I often hear and sense a good deal of confusion out there regarding religion v. spirituality. Are they one in the same, for instance? Or why do I need to worry about my spiritual life when I’m a religious person? First of all, they aren’t one in the same. Religion often comes prepackaged as “organized religion.” Spirituality is about finding your true nature–your spiritual essence within–and learning how to live from a more enlightened perspective. Religion has a more external focus; spirituality is usually discovered within.
- What is my definition of spirituality? Spirituality is creating a path and a practice that allows you to discover your internal light. It’s about sharing that light with others, providing comfort, inspiration, and wisdom; it’s knowing we are all more than surface impressions; it’s having faith in the human experience.
- But as we close our 4-month retreat with Week 17 of Beyond Self 2012, I would like to encourage all of you to revisit prior posts in this informal online retreat and then develop your own working definition of spirituality. What resonates with you? What will give you focus going forward? How will you nurture your spiritual practice?
And if you still don’t quite understand the pressing urgency of spiritual growth within each person, remember: we all contribute to universal energy through our thoughts, actions, attitudes, and awareness. We are all interconnected as mortal beings, so it is extremely important to get beyond an attitude of “well, that happened to the other guy, so it’s of no real concern to me.” A peaceful world, an enlightened world, is not the responsibility of someone else. It is a responsibility we all share. And if you truly believe you have “mastered” all of this, please look again. And again.
During this retreat we have focused quite a bit on the teachings of various Zen masters. I always find it worthwhile to explore their words, their poetry, their message. There is a timeless quality to Zen teachings. Consider this from Muso Soseki (1275-1351) … (English version by poet laureate, W.S. Merwin):
Toki-no-Ge (Satori poem, meaning: a state of sudden spiritual enlightenment)
Year after year
I dug in the earth
looking for the blue of heaven
only to feel
the pile of dirt
until once in the dead of night
I tripped on a broken brick
and kicked it into the air
and saw that without a thought
I had smashed the bones
of the empty sky
I wish you all well in your continuing efforts to develop a spiritual practice that comforts you and others. That brings you to eventual enlightenment. It may be that life has not challenged you yet sufficiently … not enough to motivate you to seek deeper answers within. But that day will most likely arrive, as the primary purpose of life is to find ourselves: in the spiritual sense. The external world is simply here to help us along the way. So, rest assured, one day you will be challenged to grow in ways you can’t even imagine. As Eckhart Tolle likes to say: “Life never leaves you alone.” Of course it doesn’t. But since we are life, it is all one in the same, isn’t it?
Our task (and our challenge) is to welcome life in all it many forms and guises. To know that what happens to someone else, also happens to you — to the collective mortal family — and when you (and all of us) begin to take responsibility for the good, the bad, the in-between … we, finally, will be making spiritual strides. Then you will find a need and a reason to look within for a deeper reality, one that offers a lasting light. Then you will decide to quit hiding behind the make-believe notion of “that would never happen to me or to my family.” It is happening, and it’s happening right now. But difficult issues will not be solved on a purely mortal scale; we’ve tried that, haven’t we? Go beyond. Look at the world with “new eyes.”
I encourage you to return often to this 4-month retreat, our 17 weeks of study called Beyond Self 2012, to refresh and refine your spiritual practice. To find encouragement. Or maybe to continue the journal you began in September. Let your intuition speak to you in ways you haven’t really noticed until now.
I would also like to wish you an amazing new year! May insights abound; may your awareness deepen and grow. And may you become the light: for yourself, for others, for the world.
- Please note: SunnyRoomStudio will be on winter break until further notice.
Until then, you are welcome to read posts you may have missed in 2012. And the Studio Guests page can help you find guest posts. Or you may wish to simply focus on our retreat, since we did cover a lot of ground. Thanks, as always, for stopping by my sunny space for kindred spirits. See you soon!
- Comments will be open periodically, but I encourage you to consider personal reflection in lieu of.
- Here is a recap of our retreat posts …
Week One: Extend Your Gaze
Week Two: Always Evaluating
Week Three: Being Brevity
Week Four: Entanglement
Week Five: Beyond Attachment
Week Six: Eternal Nature
Week Seven: If Only
Week Eight: Nonresistance
Week Nine: Caught Up
Week Ten: Daily Life
Week Eleven: Just Look
Week Twelve: Transcendence
Week Thirteen: Awareness
Week Fourteen: Steadiness
Week Fifteen: Winter Grass
Week Sixteen: Endings
Week Seventeen: Be the Light
Thank you so much for joining me for this 17-week journey Beyond Self 2012.
- Also, during this winter break, I invite you to enjoy some of my Kindred Spirit Quotes. Or you may enjoy browsing the Books & Authors page.
At any moment you have a choice,
that either leads you closer to your spirit,
or further away from it.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Blog posts by DazyDayWriter @ work in SunnyRoomStudio: all rights reserved.