Spirituality in the Redemptive Self
Wisdom is like a rose that is ready to sprout with potential to bring beauty into this world. As one develops throughout the ages he also develops wisdom which finally begins to peak in the later adulthood. This wisdom is not only seen in terms of the knowledge that a person gains throughout his life but in terms of the experience, that one derives from failures and happiness.
Moreover, it is wisdom that leads to the strengthening of spirituality in order to realize the potential of the self and soul. Spirituality is the psychical being that an individual manifests and it is upon its basis that a person realizes the potential of his soul and self. Wisdom and spirituality are the cornerstones towards developing the soul and self. Through wisdom, you get the essential knowledge that is needed for the enlightenment. The enlightenment leads to spiritual realization, which strengthens your self confidence and acceptance. If the highest form of spirituality is achieved then the person may experience nirvana or that particular time in space where mind, body and soul are one.
It has been of considerable scientific speculation to find the origin of the soul in the body. It was Rene Descartes famous hypothesis that the soul rested in the pituitary gland of the brain. But this proved antithetical to the very basis of the meaning of the soul. The soul is immaterial and therefore cannot manifest itself in matter. However, over the ages with the advancement of living the study of the soul has become more of a paranormal aspect than a scientific one?
Psychologically your soul rests within the confines of your mental processes. In fact, it is not a single entity but an aggregate of neural activity in the brain that canalizes all your psychological energy. This psychological energy is seen in terms of you faiths and beliefs. It is not a superstitious entity and the need to realize the true potential that is manifest within you.
Your soul gains expression through what you believe in. In order to express, your beliefs a person starts practicing the interest that he believes in. This might be through joining a club or sect or offering prayers in accordance with the religion that an individual belongs to. By practicing the beliefs that the soul dictates the person canalizes the beliefs into actions. When these actions are produced in reality the self gains a sense of identity as the individual inherits a sense of awareness that whatever he or she is doing is crucial to the identity of the individual.
With this renewed sense of identity by practicing ones beliefs your soul and self blend into the other. This is the criteria of happy living, as happiness can only be realized when mind and body are one. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that health be maintained in order for the body to remain healthy. As for the mind, the faculties of concentration, attention and creativity should be at their top most. With these criteria’s of the mind and body in good shape, the soul and self can be guaranteed a positive development.
You must remember that your soul is the aggregate of all the actions that you do in real life. It is these actions that determine your self concept. In short, it is your Karma that decides that right course of action. Your judgment between good and evil is decided upon how you would want to represent yourself. It is only with heightened spirituality and wisdom that you would do a good deed and maintain a positive self-concept.
Thus, the essence of your self and soul is your spirituality. Spirituality enables you to have faith and maintain beliefs even while facing stressors throughout ones life.
My fiancee’ and I frequent a restaurant in L.A. called Real Food Daily. The concept behind the name is that their food — which is unprocessed, abundantly nutritious, and lovingly prepared — is more authentic, more "real," than most other food. This claim is at once silly and wise. Silly because philosophers have argued about the true nature of "reality" for centuries. Wise because it’s an admissible philosophy that the closer something is to its source, the more "real" it is.
This principle has universal applications. Original paintings are deemed more "real" than prints. Linguistically inventive people are deemed more "real" than those who repeat one-liners from TV. A head of lettuce is more "real" than a hot dog. My interest here is to compare organized spirituality to improvised spirituality. Is either one more real?
Needless to say, comparing these two entities is trickier (and more controversial) than comparing paintings and prints. Every moment of every day, a gentle battle occurs between those that attend religious ceremonies and those that just "believe in something."
How many people do you know that just "believe in something"? I’ve met far too many to keep count (and I myself belong, for the most part, to this group). They’re a raw and ragtag bunch that’s curious enough for exploration but too impatient for formalities. Which begs the question: do formalities enhance "real spirituality" or detract from it?
Let’s cast aside our existential leanings (if any) and assume that there is in fact — for lack of a more evocative term — a spirit world. If this is the case, then all of us are intrinsically connected to it, which means that accessing the spirit world (via prayer, visualization, intuition, etc.) requires no special passkeys. No torahs or rosary beads. No church walls or bemas. By this standard, we can kneel before garden hoses and find God in the pages of a phone directory.
