“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.” – Buddha
We have to remember who we really are…
Last week I mentioned that we would continue the conversation on spirituality and delve a little deeper into why spiritual practice is so important and what it looks like in our daily lives. Though spirituality and discussing spiritual truth is a passion of mine I am finding it somewhat challenging to put into words what needs to be said without sounding preachy or self-righteous. I mean I can be highly opinionated and a bit judgmental at times which is not very spiritual of me but that’s the point I’m making here. Many of us could be a bit more (or a lot more) spiritual in our daily lives but have forgotten the truth of who we are and why we’re here.
The truth is as I believe it is that we are spiritual beings on a journey as human beings to remember who we are which is done through daily spiritual practice or what Ilchi Lee in The Call of Sedona says is “Awakened Living”, which I will come back to and explain in a moment. For now let’s focus on why we need a spiritual life. Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love (a must read) says that “the goal of spiritual practice is full recovery, and the only thing you need to recover from is a fractured sense of self.” This resonates with me because it is quite clear to me that as a collective species and as individuals we are deeply wounded and if we ever want to truly heal, we must take our spiritual practice more seriously and really get to work on ourselves. The reason that it is so important that we heal our wounds is because we are caught in a vicious cycle in which wounded or hurt people most often wound and hurt (other) people. But if we’re healed and whole we will show up in the world as healed and whole people. Again, the kind of emotional healing we need to do as humans is done through spiritual practice.
Spirituality is an inside job…
Another reason we are often drawn to spirituality is because we are hungry for more, for something deeper and more meaningful than the rat race of a life we seem caught up in. Spiritual practice is what feeds that hunger and longing for a deeper connection to something bigger than ourselves. It puts us in touch with our divine nature, our higher selves and the God within. Spirituality is being in alignment with the Universe, with Source, with your soul or higher self. It’s being aware of your connection to God, to nature, to each other and to all there is. We have glimpses of our divine nature but maintaining a high level of consciousness and this awareness of our oneness with God and each other is our highest calling and is the essence of our real work on Earth. Our job is to awaken to who we are and then to live in this awakened state in our daily lives, which brings us back to what Ilchi Lee says is Awakened Living.
In The Call of Sedona, Lee states that, “the essence of Awakened Living is that it doesn’t separate the spiritual from daily life. The age in which we look for spirituality deep in a mountain or in mystical doctrines is over. In the here and now, where our work, people, and passion are tied closely together – I believe that’s the true spiritual lifestyle. For Awakened Living, you need wisdom that doesn’t necessarily coincide with a religion or value system that systematizes spirituality. The most important questions in life are not answered by experts or by systems. They can help us on our journey to ask those questions but finding the answers is always our own to do. We are the one and only experts, writers, and authorities of our own lives.”
I really can’t provide any answers here to your deepest spiritual questions and I’m not even suggesting that I am some expert on God or spirituality. All I’m attempting to do is to say that deep down at our core we all know our truth and ultimately it is up to each of us to seek our own answers to who we are and why we are here from within; and to offer some suggestions as to how to go about doing that.
Feed your soul
First and foremost, I say feed your soul with spiritual food. All the big religions have their spiritual texts. Christians have the Bible, Jewish people have the Torah, Muslims have the Koran, Hindus have the Bhagavad Gita and so on. These texts should be used to guide our lives not dictate them. I shy away from saying that anything should be absolute law in our lives because there should be room for interpretation and for only adopting that which resonates with you deep within. Remember you alone are the expert on your life and God gave us free will to choose how we live our lives. With that said most major religions believe in the one Higher Power which I call God (yet is known by many names) but everyone is disagreeing on how we live God’s Law. However, we don’t have to agree on how we acknowledge God we just have to acknowledge Him and respect everyone else’s way of doing so. I believe that to follow God we must know God which starts by studying and interpreting the spiritual truths and principles outlined in the divinely inspired texts handed down to us through the ages. No matter what your religious affiliation is the Book you go to for spiritual wisdom should feed your soul and resonate with your inner knowingness.
There are also countless books written on spirituality by many wonderful and inspiring spiritual teachers who are called to help guide humanity back to living awakened lives. I have read many books that speak to the spiritual journey we are on and offer guidance as we strive to live more enlightened lives. I have found such books as The Power of Now and A New Earth both by Eckhart Tolle, A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson, The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra to be just a few of the spiritual books that can feed one’s soul with the spiritual nourishment we all need. There are countless classes, workshops, seminars, retreats and sermons lead and taught by spiritual leaders of our time with the purpose to deliver the messages that will help awaken our consciousness. There is even a whole movement of “change your life” TV programming that is emerging. We can incorporate all of these things into our lives to feed our hunger for the wisdom and direction we are searching for that will ultimately lead us back to Source or whatever you choose to call God. Let the spiritual teachings (wherever you find them) of past and present nourish you and give you the fuel and sustenance you need to lead a more spiritually guided life.
