A SPIRITUAL LIFE
The earth, the sky, the sea..
the bird, the ant, the you, the me...
the rock, the fruit, the tree..
it's all God....
it's called to Be.
I use the word Spiritual a lot. I define myself as seeking to live a spiritual life.
By that I mean a life where I have a lot of time for God and little or no time for religion.
Religion can of course be spiritual but often it is not. And spirituality can be religious but it does not need to be.
For me reacting to life from a spiritual perspective means that I see everything, and I mean everything, as having purpose and meaning as part of my spiritual growth. Nothing happens by chance and good can come out of everything. It is of course far more complex than that. And yet, at the same time, incredibly simple.
Having explored many religions in my life I finally decided to stick with God and stay away from religion. Hence I began to use the word spiritual a lot. So what do I mean? I have started to ask myself that question.
We need to understand what we mean when we use words to describe who we are or how we live. We need to understand what we are saying for our own sake.
The dictionary definition of spiritual includes:
· religious: concerned with sacred matters or religion or the church; religious texts; a member of a religious order; lords temporal and ... (Yes, I am concerned with sacred matters but not religion)
· apparitional: resembling or characteristic of a phantom; a ghostly face at the window; a phantasmal presence in the room; spectral emanations; spiritual tappings at a seance (this is a part of what is defined as spiritual but not an important part for me. These are effects not substance.)
Everyone is different, every journey is different, every Soul is unique and that is why each and every spiritual journey is unique. We may learn from the experiences of others but we must always walk the spiritual path alone. Perhaps that is why spirituality and religion make such odd bed-fellows. A religious life demands that we obey rules, that we believe what others tell us, that we conform. While a spiritual life demands that we live by our own inner rules; that we question everything we are told by others and that we are guided by our own truth... a truth which emerges from our intuitive relationship with God.
With religion God is given to us - handed out on a patriarchal platter in the main. With a spiritual life we are called to search for God in every moment of our being. Religion hands God out in defined shapes and forms; spirituality offers God without shape or form.
A religious life is bounded and hounded by rules; a spiritual life has no boundaries and no urgency. A religious God is made in the image of man (mostly men with female support staff) while a spiritual God is in any and every image and yet without image for it is the source and being of all things.
It's interesting trying to define what one means by the use of a word and it makes me realise how inadequate words are to describe such things. No wonder the ancients decided that God was beyond words.
Carl Jung said, 'symbol is the lost language of the Soul,' and the spiritual journey is always symbolic. Within those images we find God without turning God into an image. It is not an easy journey because so much of it is solitary and their are no rules, except for the ones that you discover upon the way. But within that place of terror where you realise that at the end of the day, it is between you and God and your job is to do the hard work, there is freedom. When you depend upon others and the beliefs of others you remain dependent; when you depend upon yourself and your relationship with God, only then are you truly free.
And the beauty of the spiritual path is that you can find God in your own way. It requires a commitment to walk with open eyes ... most of the time anyway ... and to remain open to all that is, knowing that within any 'death' there is always 'rebirth.'
And there will be many 'deaths' along the path. It can be no other way. And that is why so few choose to walk the Spiritual Path for, as W.H. Auden so succintly wrote:
We would rather be ruined than changed.
We would rather die in our dread
than climb the cross of the moment
and let our illusions die.
This is actually the only quote I remember and I am sure there is a reason for that as well. Perhaps as a reminder of how hard it is to let our illusions die. And the most powerful illusion that we have and which most of us refuse to let die, is certainty. For it is such a comfortable illusion that we never cease striving to attain it. But illusion it is.
Living with uncertainty is the First Lesson on the Spiritual Path.