The spirituality that flows from our actions is not fleeting, transient, or solitary in a silent cosmos. The music of refined actions, the melody of a noble soul, is woven into the tapestry of eternal music which God Himself composed.
The core paradox that underlies spirituality is the haunting sense of incompleteness, of being somehow unfinished, that comes from the reality of living on this earth as part and yet also not-part of it. For to be human is to be incomplete, yet year for completion; it is to be uncertain, yet long for certainty; to be imperfect, yet long for perfection; to be broken, yet crave wholeness. All these yearnings remain necessarily unsatisfied, for perfection, completion, certainty, and wholeness are impossible precisely because we are imperfectly human – or better, because we are perfectly human, which is to say humanly imperfect.
If there is a time of judgment, instead of theological or institutional litmus tests, the only question asked about our life and spirituality will be "Did you love with abandonment?"
True spirituality is not a removal or escape from life. It is an opening, a seeing of the world with a deeper vision that is less self-centered, a vision that sees through dualistic views to the underlying interconnectedness of all life. Liberation is the discovery of freedom in the very midst of our bodies and minds.
Mature spirituality has little to do with altered states of consciousness. Powerful meditation and visionary experiences often initiate people into spiritual life, waking them up to untapped potentials. But mental disciplines, such as meditation cannot single-handedly sustain us on our journeys. We also need to open our hearts, then embody our love in everyday acts of attentive living. This integration of wisdom, love, and embodied action, which requires years of inner and outer work, constitutes our spiritual curriculum in today's modern world.
Spirituality is best manifested on the ground, not in the air. Rapturous day-dreams, flights of heavenly fancy, longings to see the Invisible, are less expensive and less expressive than the plain doing of duty... Spirituality is seeing God in common things, and showing God in common tasks.
Addictive spirituality creates dependence in the practitioner (frequently to authoritarian leaders and their communities), an avoidance of personal responsibility, and loss of individuality through social controls, such as fear, guilt, or greed for power or bliss. It also tends to suppress rational inquiry into the teachings. Healthy spirituality, on the other hand, supports the practitioner's freedom, autonomy, self-esteem, and social responsibility. It is based on experience, rather than belief or dogma; it does not create idols out of spiritual teachers; and it empowers students by emphasizing democratic forms of learning and teaching, rather than the authoritarian model that has dominated spiritual life for millennia.
Belief | Dependence | Dogma | Esteem | Experience | Fear | Freedom | Greed | Guilt | Individuality | Inquiry | Learning | Life | Life | Model | Power | Responsibility | Self | Self-esteem | Spirituality | Loss |
No matter how idealistic our hopes... we eventually learn that spirituality is not about leaving life's problems behind, but about continually confronting them with honesty and courage. It is about ending our feeling of separation from others by healing our relationships with parents, co-workers, and friends. it is about bringing heightened awareness and compassion to our family life, careers, and community service.
To find the extraordinary in the ordinary, the sacred in the profane, sounds appealing in theory... Everyday spirituality requires mindfulness, an alert quality of mind that nonjudgmentally observes what happens in each moment. When mindfulness is present, a deep, penetrating awareness develops that gives insight into the world and ourselves. This penetrating quality of mind enables us to respond to the present with greater spontaneity and freedom.