Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Staying Spiritually in an Unspiritual World....

Regardless of the simplicity of your life, you will still encounter times when everything seems complicated and insurmountable. That's the toll of modern society: unless you manage to pull out entirely, find yourself a dwelling on a deserted island, and live from the fruits of the trees that are hopefully plenteous, you will get confronted with hardships that you would rather not face: tax issues, renewal of licenses, fines for this or that, monthly bills, you name it.

For let's face it: being human also means that you will sometimes make mistakes and forget to meet society's requirements in a timely manner. And once you have made that error, the severity of modern civilization will definitely present itself to you in its grimmest version.

To make a long story short: we have all been confronted with troubles at times. In every mature life there have been crises that pushed the affected individual to the edge of his or her sanity and bearing. And whether these molestations of dispiritedness are the result of your own fault or not; whether they manifest themselves at home, in the workplace, or elsewhere; whether they are huge or minor; and whether they pertain to you directly or someone you dearly care for: you can try to keep your spirituality alive by executing the sequence of points below:

1. Let it out. Cry, cuss or scream if you really have to, but make sure you vent, and don't implode, as that may cause severe damage to both your body and your spirit. In the worst case, swallowing your setbacks may lead to a heart attack or a stroke, and you don't want that. However, when you cry out loud, do that toward one who cares and will not hold your vulnerable moment against you later on. In these times of increasing calls for spirituality in the workplace you may very well manage to find an honest, trustworthy colleague, but you might still want to practice some carefulness since many of us are, unfortunately, still performing in a very aggressive, politically loaded corporate environment.

2. Reflect and rationalize. Evaluate the effects this event has on your living or work circumstances, but even more, on yourself. Some of the things you can contemplate on are: What is the sense of this? How logical was it that it would happen? Could I have avoided it, and if so, how? Are the effects this event sorted so far rational? Depending on the questions you ask, you will soon find yourself formulating your possible next steps.

3. Take action. This is where the implementation of the "next steps" formulated in point 2 takes place. Actions may vary from phone calls to make and letters to write to things to sell and new environments to move to. Especially the latter should never be overlooked as a valid option: there are too many people who automatically discard this possibility as a course of action, and thus stay in an unpleasant situation for mere fear of change. Many workplaces and homes consist of people who dream of alternatives yet lack the creativeness and courage to really achieve these options.

4. Evaluate the lessons learned. Although part of this process already surfaced in point 2, it was not yet in evaluative stage at that time. But once the actions have been formulated and executed, you will usually find yourself having a more rational and less heated perspective of the event. So, this is the right moment to analyze how this event can benefit your self toward achieving a higher level of maturity and spiritual awareness. It is therefore important not to limit your evaluations to a narrow perspective, which is a strict formulation of what to do and what not to do in the future regarding this case, but to also review the broad perspective, in which you formulate your past, current, and future place in society, at home, at work, or whichever areas the problem affected.

5. Release bad feelings. Now, this may sound easier than it is to be applied, especially if your problem was caused by someone who sold you out or acted on basis of a senseless bias, or by an act that someone could have avoided if only he or she paid more attention or demonstrated a more humane attitude toward you. But releasing bad feelings is not impossible. Although it is not recommendable to forget what happened and why, it only affects you negatively if you remain stuck in a pessimistic mindset that usually accompanies the event at first.

Move on: wiser, and without grudge. So, why is grudge mentioned again here if the bad feelings toward the situation and the ones involved are already discussed in point 5? Well, because you may have neglected releasing the grudge you may hold toward your self! Many times we blame ourselves for things that happen to us, and perhaps we are not always wrong when we do that. But it is absolutely of no use to remain angry with yourself, no matter how stupid you consider the trouble you got caught in. As has been stated by many authors before, there is a lesson to learn from everything we experience. If you remain angry with yourself, you will fall into the mindset of not liking yourself. And if you don't like yourself, you will make it very hard for others to do so!

