Saturday, February 27, 2010

A look at spirituality...

For some, the quest for spirituality can be a confusing one. Often mistaken for religion, spirituality in itself is a completely different subject. Indeed the two can exist in harmony, but can also exist separate from one another in certain contexts. Spirituality has certain components that leverage belief systems, as well as navigate us toward what we search for.

As religion in itself is a collection of belief systems, a way to profess and practice one’s faith to that which they believe; spirituality can be a preceding step to religious practices. As religious practice focuses on connection to, and worship of, a chosen inspirational deity and observation of certain traditions, spirituality starts by the development of a “connection” in and of itself.

A main goal of spirituality is an awareness of how ego can infiltrate and interrupt an individual’s connection and presence. Ego strongly tries to concern us with issues of self, narrowing of our focus, and often accumulation of material things for personal identity. It is steeped in the core belief that we are what we have, what we do, and what others think of us. Spirituality on the other hand focuses on a connection beyond us exclusively, and attempts to dispel the ego’s core beliefs.

We find in spiritual practice and principle, that a connection beyond ourselves is paramount to personal harmony. We begin an attempt to connect to our true self. Not the self that has the things, that has the titles, and the achievements, but the self that is deep within us, who is the purer form of who we are. The being we would be if the material things, opinions, and worries of tomorrow were not in the picture.

We also begin to connect to others. With that comes a development of respect for others, and their right to be individuals with individual beliefs that work for them. Coupled with respect comes a compassion towards others and the desire to allow them to be as they are, but also to extend a hand and heart to those who need it regardless of background or beliefs. Through thought, prayer, and deed we can be in constant compassionate assistance to others, and in turn make our own world a much better place to live. This is not exclusive to humans, but also all living beings including the planet on which we live.

Finally and most importantly is a search for a connection to a divine place that gives us peace and guidance. Not only acting as a beacon in a storm, but the desire to see the intelligence behind the design, a promise for something beyond us, and that there is a Divine concern for all of us as part of a greater whole. It is this quest that often places a religious practice before us to further strengthen our spiritual connections and maps out a path for us to travel. Spirituality can lead us to our religious path; our religion supports our spirituality, and healthy cycles can develop.

It sometimes can be difficult for people to jump into a religious belief initially. It can be intimidating as it may encounter people’s issues within themselves they have yet to confront, and to compare themselves to a set of values and practices comfortably can take time. However, by starting with progressive awareness of connecting to one’s self, others, and then to a divine being may be an easier transition.

By connecting to ourselves, we can start to figure out what we feel we lack, and what we seek. By connecting to others, we can see we are not alone, others have wisdom that will assist us, and there is indeed strength in numbers. In seeking a connection to a Creator, Source, or Divine being, we extend our quest to yet another realm, place our faith into more capable hands, and find solace in ways to make sense of the senseless. Compassion towards others venturing down this very personal path is essential to making the journey an attractive one. Even though many may arrive at the same place; depending on where one starts will determine the lanes and detours they must take to eventually arrive alongside you.

(You can take a personal spirituality quiz here.)


Ron Cooper said...

There is that of God within every person. Thanks for shedding some light on this important subject!

Momma Fargo said...

What a beautiful post! I really enjoyed this one!

Anonymous said...

Strength in numbers? The number of followers of a religion is no indication of its inherent truth.

You cannot place your faith into more capable hands, faith is confident belief or trust, by giving control of your faith to someone else it ceases to be faith.

as for the test: 29/100 Hardcore Skeptic. Thought as much. That test was so horrifically loaded and biased... what a strange scale too, 25-100.

@ Ron: What a ridiculous statement.

Tony Anders said...

@dr - Thanks for your comment!
Perhaps "number" was incorrect as much as "momentum". Any collective conciousness drives it towards that which it focuses upon. Numbers in and of themselves are irrelevant. More so - the point was "nice to know you are not alone".

Faith is simply belief without seeing, you can believe in something else without relenquishing your own. You simply share it. As when we have "faith" we will overcome and illness, I also like to have "faith" the doctor has a cure.

Finally the test was not mine, just a fun thing I found. As you mentioned "you thought as much" on your score, I am sure others will too. (I did on mine)I place my beliefs on a digital questionnaire no more than I do with a Facebook quiz telling me I would have been Jan Brady in a past life, or that I would be the color blue if I were a color. Simply a diversion. Yet you did confirm that you suspected the vaidity of your outcome.

I respect and welcome Ron's comments as much as yours as they are personal beliefs and opinions. Thanks for reading regardless of your endorsement of the material.

Anonymous said...

I apologise for misunderstanding what you meant by placing faith into more capable hands. I thought you meant placing control of your faith into their hands.

And yes, I realise that the test was not your own, I just thought that it was important to point out that it is hardly unbiased.

Like Ron, I was voicing an opinion: The idea that 'there is that of god within every person' is ridiculous.

Bossy Betty said...

A good, thought-provoking post. Thanks!

a.lovett said...

By grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Eph2:8(NIV)

The last two sentences in this blog sum it up well. - Confident Believer (thought as much)

Anonymous said...

Rather than faith it should read more along the lines of: "Rejection of rationalism and intelligent thought".

Anonymous said...

Here is a post of my own addressing spirituality in brain lesion patients. It may give some of you a further insight into what it is I'm on about.

Timberwolf123 said...

Tony, I enjoyed this very much. Such a nice easy journey through the discovery of Spirituality!! Thanks so much for sharing.



TirzahLaughs said...

I have very little use for religion. And most use 'religion' as a platform to hurt or demean others.

But if it gives someone comfort, who am I to deny them that?

I think most people find their own spirituality, a personal connection with the bigger univerise (the iuniverse) on their own. It might not have a name or four walls but it's just as legit as a religion.


RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

That's a wonderful way of addressing topics that are very hard for most of us to put into words. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Interesting thoughts. I know this sounds stupid, but I really haven't forced myself to think of the differences until now.

bren said...

Thanks, appreciate articles like this which cause one to think and explore truth for themselves.

Katherine Jenkins said...

Tony, I love this. I have also written on my blog about religion vs. spirituality. I was asked to be on a panel at the college where I teach on this very topic. People of every background/religion were represented. Everyone agreed that in order to embrace each other we need to connect inward and love ourselves. It starts with us and moves out from that point. In my classroom, I have students from all corners of the globe. I have learned that opening up and embracing ALL people is part of being's about embracing and loving with a very open heart. Thank you! I like the way Tirzah put it..thanks!