Saturday, February 27, 2010

A look at spirituality...

For some, the quest for spirituality can be a confusing one. Often mistaken for religion, spirituality in itself is a completely different subject. Indeed the two can exist in harmony, but can also exist separate from one another in certain contexts. Spirituality has certain components that leverage belief systems, as well as navigate us toward what we search for.

As religion in itself is a collection of belief systems, a way to profess and practice one’s faith to that which they believe; spirituality can be a preceding step to religious practices. As religious practice focuses on connection to, and worship of, a chosen inspirational deity and observation of certain traditions, spirituality starts by the development of a “connection” in and of itself.

A main goal of spirituality is an awareness of how ego can infiltrate and interrupt an individual’s connection and presence. Ego strongly tries to concern us with issues of self, narrowing of our focus, and often accumulation of material things for personal identity. It is steeped in the core belief that we are what we have, what we do, and what others think of us. Spirituality on the other hand focuses on a connection beyond us exclusively, and attempts to dispel the ego’s core beliefs.

We find in spiritual practice and principle, that a connection beyond ourselves is paramount to personal harmony. We begin an attempt to connect to our true self. Not the self that has the things, that has the titles, and the achievements, but the self that is deep within us, who is the purer form of who we are. The being we would be if the material things, opinions, and worries of tomorrow were not in the picture.

We also begin to connect to others. With that comes a development of respect for others, and their right to be individuals with individual beliefs that work for them. Coupled with respect comes a compassion towards others and the desire to allow them to be as they are, but also to extend a hand and heart to those who need it regardless of background or beliefs. Through thought, prayer, and deed we can be in constant compassionate assistance to others, and in turn make our own world a much better place to live. This is not exclusive to humans, but also all living beings including the planet on which we live.

Finally and most importantly is a search for a connection to a divine place that gives us peace and guidance. Not only acting as a beacon in a storm, but the desire to see the intelligence behind the design, a promise for something beyond us, and that there is a Divine concern for all of us as part of a greater whole. It is this quest that often places a religious practice before us to further strengthen our spiritual connections and maps out a path for us to travel. Spirituality can lead us to our religious path; our religion supports our spirituality, and healthy cycles can develop.

It sometimes can be difficult for people to jump into a religious belief initially. It can be intimidating as it may encounter people’s issues within themselves they have yet to confront, and to compare themselves to a set of values and practices comfortably can take time. However, by starting with progressive awareness of connecting to one’s self, others, and then to a divine being may be an easier transition.

By connecting to ourselves, we can start to figure out what we feel we lack, and what we seek. By connecting to others, we can see we are not alone, others have wisdom that will assist us, and there is indeed strength in numbers. In seeking a connection to a Creator, Source, or Divine being, we extend our quest to yet another realm, place our faith into more capable hands, and find solace in ways to make sense of the senseless. Compassion towards others venturing down this very personal path is essential to making the journey an attractive one. Even though many may arrive at the same place; depending on where one starts will determine the lanes and detours they must take to eventually arrive alongside you.

Also found on Artisan of the Human Spirit by Tony Anders

(You can take a personal spirituality quiz here)

Here's a post for Feb while it's still Feb...

War Veteran

The old monk said he’d been at war
for centuries…

had not yet won, which is why he
continues returning

life after life… and then
as if to show me

a medallion, he said, “One day
I may tire of the fight,

make peace with every country
on the continents

of my body.”
and walked away… without another word.