Sunday, February 1, 2009

What is Spirituality?

Quote of the month:
I have lived with several Zen masters -
all of them cats.
-Eckhart Tolle

When I started this blog, I promised myself that I would only post things that I know as Truth for myself and only write what comes from my heart. Often, I will wake up in the middle of the night with ideas about what to write....and I get up and jot them down. Other times, insights come after meditation. Though I have several ideas of what I want to write about next, many of you know that I recently started working again. It has not left as much time as I'd like to write or to meditate (though I still do at least some every day!)

This month, my thoughts about what I want to write are not as clear as I'd like them to be. So I have decided to borrow some material from a recent show on spirituality in which various guests discussed what spirituality meant to them. I wrote about what spirituality means to me in the Introduction to the first post of this blog. That definition continues to grow and change over time.

Below....several spiritual leaders explain what spirituality means to them. As you read each one, see if anything they say resonates with you. If so, it may be helpful to you on your own journey to look into what they have to say further. Happy trails.....

Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now and A New Earth, says that to be spiritual is to live in a state of openness. With that openness, a far greater power comes into your life. So to be spiritual is to be in touch, connected with that dimension of depth in yourself.

Eckhart says that you need to become more aware of the aliveness of this moment. The aliveness that is all around you no matter where you are. To become aware of that, you need to become a little bit more alert than you usually are. Increasingly, you become rooted in the aliveness and the fullness of the present moment. That's to lead a spiritual life.

Spiritual author and lecturer Marianne Williamson says that spirituality wakens when you become still and humble. There are forces inside you—forces of fear and limitation and chaos—and they live inside us saying, "You can't do that." Spirituality is where you lay claim to a ground of being within yourself where you say, "I want to be that. I really do. I want to be that person that I'm capable of being."

Marianne says that people aren't happy because of what they aren't giving. The most important thing is that we learn how to forgive each other and that we learn how to love each other. How to live in the spirit of blessing and not blame. The spiritual path doesn't mean always an easier path, but it means a choice. A choice that we're making to try our best to be as loving as we can be.

Michael Bernard Beckwith says that love, peace, harmony and wisdom are everlasting qualities. They're real and they're eternal, and so when an individual is connected to those qualities and begins to exude them and express them, at that moment, they're in the spirit. And when an individual is mature enough to express that on a regular basis, we can say that they're spiritually mature. Regardless of the temporary problems you may be experiencing,

Michael says that the connection to love, peace and harmony stays with you. That which carries you when you're going through tough times. By letting go of what we think life is supposed to be, we can find greater spirituality. As a matter of fact, all spiritual growth is really about letting go of something. It's not about gaining anything. That's what it means to be spiritual.

Elizabeth Lesser is a leading spiritual thinker and the co-founder of Omega Institute, an education center focused on wellness and spirituality. Elizabeth says that everyone has a spiritual side, but she says it can be hard to tap into that part of yourself. Spirituality is an instinct. We have our instincts to eat and sleep and work and survive and thrive, but we also have a spiritual instinct. When we talk about a "spiritual path," what we're talking about is already there inside us, this instinct that we are more than our mind and body. The path is just getting obstacles out of the way.

Elizabeth says that spirituality is often simply accepting where life takes you. We all can relate to the feeling that life is happening to us. We're in this stream of life, and instead of relaxing into it, we're swimming as hard as we can against the current. That's sort of the opposite of the spiritual instinct. The spiritual instinct is to relax into the mystery of life as it's happening.

Gary Zukav was not on the show that I mentioned above, but I wanted to include his ideas briefly since he has been such an influence on my own path. Gary uses the term Authentic Power to describe the alignment of the personality with the soul (aligning with harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life). When someone lives in fear, the frightened parts of their personality are the parts that act (e.g., anger, jealousy, superiority, inferiority, vengefulness, etc.)

With awareness, in the present moment of all that you are feeling, moment-by-moment, one can learn to challenge these aspects of themselves, and move towards Love.

An authentically empowered personality has the characteristics of humbleness.. this means that one is free to love and to be who you are, with no artificial standards to live up to. Also clarity... which means one has the perception of wisdom and the ability to see the soul in action in the physical world. And forgiveness.... which means that one does not hold others responsible for their own experiences.... and love.... the energy of the soul. This includes gratitude, contentment, appreciation and awe.

To continue reading next month's post on Fear, click here.

I would love to hear your feedback as well as any questions you may have or topics you may be interested in for the future. You may comment at the bottom at the blog where it says "comments" or if you prefer, send them to me directly at

Until next month....Here's hoping you keep your spirituality simple!

Photo of the month:
Flowers in Alexandria, VA, August 2001

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