How I Found My Spirituality

In my lifetime, though a series of growth stages and shifting beliefs, I’ve learned to apply the practice of seeking guidance and counsel from my Spirit, my Inner Counselor. It has helped me gain insight enough to see my way out of sticky and tight situations, figure out how to resolve a dilemma, know what step to take next, and even ‘see’ the future when necessary. Owing to the intimacy fostered between me and my Spirit, I’ve come to refer to her as my Beloved.

Spirit. Beloved. Her.

I want to make something clear. By referring to my Spirit as ‘She’ I am not expressing a gender-wish. Nor is my reference based on any actuality of gender in the spiritual dimension. I am simply using a reference that I ‘feel’ and connect with deeply. It is also my way of applying the natural order to the spiritual for the sake of bridging the illusory divide between Spirit and Human. And by the way, I also use ‘He’, too. Just depends on what I feel in the moment, without thinking about what I am feeling or why.

Applying gender is a way of conforming the unseen to the seen, of shaping the unseen in the mold of what I know, in my image, so that a common ground can emerge to my perception and provide a way of building relatedness. It is no different than molding ‘God’  in the image of the Human and ascribing Human attributes and designations like He, Him, Her, Father, Mother, Daughter, or Son in order to make God ‘more personal’ (and then capitalizing the first letter for distinction lest some mistake the clay for the potter).

I use the term ‘Spirit’ because I relate to it this way. Some prefer ‘Higher Self’, ‘Inner Self’, ‘Higher Mind’, etc. We are free, of course, to use any term that serves us best wherever we are in our thinking.

Now, as to how I reached this point of being able to consistently receive counsel from my Spirit, it really is based on several realizations, two of which I’ll mention here.

The first is that spirituality does not have to be approached with the air of mystery that it often is. Spirituality is as natural as the plant and animal worlds, as biology and Human physiology, which appear quite mysterious to us when the learning is absent.

Mystery, and the perplexity that arises from a distant viewing of mystery, has its place because the spiritual realm is cut off to a great extent from our perceptions and completely from our senses, both a result of conditioning. What can help mitigate the sense of mystery that widens the chasm between the world we are reaching out to and our sense of it is simply a measure of faith that it, the spiritual domain is knowable through experience. It may require some child-like faith to arrive at this assumption, but this kind of acknowledgment is not unfounded and has been ‘rewarded’ over time as I persisted with my personal growth work and my consistent practice.

Second, spirituality is not an organized religious system of belief and practice and does not derive any authority or validity from any religious systems anymore than the atom derives validity from science. Spirituality is a personal realm defined by you, validated by you, and upheld by you alone. Like dreaming,  it is a profoundly personal experience, not a shared one.

This second distinction, that spirituality is a personal experience apart from any religious system or knowledge, is vital to a rich spiritual life. We all are taught to rely on the authority of books, collective learning, traditional systems of learning, and trained, credentialed individuals to arrive at ‘truth’ and to know what that ‘truth’ is.

As a result, our sense of personal authority and responsibility atrophy and with them our evolution as spiritual beings is slowed, hindered, or checked. Consequently, that which we are cut off from because of our deferring to external authority and rigid traditional thought, takes on the appearance of grave mystery that is better explored and explained by others – experts with training, licenses, degrees, and know-how.

Children illustrate perfectly this phenomenon at work and although we, parents primarily and other authorities, lay ground rules, a framework for living expressed as do’s and don’ts, the point is to be guided and informed by them, not governed and hedged by them. We, the individual, must decide at some point whether the rules and prohibitions are valid and applicable to us.

We are meant to be free, independent, exploratory, and experimental with our growth and learning in all aspects of living that arouses our interest and curiosity. Who or what benefits when we are intellectually and spiritually dependent?

These were the issues and questions that confronted me when I radically shifted away from the religiosity of church-centered Christianity to the gray world of independent, mystical wanderings (but never aimless!). I knew I could not go back to reliance on and confidence in the truth of books (the Bible, history books, science, newspapers, etc) but I had no clue as to how to move forward.

Sometimes I had to crawl. Still do, at times.

I had no church, no pastor, no elder or congregation to turn to when unanswered, and some unanswerable, questions arose. I had no book or traditional practice to steady my course, guide me, or enlighten me. I had no fellowship with other church members to encourage or comfort me. Finally, I had no wife anymore for companionship as she and I divorced over our diverging paths. I was alone.

I had no place to turn.

So I turned within.

And that has made all the difference.

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