Dr. Joan Marques, Burbank, CA, 6/02/04Reprinted from Zongoo! Self help

Two Types of Spirituality ... Faith and Knowledge

The term "spirituality" is a confusing term. Usually, when one mentions "spirituality", the first thought in many people's minds is that of "religion". While religion is an aspect of spirituality, spirituality is not an aspect of religion. Spirituality covers other areas of belief as well. Put simply, spirituality is the all-encompassing arena of "belief in something greater." This can be a god, oneself as the greater being, or simply, the life-force or essence that surrounds us all. But, society and religion lead their followers in many different directions replacing core meanings with moralistic and idealistic terms in hopes of garnering attention by answering those "big questions" pertaining to life, death, the after-life, and a god.

Faith vs. Knowledge

While many religious zealots view the idea of knowledge-based spirituality as "agnostic", indeed, it is not. As a matter of fact, even agnosts believe in something, which provides them an alternative stance to organized religion and gods. You have to believe in something to take a stance!
Faith-based spirituality is the belief and trust that things will be as they will be in the future. It is the acceptance of the "great mysteries" of life and death for which religion and society teaches that there are no "definitive answers." Such an approach to spirituality creates a fear-based environment based on gods who are vindictive and uncaring. Believers place their lives into the hands of an unseen being in the hope that all will "work out for the best."

Knowledge-based spirituality is the understanding and kinship of all and the desire to achieve and progress through life toward one's own Vision and goals. The "great mysteries" become topics of personal research and, with an open mind, answers can be acquired from the environment and the Universe. This type of spirituality invites one to set aside fears and examine the information and entities of the surrounding environment. One has the chance to take life into one's own hands and guide it along a path to one's own desires.

Hatred and Faith

One of the problems of today is that, in our world, wars, hatred, and bias begin in the moral grounds established by religion and society. Religion creates a solid separation between different factions of humanity. These factions take the core ideals of society and mutate them to suit the needs of their particular beliefs. In the end, when societal boundaries are breached, and control languishes over the ranks, uprisings and bitter conflicts begin to restore order. The stronger of the factions wins and forces their beliefs on the weaker.
In faith-based factions, fear is instilled and faith that a great hereafter exists. People fight to maintain their beliefs because they've finally "forced" their conscious minds to accept the unanswered questions based on invisible and unfounded guesses by their "noblemen". The battles are fought to ensure that their foundations and comfort zones are not affected by the infidels of the intruding factions.
However, with knowledge-based factions, fear is minimized and the great hereafter is right here and now and continues on forever. Knowledge provides the mind with a greater degree of processing information arriving at our many senses in many contexts. It allows us to look beyond the basics and outside of the accepted "comfort zones" to comprehend the ideas and ideals of other entities, both physical and spiritual.

Opening Your Mind

As part of our being, we all have the need to believe in something greater than ourselves. There is a part of us that "has to belong." Many people fall deeply into organized religion because it provides the camaraderie and a focal point for their community as well as a basis for the moral code of the community. These, in addition to the faith-based answers to the "big questions", provide a comfort zone and a foundation for many. However, by opening one's mind and examining the many facets behind these "big questions", one can develop and acquire the true answers within one's own context.

What is the key? Context-free rationalization. Of course, "context-free" is a little strong as we must all have a context, or a point of reference, that we can use to compare information and apply our rules and belief systems. However, open experience and vast knowledge can provide us with multiple contexts that we can use to devise a wider view of a particular piece of information. This wider view is what is called an "open mind". The open mind has no safety zone as it is always risking it's "comfort zones" in search of new information and new ways of examining situations and other beings.

What's next?

Acquiring this knowledge and ability to move across many contexts is not a simple task as it requires the ability to acquire, accept, and process information outside of our current context. It is a "chicken or the egg" situation; however, it is a decision that we make as humans to initiate such a move.

By opening our minds and perceptions, we allow our conscious minds the ability to communicate more freely with our subconscious minds. In doing so, the vast amounts of information available in the collective unconscious, "The Grid", "The Universal Library" is available to us, simply by " looking." Consider the idea of opening the mind as a primer for what follows once you are able to use your mind to its fullest capabilities and acquire immeasurable knowledge from all entities across the Universe and throughout time.

This is the true meaning of spirituality. The knowledge and desire to exist with and within the Universal essence. To accept and acquire knowledge that is freely available to you through time and space. Finally, the knowledge to use this information in a way that is beneficial to you, as protecting and projecting yourself, you are providing a pathway for others and the betterment of your communities.

Copyright (c) 2004 Edward B. ToupinReprinted from Zongoo! Self help
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