Affirm Your Oneness with God
As I have mentioned we have forgotten who we are and that God created us in His image meaning we are one with God. God is in each and every one of us and we need to stand in that power and know that we are one with God always and in all ways. There is nothing we can’t do as long as it serves our highest purpose because we are backed by the power of God which is within.
This also means that if we are all one with God then none of us are separate. Unfortunately our connectedness is another spiritual truth we have forgotten. In the mist of conflict we forget that what we do to others we are also doing to ourselves because none of us are separate. We are all connected and when we cause or experience individual pain we are causing or experiencing collective pain. If we can become consciously aware moment to moment of our collective connectedness to God and one another we will find peace on Earth which is God’s wish for His children. Fulfilling this wish starts with loving one another unconditionally including ourselves.
It’s unfortunate but most of us love conditionally. We place conditions on others based on who we think they should be and how we think they should act. We have forgotten that we are here to love one another as we love ourselves but that’s just it, we withhold our love from anyone we deem unworthy including ourselves. We have forgotten that we are all worthy because we have forgotten that we are all one with God.
We see it play out every day on TV as people spew hate and show disgust for anyone they disagree with. We see people distrust anyone who doesn’t look or sound like them, and we see wars and battles forged between those of different religions, cultures, and backgrounds and often in the name of God. In many cases it seems like we have lost our way and if we are ever going to collectively find our way back we will need to open our hearts to one another and embrace the divinity we all possess whether we can outwardly see it or not…simply meaning we must love unconditionally no matter what our differences appear to be.
Let it go and let God
It does not serve you to hold on to the past or to anything that has caused you pain, which is where forgiveness comes in and it doesn’t serve you to dwell on or agonized over what you can’t change or control which is where surrender comes in.
I’ve heard it said that “forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past could have been any different” and I agree totally. Look, the past is the past and there is nothing we can do to undo or change it. Whatever happened, happened to teach us something and to help us grow and evolve into our higher selves. That’s it. So let go of the negative emotions and bad memories, take the lesson and move on….to living in the present moment which will call on you to continue to surrender to what is (no matter how painful) and to own the fullness of who you are by trusting in the power of God to handle your life and give you all the help and resources you need to fulfill your purpose and lead a remarkable life.
Live Your Purpose
We are all here to serve in our own unique way which can be called our divine purpose. Living your purpose is absolutely one of the best ways to live “in spirit” or as we’ve been discussing to practice your spirituality. In other words, living your purpose is a spiritual practice that we can fulfill in our daily lives. It’s up to each of us to figure out what that purpose is and then to show up to fulfill it using our special gifts and talents.
Pray and Meditate
Prayer is when we talk to God and meditation is when we listen to God. What better way to be led in our daily lives than to be in constant communication with God which is simply done by asking God for guidance and then being still enough to hear the answer. We often skip the meditation part of communicating with God because we find it too difficult to quiet all the noise in our heads but all you really have to do is be still and follow your breath. When your mind drifts simply come back to the breath. The Bible says, “be still and know that I am God.” The path to God is incredibly short because it is as close as your breath. How empowering this is, yet again our challenge is remembering to let this inner power guide our lives. If you are looking for a powerful way to train your mind and body to be still so that you can hear the voice of God I would suggest you start practicing yoga. The Sanskrit meaning of yoga means “to join”, “to unite”, “to be connected with”, which is exactly the goal of any spiritual practice, to connect and stay connected to our Source, to God within.
Last but not least, gratitude is another piece of the puzzle to living a spiritual life. We must be grateful for all there is and all that has been given to us. Saying thank you is a beautiful prayer in itself but it is not enough, for the Bible teaches that “to whom much is given much is expected” (Luke 12:48). If you have been blessed with abundance it is in your power and duty to share your abundance and gifts with others less fortunate. This is the ultimate in spiritual practice, being in service as an appreciation for all that we have been blessed with and expecting nothing in return.
Most likely you are quite aware of these spiritual truths and practices I have shared. My intention wasn’t to share anything new or to claim any enlightenment on my part but simply to remind everyone reading this including myself of how we can more spiritually live our daily lives and stay the course of our spiritual journey towards the enlightenment we all seek. It ain’t easy but we’re all in this together taking one inspired step at a time toward the awakened lives we are met to live in the here and now.