Many of those that just "believe in something" like the sound of this. They tend to scoff in the face of organized religion. For them, all formally religious chants, prayers, rituals, and clothing are empty ornaments standing between the plain flesh of humanity and the sparkling blue rivers of eternity. I steer clear of such thinking.
To my mind, such formalities do not detract from real spirituality. Nor do they enhance it. Whereas the concept behind Real Food Daily is both silly and wise, the concept of Real Spirituality is just plain silly. All spirituality — be it improvised, half-assed, or out of focus — is authentic. Assuming, of course, that there is a spirit world.
Consider the realm of the spirit as a house with many doors. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islamism are widely practiced, so perhaps they enter through the front door. Modes like Scientology and Wicca are less conventional, so perhaps they enter through the side. And as for those of us that just "believe in something," we may lack a formal name, and we may enter through the back, but I’ve no doubt that we reach the same place.
Two Types of Spirituality … Faith and Knowledge
The term "spirituality" is a confusing term. Usually, when one mentions "spirituality", the first thought in many people’s minds is that of "religion". While religion is an aspect of spirituality, spirituality is not an aspect of religion. Spirituality covers other areas of belief as well. Put simply, spirituality is the all-encompassing arena of "belief in something greater." This can be a god, oneself as the greater being, or simply, the life-force or essence that surrounds us all. But, society and religion lead their followers in many different directions replacing the core meanings with moralistic and idealistic terms in hopes of garnering attention by answering those "big questions" pertaining to life, death, the after-life, and a god.
— Faith vs. Knowledge —
While many religious zealots view the idea of knowledge-based spirituality as "agnostic", indeed, it is not. As a matter of fact, even agnosts believe in something, which provides them an alternative stance to organized religion and gods. You have to believe in something to take a stance!
Faith-based spirituality is the belief and trust that things will be as they will be in the future. It is the acceptance of the "great mysteries" of life and death for which religion and society teaches that there are no "definitive answers." Such an approach to spirituality creates a fear-based environment based on gods who are vindictive and uncaring. Believers place their lives into the hands of an unseen being in the hope that all will "work out for the best."
Knowledge-based spirituality is the understanding and kinship of all and the desire to achieve and progress through life toward one’s own Vision and goals. The "great mysteries" become topics of personal research and, with an open mind, answers can be acquired from the environment and the Universe. This type of spirituality invites one to set aside fears and examine the information and entities of the surrounding environment. One has the chance to take life into one’s own hands and guide it along a path to one’s own desires.
— Hatred and Faith —
One of the problems of today is that, in our world, wars, hatred, and bias begin in the moral grounds established by religion and society. Religion creates a solid separation between different factions of humanity. These factions take the core ideals of society and mutate them to suit the needs of their particular beliefs. In the end, when societal boundaries are breached, and control languishes over the ranks, uprisings and bitter conflicts begin to restore order. The stronger of the factions wins and forces their beliefs on the weaker.
In faith-based factions, fear is instilled and faith that a great hereafter exists. People fight to maintain their beliefs because they’ve finally "forced" their conscious minds to accept the unanswered questions based on invisible and unfounded guesses by their "noblemen". The battles are fought to ensure that their foundations and comfort zones are not affected by the infidels of the intruding factions.
However, with knowledge-based factions, fear is minimized and the great hereafter is right here and now and continues on forever. Knowledge provides the mind with a greater degree of processing information arriving at our many senses in many contexts. It allows us to look beyond the basics and outside of the accepted "comfort zones" to comprehend the ideas and ideals of other entities, both physical and spiritual.
— Opening Your Mind —
As part of our being, we all have the need to believe in something greater than ourselves. There is a part of us that "has to belong." Many people fall deeply into organized religion because it provides the camaraderie and a focal point for their community as well as a basis for the moral code of the community. These, in addition to the faith-based answers to the "big questions", provide a comfort zone and a foundation for many. However, by opening one’s mind and examining the many facets behind these "big questions", one can develop and acquire the true answers within one’s own context.
What is the key? Context-free rationalization. Of course, "context-free" is a little strong as we must all have a context, or a point of reference, that we can use to compare information and apply our rules and belief systems. However, open experience and vast knowledge can provide us with multiple contexts that we can use to devise a wider view of a particular piece of information. This wider view is what is called an "open mind". The open mind has no safety zone as it is always risking it’s "comfort zones" in search of new information and new ways of examining situations and other beings.
