Spirituality is a loaded term.
What does your “spirituality” mean to you?
For some, spirituality and practice is about chasing some sort of spiritual high. For others, it’s about “attaining” union with God. And for others still it’s about reaching that permanent state of spiritual enlightenment — “ah finally, the suffering is over, I can forever rest in blissed-out, peace-of-mind.”
But what if spirituality has a more practical end than feeling spiritual all the time? What if spirituality and all our spiritual practices are simply means of making us more human and more lovingly so?
The great Jesuit priest and Indian guru Anthony DeMello said:
“Spirituality is the most practical thing in the whole wide world. I challenge anyone to think of anything more practical than spirituality as I have defined it — not piety, not devotion, not religion, not worship. Spirituality. Waking up!”
These words echo in my mind the simple truth that sometimes spirituality isn’t all that spiritual.
Sometimes spirituality, and the practices I do to cultivate my inner life, are the most practical thing I can do in my day, making me a more gentle person — to myself and others — a more forgiving person — to myself and others — and a more compassionate and loving person — to myself and others.
What could be more practical than a spirituality that results in love, compassion, and forgiveness?
The mystic paleontologist, Teilhard de Chardin said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
With the reminder of the practicality of spirituality, I hear in Teilhard’s words the invitation not to become more spiritual but to become more fully human.
We don’t need to “become” spiritual, we are spiritual.
We are spiritual to the bone.
Is this not the great awakening in all the world’s Wisdom Traditions? That the Sacred is here, that Heaven is now, and that God isn’t high in the sky but alive and well within us?
We are unavoidably spiritual.
Indeed it is the great contemplatives and mystics of the world’s religious traditions that remind us that the great gift of humanity is its sharing and participation in the divine Life, and that it is our calling to bring these divine, “heavenly” powers to bear on earth.
Our spiritual path then, is about being the humans we are called to be, waking up and walking in loving kindness, gentleness, and peacefulness of greater depth, creating a more just world, and living with a truly integral and global ethic.
Being unavoidably spiritual means we must walk the human way from our spiritual center. We can’t become any more spiritual than we already are. What we need to become is more fully human, lovingly embodied spiritual beings.
We need our living flesh and living bones to live from our authentic Divine center, opening “heaven on earth” with all people.
What could be more practical?
The Everyday Fruits of Spirituality
My own meditation practice of Centering Prayer comes with the gifted lessons that
- I am not my thoughts nor my emotions
- “God” is not out there as the Guy-in-the-Sky, but right here, right now
- I don’t have to be controlled by my thoughts
- In “letting go” I learn to just be
- I am a human being, not a human doing
- I don’t need to fight for:
- esteem and affection from others
- power and control over others
- safety and security in others
With these “spiritual realizations” I “wake up,” and find that my spiritual practice and reflection has incredibly practical implications.
I ask myself, am I becoming more loving, compassionate, and gentle with myself and others? Am I more clear minded and openhearted than I was 6 months ago? Am I more forgiving than I was a year ago, softer, and more accepting of myself and others? Does my heart break for justice in an unjust world?
If this proves to be the case, then I more easily seek and find the Divine not so much in my contemplative prayer and meditation, but in my every day, ordinary life.
As Teresa of Avila said, “God is in the pots and the pans.”
The benefit of closing our eyes and entering into contemplative practice is the recognition that the divine is alive and well within. But the fruit of this realization is in living from this awareness, so that we can recognize the Sacred in the pots and the pans.
We have to go no further than our own kitchen to practice our “not-so-spiritual” spirituality.
Find Your Spiritual Fruits
I hope you find some time today to reflect on the practical fruits of your spiritual journey.
In what ways have you evolved in mind and heart, body and soul? How has your spirituality led you to become not less human, but more fully and lovingly human?
We all need to “wake up” from the notion that spirituality is purely mystical and other-worldly. Spirituality is human. It is earthy. Spirituality is practical.
“God is in the pots and the pans.”
Finally, if you are looking to connect “in person,” join the upcoming Zoom workshop this Saturday at 11:00am ET, called Before We Called God “God.” We’ll explore the interspiritual dimension of Centering Prayer as a return to the “original religious experience.”
Click here for details and to register to Before We Called God “God.”