When I met X in the spring of 2003, and allowed the psychic and emotional response I had to that meeting to challenge my identification with certain structural aspects of my life (work, relationship, spiritual practice), it was because I sensed a valuable opportunity for growth, and I was probably correct in that. Ultimately, however, given his personal characteristics and the role that he eventually came to play in my life, it turns out that that opportunity may have set me back at least as much as it provided opportunities for growth.
On the one hand, it allowed me to have a rich, deep, and very personal experience of the guru-shakti "scene," about which I had been curious, but which I hadn't experienced directly. On the other hand, as I compare my experiences with those reported by disaffected ex-devotees on the ex-Amma list, I see that a number of these people have also struggled to accept their evaluation that the experience was something different from what it initially seemed to be. Either it was something less in terms of the development of spiritual experience and understanding, or something more destructive than they had imagined it could be.
Lately I find myself experiencing a more humble appreciation of aspects of my life that had seemed mainly to be obstacles during the time that I identified more strongly as an Amma devotee. Feeling held back spiritually and socially by relationship, household, work, family, etc., resulted in a lot of internal division. After realizing that something might be wrong with the attitude of "spiritual arrogance" that I had begun to develop, I tried to regain an appreciation for the ordinary and the everyday--for the things that actually do function reasonably well in my life--but it often felt like defeat or like a kind of moralistic counter-brainwashing to get myself to do that.
The difference that I am sensing since I returned to my Sufi-related practices within the last 6 months is that I'm starting to feel more "solid" and more integral inside, and that I am discovering a spontaneous sense of appreciation for things in my life and in my relationship that had been missing for most of the last 10 years. While I feel that I wasted a lot of time and energy in my 40s, I feel that I have some opportunities to subtly and gently redirect some aspects of my life in my 50s in ways that are beginning to feel like new growth, and not just a reluctant admission of failure and disappointment.