— What’s next? —
Acquiring this knowledge and ability to move across many contexts is not a simple task as it requires the ability to acquire, accept, and process information outside of our current context. It is a "chicken or the egg" situation; however, it is a decision that we make as humans to initiate such a move.
By opening our minds and perceptions, we allow our conscious minds the ability to communicate more freely with our subconscious minds. In doing so, the vast amounts of information available in the collective unconscious, "The Grid", "The Universal Library" is available to us, simply by "looking." Consider the idea of opening the mind as a primer for what follows once you are able to use your mind to its fullest capabilities and acquire immeasurable knowledge from all entities across the Universe and throughout time.
This is the true meaning of spirituality. The knowledge and desire to exist with and within the Universal essence. To accept and acquire knowledge that is freely available to you through time and space. Finally, the knowledge to use this information in a way that is beneficial to you, as protecting and projecting yourself, you are providing a pathway for others and the betterment of your communities.
Spiritual Growth And Why It Matters
Spiritual growth has always been integral to an individual’s sense of well being, even before mankind has conceptualized the term and digested it in a multitude of ways that it eventually sprung up different methodologies on how one can build upon it. You name it – yoga, karma, or maybe reincarnation. There are so many that they range from the most mystical to the most practical. But whether you are already treading your own "spiritual path", or in deep need of spiritual fulfillment, a deep understanding of what spirituality is can be very helpful in more ways than one.
In order for us to fully comprehend what spirituality means, perhaps it is essential that we discuss the meaning of the root word itself, which is spirit. Spirit is an intangible property, one that alludes to something incorporeal, something mysterious and not bound by the material world. The most hailed scholar and physicist, Albert Einstein, alluded to spirituality through these words: "The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science." This brings us to the two things that he mentioned – art and science. These two indulgences have dominated human’s consciousness in the process of achieving answers to the mysteries that have confounded us about the universe. These two distinct establishments, polar opposites they may be, have paved the way to advancement in the realm of technology and human awareness.
The search for answers is deeply rooted to our innate need to gain knowledge about ourselves, and how we are connected to everything around us. Mundane activities like fixing a car engine or observing an ant farm are unconscious manifestations of that need, and in consequence, related to spirituality. You only have to read Robert M. Pirsig’s magnum opus, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, to understand what I’m talking about. While this contradicts the idea of spirituality as something not bound in the material world, these physical avenues are helpful channels that allow us to achieve that transcendence, and in turn present to us a peek into the mysterious.
Some individuals achieve spiritual sustenance through the means of meditation. Meditation is a process of serious contemplation, or turning inward to reach a profound state of peacefulness, focus and awareness. The practice of meditation has originated from the Eastern cultures, and has been adapted by the West in the form of prayer. Buddhist monks are astute in their belief that meditation is the way to Enlightenment, which explains the sanguine temperament by which they deal with other people.
A common misconception most individuals make is having the notion that spirituality is exclusive to religion. While it’s true that religion has helped a lot of people to lead spiritual lives, it only represents a few facets that constitute the full meaning of spirituality. Spirituality is a confluence, a heightened understanding of what we are and how we are connected to the whole spectrum of existence, and the discernment that every little thing is equally essential and dependent on each other.
Spirituality And Science – Opposites?
Do spirituality and science have to be opposed to each other? Unfortunately, just defining either concept seems almost hopeless at times. On the other hand, describing them is much easier, so let’s start there.
Science isn’t system, but an approach to knowledge, a method. Scientists will argue forever about the definition of science, but still agree it is the most useful or productive method of understanding the world. What are its essential characteristics? They are objective observation, the deriving of principles and "laws", and predictions based on these. (When it produces things, it is also technology.)
Science can be easily differentiated from religion by the fact that all of the knowledge it produces might be proven wrong. Religious "knowledge" is typically sacred, and untouchable, while scientific knowledge is always being overthrown or refined by further application of science. While faith is the cornerstone of religion, evidence is for science.
This explains why "creationist" science is not actually science. A creationist "scientist" will not allow his religiously based beliefs to be challenged by new evidence. He will openly tell you that his "faith" is more important to him than the evidence. He only uses the pretense of science to support his preconceived notions. Many scientists, on the other hand, have overturned even their own theories, because the essence of science is to go where the evidence leads you.
