Getting Real

What is Spirituality?

How are we to understand the soul?

What is the purpose of Spirituality?

What do we need to live Spiritually?

What does Spirituality Involve?

Why is it we fail?

What is going on in my life?

What kind of work should I be doing?

What I am supposed to be doing?

Will I ever be happy?

Will I ever meet someone?

Where are we all heading?

                  The DK Foundation

                                     Getting Real 5

                          What does Spirituality Involve?


To be told that the spiritual path starts from where we stand, in the circumstances of everyday life is not what many people want to hear, because it does not make spirituality sufficiently different or sufficiently exciting. It does not sound significant. Spirituality is what it has always been - a process, which takes us through various stages and experiences; it is simply ways of thinking about the process and ways of approaching it that change over time. Once we have engaged with it and committed to it, the process will take care of the rest, in the time honoured way.

Spirituality involves living purposefully. It involves organising time and opportunity to achieve a certain result. What differentiates a personality goal from a spiritual goal is the effect that the struggle to attain, and the achievement of the goal itself, has upon the consciousness of the person engaged in realising the goal.

All purposeful action has some merit because it gives practice in organisation and some aspect of self-discipline and control but not all goal-orientated activity is helpful to a man who is trying to evolve in his consciousness. The goal itself has to be purposeful, the criteria here being whether it promotes or heals separation. Separation has both an inner and other-regarding aspect: blocks in the psyche of an individual must be considered as separatist as the divisions between men.

Spiritually minded people tend to be uneasy about working to make a lot of money, for example, but there is nothing to stop this being a spiritual goal if the intention is to use the money for purposes which will be of benefit, directly or indirectly, to others. The same can be said of most goals. It is the motivation and the place, which it occupies in our lives, rather than the activity itself, which will determine whether it is a spiritual goal, or not. Conversely, we can downgrade an activity traditionally regarded as spiritual into a personality goal by inappropriate motivation, namely a spirit of competitiveness, superiority or vanity.

Most of us could make some routine activity into a spiritual goal and, indeed, most of us need to make a start at this place whether this involves dieting, quitting smoking, getting up earlier, getting our finances into better order, tackling housework or controlling expressions of irritability towards those around us. Our motivation here is a greater self-discipline and self-mastery, which will equip us for undertakings involving a greater responsibility and impacting upon greater numbers of people.

We can make routine activity spiritually purposeful if we place it in a context, give it dignity and make it important in our lives. Indeed, this is evidence of true understanding. A person who has understanding will not accept the existence of no-go areas in his life because no-go areas are separatist by nature and divisive in their effect. A person with understanding does not make a distinction between trivial and important because he knows that nothing is there by chance. If our kitchens are chaotic then they are externalising the chaos in a part of our psyches; if we can blame someone else for the mess then the problem is likely to be in our relationships and only indirectly in the kitchen. But the problem is still there and it will manifest in other ways until it is dealt with. If this block, manifesting on this occasion as a dirty kitchen, comes between us and the realisation of our potential who is going to call that trivial?

To try to run before we can walk invites us to fall flat on our faces and, of course, many people do. They are known as the walking wounded of the spiritual path.

I know a teacher who would, unexpectedly, inspect the rooms of the people staying in his community to find out the truth about them. He was wise enough to know that their words, no matter how wise, nor their smiles, no matter how beatific were the evidence he sought. He did not pry into their private effects; he simply opened the door and looked in at the state of the room because it told him all he needed to know about that person’s grasp of what he was teaching and whether they could be entrusted with more.

Making a start at this basic, everyday level may be unexciting in prospect but it is one of the most satisfying of experiences because one lives in a very obvious and direct way with the fruits of such effort. Effort of this kind has more value in the immediate and longer term than sophisticated, more obviously ‘spiritual’ regimes, involving extreme kinds of diet, sexual abstinence and breathing which have been abstracted from their context. To be effective, these exercises almost always have to be made part of a dedicated lifestyle and when they are taken out of context they can have a disruptive and pernicious effect on the delicately balanced physical and psychic system. Such regimes are unlikely to mix and match either with each other or, if of Eastern origin, with the exigencies of modern Western life. They are more than capable of creating blocks of their own. That there seems to be so little awareness of this is a testimony to how caught up in appearances and how out of touch with the truth if themselves aspirants so often are.

A person, who knows himself, knows his purpose. Purpose, in this context, means the orientation of his life but this includes the ‘subsidiary’ purposes which serve the life purpose: the acquiring of a greater self-discipline; the learning of a greater application and learning to establish more effective boundaries in relationships. If we know ourselves then we can work out for ourselves what are the shortcomings and weaknesses upon which we will have to go to work in order to achieve the life purpose.

We may say we do not know what our life purpose is or, therefore, how to go about setting the subsidiary purposes. In fact, it is less that we are unaware of what can be said to be our life purpose and more that we do not know how to trust our own judgement. That may be a major obstacle and, if we are not to waste a great deal of time, we may need to find someone who can confirm our purpose to us but there will be, nevertheless, many things which we could be doing by way of preparation, i.e. improving basic self-discipline by tackling the areas in which we know we are deficient. This is always going to be a good investment, regardless of what our life purpose turns out to be. Whatever the life purpose, there is still a life to be lived on a daily basis and one which will be conducted with greater or lesser efficiency, responsibility and effectiveness.

To introduce purposefulness into the life, gives it tone, direction and dignity. It may also serve as proof of worthiness, consistency and reliability. To offer yourself for service, to help other people, without having these qualities is impertinent. It’s like knowingly offering substandard goods. To construct an ambitious spiritual programme upon shaky foundations is plain foolish.

It is very unwise to make a distinction between what is trivial and what is important because they will prove to be the two ends of the same stick. If it affects us, it is important to us and we must be prepared to deal with it and make this our purpose.

We need to look for what needs to be done close to home and tackle it purposefully. We do not know necessarily what is at the other end of the stick. It may have more bearing on our destiny than we suppose.

And we hoped that by espousing spiritual values we would circumvent all that boring stuff! But there is no way round it; there is only a way through it and it is called mastery.

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