Wednesday, 4 April 2012

How Spiritual are you?

It is a question that comes up quite often in my life, and I always struggle to give a cogent answer.
It begs the question as to how you define spirituality.
Is it about how ‘floaty’ we feel on any given day?
Is it about being able to see angels or predict the future?
Or about seeing God in everything?
Or about fighting for justice or the environment?
How we define spirituality obviously affects the answer to the question about how spiritual we are.
If we do not measure up to our own standards we might mark ourselves pretty low. However if we set the bar too low, we might be over-confident about ourselves.
Rowan Williams defines spirituality as ‘The cultivation of a sensitive and rewarding relationship with eternal truth and love’.
It is an amazing definition, because it perfectly captures the nature of spirituality without falling into any religious traps.
He talks of it being cultivation which suggests action. It requires our attention, like growing something. We have to tend it; work out what conditions will enable it to grow, what nourishment it requires.
He talks about sensitivity. Spirituality is never abusive; it requires us to feel our way through - to sense, appraise and re-adjust.
It is rewarding in that it enriches us.
And it is a relationship - we are therefore required to relate, through our sensitivity, to this ‘other’, that we are in fact a part of.
And he describes this other as ‘eternal truth and love – giving us a sense of the infinite as well as the comfort with the self-giving nature of love.
Spirituality is therefore really about sustainability in that it is about developing a relationship with that which is never-ending, and that which will always continue to enrich us in our lives.
It is not something fey, or irrelevant, or disconnected, or separate to the real business of living, but rather it is highly practical, and probably the best hope we have for the future.
And many of us are deeply involved in it.
You don’t have to be reading tarot cards, buying crystals or meditating to be spiritual. You could be digging the garden, appreciating a sunset or occupying St Paul’s. All of which are about sustainability.
Working with nature, appreciating the environment, and fighting for justice can be spiritual. As can being careful about what we eat, or buy or what transport we use, or which detergent.
Just being aware of all these things can be spiritual. In fact anything that constitutes an awareness of the preciousness of life is spiritual. And, of course, that does include all the traditional spiritual practices such as meditation, crystals and sacred texts.
The truth is that many of us discount our spirituality because it does not fall within what we (or others) define as ‘being spiritual’. In doing so we miss seeing the meaning and the power that exists in the simplest things that we do.
Your spirituality is all about how you are, day to day. Forget the big picture and changing the world by revolution, the world changes one action at a time. One decision to lend a hand, or save fuel, or dig the soil. The things we all do on a daily basis. As Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Our relationship with life is the contribution we have to make, and when we see the significance of that, it makes us want to be even more careful of the way that we relate, in every way.
Revolutions occur when enough people care enough about the future that they make their own lives a sacrifice to that end.
It is all about reaching a tipping point. And the way we contribute is by seeing that what we do on a day to day basis is meaningful.
When we realise just how spiritual we are, then the power of that spirituality becomes apparent and we transform both ourselves and those around us.

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