We are born into the world of nature; our second birth is into the world of spirit.

Bhagavad Gita

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While we are all of the Spirit and, by nature, invited into the world of the spirit – a world of depth and meaning, many people simply do not seek or cultivate that part of their life.  They, it seems, prefer to stay on the surface, avoid any questioning that might prompt them to examine their life or the lives of others around them.

Some say these people lack the skills for self-examination and discovery.  I say these people more often prefer themselves and a superficiality than God and the depth and mystery that is life.  They are, it seems, prideful – wishing to define themselves in the manner that most pleases and serves them and nothing more.

To live a spiritual existence is to encounter doubt and belief, joy and sorrow, justice and injustice.  It is, for sure, to be challenged in a fundamental way – to grow in wisdom and maturity, understanding and compassion, mercy and forgiveness, contentment and patience, to become certain amid uncertainty.

A spiritual existence is an interior existence.  Ironically, in religious life, the most quiet are not often the most interior but rather the most fortified against the interior journey.  Their silence is, quite often, resistance, a form of pride and defense, or worse – aggression.  Such a disposition is unhealthy – spiritually, socially, emotionally and psychologically.

To those who seek the Spirit, I offer a short list of practices that can assist you in your spiritual development.  They are:

  1. reflect on your past and present – this gives you access to your particularized story, your biography and builds self-knowledge
  2. read about others who have taken the spiritual journey – there are common experiences to this adventure and you can find them described in the lives of others
  3. record your thoughts in a journal – pay attention to what gives you joy, frustrates you, where you fail and where you succeed, when you hurt and when you are content and what leads to each, etc. – for this deepens your understanding of your story and awakens the Spirit within; of course, the biblical stories are very instructive, especially the Gospels
  4. relate to a trusted other – a dialogue partner is priceless in the journey; in conversation about the Spirit, the Spirit is present and we hear ourselves better in voice than we often do in silence; this is the benefit of spiritual counsel – it builds your faith and hastens your journey to God
  5. relax – be present to quiet, nature, music, art, a modest meal, exercise, solitude – in these there is God and the Spirit
  6. resist bad habits and what is petty and trapped in ego and appearance – attacking others, barricading yourself, the urge to defend all that you do, attempting to control others, inflexibility, addictive behaviors
  7. revive virtue – be grateful, patient, humble, hospitable, kind, courageous, hopeful, charitable, temperate, loyal, honest, modest, hard working, reliable, diligent
  8. retain a sense of humor – life, properly seen and considered, is rather funny because we, as people, are in part quite fascinating and comical without often knowing it – which makes us all the more amusing; laugh at yourself and do not take yourself too seriously – we are, after all, only human
  9. return to church – time in worship is time unlike the routine encounters hour by hour in secular existence – the first grows you and the second more likely traps you, the first orients you and the second disorients you.

The man who has no inner life is a slave to his surroundings, as a barometer is the obedient servant of the air.

Henri-Frederic Amiel

Shalom.

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