<b>Spirituality And Science Combined</b>
It seems that spirituality and science contradict one another, but this would only be true if all spirituality was based on religious beliefs. Spirituality, though, can be seeking higher levels of experience, asking the deepest questions, and seeking the true "self," which in no way makes it contrary to science. In fact, since science is such a productive method of discovering new truths, it can be used for spiritual exploration and discovery.
I a belief in God contrary to science? Not so long as it is based on experience rather than faith, and it is open to change. Spiritual systems of beliefs can be a convenient way of organizing and using our knowledge and experience, like many other scientific theories or paradigms. To be scientific, though, they must be open to change.
If prayer brings you peace of mind, why not pray? When the evidence shows it to be a phenomenon involving brain chemicals, why not accept that too? It is scientific spirituality, by the way, that has lead to the technology of brain wave entrainment. Now you can buy CDs that give you the same spiritual experiences as religious meditators.
Being spiritual then, can mean forever seeking higher levels of experience, and looking for the answers to the deepest questions. Science help in this quest. Since every answer raises even deeper questions, there is no extinguishment of spirituality by way of science. If spirituality is the quest, then science may be the most effective means of continuing it.
Keenness of the Redemptive Self
Spirituality is the non-material being or phenomenon that manifests itself in terms of your psyche and overall self. It is reflected in your faith and beliefs that seek to answer metaphysical questions that otherwise would seem difficult to resolve. The soul and your self are the realms to this discovery of spirituality within a person as it gives a sense of confidence, self-realization and self acceptance. In the material world, you often come to “dead ends” where you try to find solutions to problems but are unable to get any. This neurotic sense of being naturally diverts your energies for having faith in God, disciplines and any other ideas that enable you a heightened sense of being. With spirituality, your self and soul gain a sense of strength, which rejuvenates your sense of being and proves an important utility to combat against diseases.
When a person gains a sense of spirituality, you may ask. There is no specific age to realizing spirituality in fact at a young age it is reflected in the creativity of a child. A child is high in mental awareness and reflects this through his play activities and with gaining a sense of nurturance and comfort. However, it is in adulthood and older ages that individuals are seen keener to developing a sense of spirituality. This is because at older ages experiencing everyday realities of the life are filled with stress and anxiety. But in childhood the age of innocence surrounds the Childs sense of being and it is to many individuals wish to return back to this age of innocence.
In contrasting the ages, the peak of the soul and self is seen during adulthood. Generally, at this time individuals are strong in their realization of God. This is because they are nearer to death and have seen most of the life past by them and know need added strength to face death. But it would be narrow-minded just say that individuals facing death at an older age need a sense of spirituality. Actually, at an older age the body and mind begin to manifest disproportional relations to each other, which results in significant lag between them. With the depreciation in the body and a sense of increased wisdom in the mind, the individual becomes increasingly prone to anxiety and stress. Further, to counter the threat of disease and illness the person has to utilize the faculties of the mind whereby knowledge only serves to bring a sense of enlightenment. For example, a person suffering from a terminal illness will gain a renewed sense of belief by reading religious texts that would enable him to gain strength in combating the illness.
The self and soul are just but branches spouting out from the main stem of spirituality. If this stem is cut then the energies canalized to the branches will hamper the development of the “tree of life” in general. Spirituality is sixth sense within individuals. By a sixth, sense it does not necessarily mean that it helps in the prediction of the future and deterring the right course of action the one should take. But that sixth sense that enables the bonding between the self and the soul and helps in achieving a sense of nirvana.
Therefore, the self and soul are in a constant state of unity between each other throughout ones age. Spirituality is one basis upon which soul and the self form a basis of relationship in order to gain strength. Moreover, it is through spirituality that one gets a sense of self-realization and self confidence that benefits the individual to gain a sense of nirvana.
New Age Spirituality Beliefs
The New Age Spirituality movement is very unique. There are many things about this type of spirituality that is very different from other spiritual groups. There is no central organization, holy text, creed, dogma, formal clergy or membership roles.
New Age Spirituality is a group of believers who share similar beliefs and they can add these beliefs to any formal religion they are a part of.
