Spirituality and a Willingness to Change
It Takes Willingness to Change
In some very simple terms which are well understood by anyone who has already set their foot on that path, spirituality means change, flow, growth. In that sense, habit and sameness are its biggest obstacles.
Just look at so many of those folks in their advanced age how agoraphobic they have become, glued to their home and to their familiar routines, which, when disturbed become a big issue. Oftentimes they eat the same foods day in day out, insist on wearing their "favorite clothes", have their designated chair in the house, and what not.
Or those unfortunate depressed folks - depression certainly being opposite of spirituality - how they avoid any dynamism of life, like social interacting, parties, travel, even work. Sameness seems to be the only life setup in which they can handle the gloom of their existence.
Journeys for Spirituality
Travel, and I don't mean business trips but travel for fun, is a great contributing factor in personal growth, and consequently in spiritual evolvement. It derails all those trains of habitual thoughts, emotions, and perceptions that are dictated by our routinized style of life.
We could probably use someone's eagerness to travel as a measure of their spiritual aptitude, by their adaptability to all those deviations from "normal", and by their touristic curiosity. Then also by comparing between how eager they are to open that familiar door again and say that proverbial "Home, sweet home!" - and by a sadness that it's all over.
For, home is that place symbolizing our habitual life, and giving us a sense of identity. No wonder so many are saying : "There is no place like home." And it's good to be that way, as long as we can balance it by opening our hearts to those vast exteriors, to the world where we can seek new mirrors for our souls.
Gypsy with a Mission
As I am talking about home, I can't but smile thinking of those two dozen or so homes that I have had in my almost 72 years. O.K. I am not insisting that you "measure my spiritual aptitude" by that huge number, so let's ascribe it to my somewhat gypsy mentality, if that would sound less boasting.
Each one of those many addresses quickly became a "warm home", but not for long, as something in me kept outgrowing my inner status quo and craving for a change of everyday ambient.
Also, as much as finances were allowing it, we also renewed furniture, repainted walls into a different (sometimes crazy) color - whatever we could. Then we emigrated for our second time, this time to the US, more precisely Los Angeles, after selling all our possessions. Next it was Portland, Oregon, then back to LA, and back to Canada. How is that for a gypsy mentality?
A Tireless Book-Worm
My reading was equally versatile, as I couldn't fall in love with one particular angle of looking at human nature; so I felt compelled to go from those orthodox to those esoteric, and much in between.
Late sixties and seventies brought a whole treasure chest of healing modalities to choose from, and it could have been some dozen or even two of different approaches that my hungry but modest studiousness was feeding on.
Along with reading I did every practice, technique and exercise that came around, which enormously opened the valve of my spiritual aspiring. Well, something in me needed it, and before I round it up, let me emphasize that I am not taking any credit for any of it - I felt compelled to take that path, so it was not anything like a conscious and planned act of diligence on my part - more like a "dignifying addiction".
Open and Closed Belief Systems
So, how does change really relate to spirituality? Simply because it involves choice. That' s where it differs the most from religiousness, because it's an open mindset, allowing refinements, changes, junking one modality in favor of an opposite one, and constantly challenging itself with new questions, new experiments.
Religiousness, on the other hand is a closed mindset, insisting on its beliefs, and extremely unlikely to change anything at its roots and its tenets. More precisely, faith wouldn't be what it is if it allowed deviations of any sort.
For another big difference, spirituality means refining the inner world via meditation, self-discipline, while expecting all answers from within - whereas religion is seeking answers from outer sources, and more into rituals and prescribed practices.
Needless to say, those "outer sources" don't tolerate the use of logicalness and free choice, as the faith is more-less carved in stone - too heavy one for a spiritual dude to remove from his path.
Not for Stiff Mentalities
Our bodies are in a constant change, with electrical currents and chemicals creating a dance of unimaginable fireworks, those sparks igniting life in us. Nothing stays still in our nature, and spirituality is picking up that vibration to a frequency that was predestined for homo sapiens, while toning down that animalistic part in it that's all wrapped around survival.
You may easily spot those with a low inclination towards spirituality - by their preoccupation with materialistic life themes. Spirituality is known for that proactive, conscious choosing, whereas a lack of it is characterized by unconscious, reactive replays of survival programs and strategies.
Such folks can be recognized for their proud claims about being "that kind of a person...with those principles" - that don't allow much improvisation. The stiffer mentality - the less spiritual it is.
Beliefs - Subject to Change
In terms of spirituality, beliefs are merely mental tools with a purpose to enhance that best in ourselves. Unlike religious beliefs, spiritual ones don't claim to be a "reflection of a universal truth in soul" - or anything along those lines.
I can "believe" in something today, and "disbelieve" tomorrow, if some new evidence makes that belief useless. In my own dictionary belief is only a mental function used to make unnecessary a repeated "thinking it over". It is in the same brain's department with habits, skills, and learned data.
My beliefs are flexible, allowing me to modify them, change them, or junk them altogether. They are in service of an ongoing impetus towards self-advancement, and as such they are subject to change.
Dogma in both Religion and Science
Having all these differences in sight between spirituality and religiousness, we can freely say that the world we live in is by far more religious than spiritual - stuck in its paradigm that's obviously outmoded and ripe to be replaced with new sets of beliefs.
There is basically nothing wrong about believing in universal intelligence "behind all this", but it's the dogma, both religious and scientific that's holding the progress back. There are areas where science is holding its positions making itself look like a religion.
One aspect of it that comes to mind is the medical insistence on mechanistic and reductionist view of human nature, excluding the most important and most promising facet of it - spiritual capacity to heal with placebo, suggestion, cultivation of positive "emotional climate" and a new, constructive belief system. After making it a household truism that most of illnesses come from stress, pharmaceuticals and scalpel are still main and by law enforced healing modalities.
Damn, No Cheese!
Back in seventies, dr. Eduard de Bono, a fine scholar wrote a little book about "lateral thinking". It made a big impact on my personal development, as it opened my eyes about these two models of thinking - lateral and vertical.
In some very lay terms, a metaphor would describe vertical thinkers by their insistence to keep digging and digging same hole in search for water, because "it must be there" - whereas lateral thinkers will try another location after a reasonably deep hole showed no appearance of water.
Werner Erhard, founder of est (Erhard Seminars Training) used the metaphor with rats and men, proving rats to be smarter in that respect. Namely, a rat will try out all channels in a maze until it gets to the cheese - while man will keep using the same channel over and over, never "getting the cheese", which became a sort of Werner's mantra about human stupidity.
Indeed, we seem to repeat all idiocies of history, instead of snapping out of that self-defeating trance and try something else. By the way, anybody ever thought of having other than democrats and republicans to choose from? No wonder Americans are not likely to "get the cheese" this time around either.
A Personal Note
I hope you enjoyed this little presentation about the importance of change in cultivating spirituality, and maybe you found this topic as motivating as I did many years ago. Gee, I keep mentioning these "many years ago" in so many of my articles, and one of these days I may convince myself that it's time to start thinking, feeling and acting my age.
But in this meantime until it comes to that, don't pay attention to my 72 trips around the Sun, I still have a lot on my mind to share - as long as you are willing to read it. Hey, I still haven't run out of stamina to change, so maybe I use my own ideas to change that 72 into something smaller. I don't know, it wouldn't be the first time for me to surprise myself. - Be well everyone!