Being Spiritual


For years I unconsciously equated being “spiritual” with being perfect: believing in the “right” God and creeds, learning rules, observing traditions, heeding authorities, behaving “correctly.” I thought you had to embody St. Paul’s Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. All the time! I thought feeling angry, sad, hurt, anxious or hopeless was weak and dangerous. By the time I knew better my addiction to spiritual perfection was so deeply ingrained it was nearly impossible to stop.
Now I know spirituality is about compassion, reverence for life, being true to yourself, and making healthy choices that arise from a genuine desire to be of benefit.  But without self-knowledge our unconscious emotions, needs, compulsions, and unhealed wounds separate our egos from the Self and prevent us from living authentically from our spiritual Source. Until this internal connection is forged, the best we can do is put on a convincing act.
In this blog I strive to be honest about my everyday experience of the spiritual journey. My most important discovery is that in repressing our true selves we repress Spirit. I tried to convey this in my Christmas post: “The Winter Holy Days From A Cosmic Perspective.” In my New Year’s post, “Visiting Old Dreams: Visioning a New Year” I shared one way I use dreamwork to connect with Spirit. And in my last post, “Welcome to the House of Chaos,” my goal was to show you a part of myself which, while often hidden and denied by “spiritual” people, is nonetheless real for all of us. I’d like to thank everyone who responded privately and publically to these, my holiday gifts to you, with understanding and gratitude, and I’d like to pass on a few words of wisdom some of them shared with me. Enjoy.
Beth sent this quote from the I CHING #3: “Just as the tumultuous chaos of a thunderstorm brings nurturing rain that allows life to flourish, so too in human affairs times of advancement are preceded by times of disorder. Success comes to those who can weather the storm.” These ancient words of wisdom speak directly to me today.  Thank you, Beth.
From a Facebook friend I received a link to the Dalai Lama’s end-of year message, “Countering Stress and Depression.”  What a relief to know he is human too.  He writes, “…we may sometimes feel that our whole lives are unsatisfactory, we feel on the point of being overwhelmed by the difficulties that confront us. This happens to us all in varying degrees from time to time. When this occurs, it is vital that we make every effort to find a way of lifting our spirits. We can do this by recollecting our good fortune. We may, for example, be loved by someone; we may have certain talents; we may have received a good education; we may have our basic needs provided for – food to eat, clothes to wear, somewhere to live – we may have performed certain altruistic deeds in the past. We must take into consideration even the slightest positive aspect of our lives. For if we fail to find some way of uplifting ourselves, there is every danger of sinking further into our sense of powerlessness. This can lead us to believe that we have no capacity for doing good whatsoever. Thus we create the conditions of despair itself.”
Finally, here’s a link to an  inspiring post from wisewoman Dr. Judith Rich who says the collective human story is on the verge of a revolutionary rewrite. The new version will be about authentic spirituality.  May you and I contribute to it.

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0 Responses

  1. dear and divine Jean raffa…. honest post…. wisdom words of silence..
    body works in time and is like a car…. so if one has to drive car nicely
    one has to observe the instructions for our body and mind…like manual
    of health for body and mind and for society we live in…. and there is a spiritual health….. the health of the driver…the soul… and tonic is happiness
    love and sensitiveness …
    now to achieve health of both …. live natural with Body and neutral with
    soul… gear the car but neutral for driver….. balance this with every
    moment is spiritual living…. happiness for every moment is prayer and
    thanks to cosmic intelligence many refer as God
    love all…

    1. Thank you, Ram. Your comment reminds me to write a post about prayer soon. I think you’re right. I think prayer is living naturally and neutrally with reverence and gratitude for the intelligent and ultimately benevolent universe which supports and nurtures me with so much love. I am feeling very grateful for the love today. Thank you for being part of it.

  2. Hi Jean,
    I really liked this entry. I made a lot of changes in my life in 2010 and working with my therapist I began to learn what self care means. In the course of trying to understand myself on a deeper level I have become a more spiritual person. Continuing this work in 2011 brings me calm and the realization of all the good things I have in my life.
    Reading your blog helps my self awareness and gives me much insight, so in many ways you are like my “on-line therapist”! Thank you for writing such a thought provoking and from the heart blog.
    Love and miss you,
    Greg Smith

  3. Hi Greg,
    Thank you for the gift of your wonderful comment. I’m thrilled for you, and especially glad you’re discovering that taking care of yourself is a spiritual practice which gives you a “religious attitude” of reverence and gratitude for the good things. You, by the way, are one of the good things I’m grateful for.
    I’m also thrilled to be your “on-line therapist.” May I be worthy of your trust! I look forward to seeing you this year.

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