The Spiritual Life
The French philosopher, Teilhard DeChardin, once wrote: "We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience. Rather we are spiritual beings having a physical experience." If you define "spirituality" as any experience that is not available to our five senses, then the majority of our life experiences are spiritual. Concepts like peace, joy, love, truth, beauty, connection, surrender, bliss and fulfilment are all spiritual in nature. Indeed, life itself is a spiritual experience.
Spirituality may have nothing to do with "religion" or "religiosity." It is not the same as "morality" or the "right way" to live. It rarely has anything to do with "doctrines" or "ethics."
Spirituality can be described, however. Some aspects of spirituality may include: an expanded self-awareness, particularly of your true nature; the experience of joy, inner peace and love; and the realisation of your essential unity with all of the universe/creation.
The evolutionary growth of your spirit follows some known principles. It usually begins with an "awakening" to the awareness that there is more to being alive than we can ever know. This awakening can be sudden or gradual. It can be a sudden flash of insight ("a light bulb moment") or a slow "dawning" of what being alive really means.
This awakening of consciousness leads to an intense desire to know more. This desire is often referred to as "spiritual hunger." We long for more. More experiences. More awareness. More knowledge. More of spiritual unity.
Then we usually let go of all previously held ideas, habits and behaviours. We lose our old "self." We let go of Mind and Ego. This loss evolves into a sense of emptiness and is often called "the dark night of the soul." From that darkness emerges a new awareness, a new identity, a new sense of self that feels more "real" than the one we lost. People often refer to this as a spiritual "rebirth."
Following the experience of being reborn, we then integrate our new self into a new lifestyle or "new way of being in the world." We reach "spiritual maturity" when the search for knowledge is replaced with living from the centre of our being; when we no longer seek the truth, rather we live in it; when we always love rather than fear; when we realise our essential unity with the Universe, or Universal Intelligence, or Life Force, or God (whatever you prefer).
You can identify spiritually mature persons by some of the following qualities. They function on the principles of love, rather than the habits of fearful defence. They respond from within themselves, rather than react to the people and events that are outside their skin. They live as they consciously choose, usually very simply. They are graceful in their responses to others. They experience "bliss" on a regular basis, not just when meditating or praying. They maintain internal equanimity and calm. They are often delightfully humorous. They are non-hostile. They relate to others in healthy and beneficial ways. They reflect their true nature in all they do. They are insightful, quick to learn, open to new experiences and eager to make themselves, others and the world more loving and peaceful.
The benefits of developing your spiritual life can include: getting long with others much better; contributing positively to all your relationships; bringing your healthiest and best to your service; acknowledging the true nature of others as the same as yours; experiencing more belonging, vitality, joy, inner peace, and love within your experience of being alive. Are not such benefits worth the risk of growing spiritually? Perhaps your own spiritual growth is the primary purpose for your being alive in the first place.
Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D. has 30+ years experience as a Life Coach and Licensed Psychologist. He is available for coaching in any area presented in "Practical Psychology." As your Coach, his only agenda is to assist you in creating the lifestyle you genuinely desire. The initial coaching session is free. Contact him: DrLloyd@CreatingLeaders.com If you found the above column useful, feel free to share it with friends.