Some of the New Age Spirituality beliefs are as follows:
1. Everything that exists comes from a single source of divine energy. This is called Monism.
2. Panthesim is the belief that all that exists is God and God is all that exists. They believe that God is inside us and in the entire universe.
3. Panenthesim believers state that God is all that exists and God is the whole universe and also transcends the universe.
4. Those who believe in Reincarnation believe that they are reborn after death and live as another person. Reincarnation happens many times.
5. Karma is the belief that the good and bad things we do are kept track of and are added and subtracted continually. When a person dies they are punished or rewarded depending on the tally. They are either reincarnated to a good new life or a painful new life.
6. Many people who follow New Age Spirituality believe that everyone has an aura. An aura is an energy field that radiates from the body. Some say they can read people’s auras and determine their state of mind and their physical and spiritual health.
These are some of the New Age Spirituality beliefs. Others can be found in books and magazines that deal with spirituality.
There are also many online sites that have information about spirituality.
Addiction to Spirituality
Lian had been meditating for many years before consulting with me for his depression. He had been part of a spiritual community that encouraged their members to turn to God through prayer and meditation whenever they were feeling any difficult or painful feelings such as anger, hurt, anxiety, or depression. He had been taught that Spirit would transmute his feelings for him and bring him the peace he sought.
Yet Lian was depressed. “I have faithfully practiced what I’ve had been taught, so why am I still depressed? What am I doing wrong?”
Lian was suffering from what is called “spiritual bypass.”
Spiritual bypass occurs when people use their spiritual practice as a way to avoid dealing with and taking responsibility for their feelings. Anything that is used to avoid feeling and taking responsibility for feelings becomes an addiction – whether it is alcohol, drugs, food, TV, work, gambling, spending, shopping, anger, withdrawal…and meditation. If, when a difficult or painful feeling comes up, you immediately go into meditation in the hopes of blissing out and getting rid of the feeling, you may be addicted to spirituality.
It all depends on what your intent is when you are meditating. People can meditate for two totally different reasons: to avoid pain or to learn about love.
If you are meditating to connect with yourself and your spiritual Guidance in order to learn more about loving yourself and others, then meditation is a good way to get out of your head and into your heart. It is a good way to connect with a loving part of yourself so that you can welcome and embrace your painful feelings and learn what you may be doing or thinking that is causing your own pain. When your intent is to be loving to yourself and take responsibility for your own feelings, then meditation can help you become centered and compassionate enough to do an inner exploration with your feeling self.
However, if you are using meditation to bliss out and avoid your pain, you are using your spirituality addictively. You are using your spirituality to bypass learning about and taking responsibility for your feelings.
This is what Lian was doing. Because he was avoiding learning from his feelings, he was continuing to think and behave in ways toward himself and others that caused him to feel depressed. Then, instead of exploring what he was doing that was causing his feeling self, his inner child, to feel depressed, he was meditating to try to get rid of the feelings.
In his work with me, Lian discovered that he was constantly either ignoring his inner child – his feeling self – or he was in self-judgment. The combination of ignoring himself – which he did primarily through meditation – and judging himself resulted in his inner child feeling unloved, unimportant, and unseen. Lian saw that if he treated his actual children in the way he treated himself – ignoring their feelings and constantly judging them – they would also feel badly and maybe depressed. But Lian did attend to his actual children’s feelings and needs. It was his own that he was ignoring and judging.
Lian realized that he was treating himself the way his parents had treated him. He was a much better parent to his children than his parents had been with him, but he was parenting his own inner child in the way he had been parented. He was not only treating himself the way he had been treated, he was treating himself the way his parents had treated themselves. As a result, he was not being a good role model for his children of personal responsibility for his own feelings, just as his parents had been a poor role model for him.
In the course of working with me, Lian learned the Inner Bonding process that we teach. He learned to welcome his painful feelings during meditation. He learned to quiet the self-judgmental part of himself and to treat himself with caring and respect. He learned to take loving action in his own behalf so that his inner child no longer felt abandoned by him. It was the inner abandonment that was causing his depression. He discovered that his depression was actually a gift – a way his inner child was letting him know that he was not being loving to himself. With practice, Lian learned to take loving care of himself and his depression disappeared. Now his meditation practice was no longer a spiritual bypass.