THE SECRET TO SPIRITUAL CONTENTMENT PART ONE
THE SECRET TO SPIRITUAL CONTENTMENT
©Norman W Wilson, PhD
All of the great religions, ancient and modern, eastern and western, Christian, and non-Christian have failed to materialize that singular condition that provides for individual spiritual contentment. Certainly, the great philosophies have added little clarification
One may hold specific religious convictions and still not be a spiritual person. Spirituality means connecting to and realizing we are a part of the natural world, connecting to that which cannot be named, and to the
What then is the ultimate secret to spiritual contentment?
To begin, one may accept from each dogma, each religion, and each philosophy that which makes us feel spiritually content. If it’s kissing the Blarney Stone, then do it. If it's bowing toward Mecca several times a day or going to Wednesday night prayer services or Sunday Mass then do it. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? But there's a catch.
Those who are into traditionalism will find such a pick and choose approach appalling claiming it's a denial of The Church, whichever one they wish to call The Church. What is more traditional than the belief in and the acceptance of human spirituality? Spirituality has existed since the beginning of our universe and beyond. It is not something that has been created since the beginning of civilization. It has existed long before we had massive organized religions with their grandiose edifices, long before the voluminous edicts of dos and don'ts, and long before the introduction of overly orchestrated ritual. In following such traditionalism there's a catch.
The simplest person in the simplest surroundings can express his/her spiritual soul. A simple exclamation such as "Yes" suffices as an affirmation of that which is divine— our soul. Generally, when we seek communion with the Creation we look upward, toward the heavens. And that may be misplaced. Should we not look inward? And if we do, there's a catch.
I suppose I should be quoting scripture at this point. I will leave scripture quoting to those who feel such an accomplishment expresses a superior wisdom for certainly, I do not lay claim to being wise. I am that I am! And what is that? A spiritual being who unabashedly admits irreverence for those wearing religion as a singular badge of their holiness and of their superiority.
Listening to their judgmental triads spewing from their gaping mouths simply reinforces my concern that there is a lack of genuine spirituality in today's world: The souls of such persons are already weathered, blighted, and suffocated from ethno-egoism.
Selecting and choosing that which works for you individually on the surface appears to advocate an invitation to chaos. Such chaos certainly poses the greatest threat to the world's organized religions. It means the loss of billions of dollars, vast physical holdings, and finally, and most importantly, the loss of control over masses of people. It is my limited understanding that non-denominational churches were an attempt to provide for that individual choice. As it turns out, they are as structured as the "named" denominations and present a specific religiosity.
With the entrance of "New Agers" in the late 1960s and early 70s and their plethora of ramblings, rumblings, and ruminations of what is and what ought to be, created more questions than answers. What exactly was this New Age? Was it communicating with a yucca plant in Colorado or laying bare-butt naked on a rock in Arizona attempting to soak up mother earth's energy and crying out "I am Man?" Or was it getting stoned on pot, LSD, or crack cocaine. Was it wearing long hair, beads, faded jeans with cut out knees, and a hole just below the right rear cheek to show you were naked underneath? Did it mean being bearded and spouting esoteric poetry? Is it the philosophy of "if it feels good, do it?" Ah yes, it is said to have been an effort to return to a more natural world. Okay, but why all the trappings? Why all the pretense? Why not just be?
Just be? Didn't I say take from each dogma that which helps you feel spiritual? You got me there; I did. So, why am I so critical of the New Agers? Aren't they seeking the spiritual? Remember I said there was a catch. I even repeated it. So, what's the catch? Their quest is self-centered, and ego-based. From one viewpoint, man is advised to love his neighbor as himself. Not bad. In fact, it's pretty good. The Hippies of the 60s and 70s preached "Love." Unfortunately it degenerated into irresponsible sex and drug use, both of which have continued into the 21st Century. Love your neighbor has been interpreted to mean don't be selfish. You know, give it all away. Such an attitude relies upon the notion that Self and selfish are one and the same. And therein lies the rub. They are not! To love your neighbor as yourself means you FIRST must LOVE your SELF. Now you have it! The ultimate secret of secrets.
You have to love your Self, that inner being, that which transcends all other identifying attributes. Any demand that negates the value of Self denies Selfhood. Recognizing the value of Self is essential for Self Love. If Self Love is not present how then can you possibly say you are spiritual? Without Self Love, there can be no spiritual contentment.
If you accept the notion you were created in the image of the Divine, how can you negate that which IT created by demanding that you love your Self less? You can't and remain spiritually whole, that is, spiritually content.
Suppose these concepts of individuation of the spiritual experience were to catch on what might the logical projection be? It would become organized, with specific procedures, ceremonies, and demands. Traditionalism would rear its ugly head and again threaten the individual experience. What has to be understood is that all spiritual experience is personal. The late Ayn Rand's statement regarding a collective stomach eating the same meal is appropriate here. There isn’t such a thing as a collective stomach; likewise, there isn't such a thing as a collective experience. You may participate in a group that claims such experience, but the GROUP did not have the experience: Individuals within the group did and to that extent, it is individual—always. As Deepak Chopra reminds us, "Religion is belief in someone else's experience. Spirituality is having your own experience." Namaste
©Norman W. Wilson, 2020.