the participants, need for instant results (and instant ‘power’).

But there is also another sense in which the pastor wants you to fall. He wants to destroy you as a person.

They say that to make the soldier you have to break the man. It seems that to make the Christian you also have to break the individual.

Is this the reason why some pastors focus so much on negative language?  It becomes all about the miserable sinner and the worthless person, often attached to a legalistic list of ‘thou shalt nots’. And  at the end of this tirade we hear the P.S. – Jesus is love, that we are told is really the focal point of the Word! The pastor is trying to break you down, sometimes quite brutally, in order to make you into a Christian.

But there is some truth in this. In order to find spirituality you have to deal with the ego. You do have to ‘kill yourself’ in order to be ‘born again’ (the Buddhist notion of reincarnation).

It’s just that Buddhism seems to be a little kinder as it proceeds at the pace the individual wishes to go, compared with the attempt at instant annihilation from some pastors! Perhaps it’s the emphasis on salvation and judgement that creates the impatience?  Confronting the ego is also one of the explicit aims of Buddhism along with an understanding of the emotional difficulties the individual is going to face as they see the layers of their ‘self’ falling like petals to the ground. Perhaps Christianity’s lack of tenderness when dealing with the ego is the reason why many do not take this final step?

Ultimately, we have to decide for ourselves the pace of our spiritual awakening and speed of our journey. Anyone that wants to push us too fast down one road or appears not to understand the consequences of our journey does not deserve to be our guide.

So next time a pastor wants to push you. Ask him what the rush is!