Monday, February 22, 2010
Master of Spiritualism/Defining Spiritualism
By Dennis Zerull
Conceivably defining spiritualism could be a bit like defining the Universe. The possibilities are endless and the definitions in form or language could fill volumes of texts in the largest of libraries around the world. When one thinks for a moment of each and every individual's experiences both positive and negative just upon this planet alone, not to mention the experiences in different dimensions not yet understood, it brings me back to a simple thought from Carl Jung. Jung said "the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being".
This course touches upon that light buy the author's own experiences as well as using examples of some of the worlds best known philosophers works recorded to date. While some of these philosophers had made attempts and what is seen by some as great strides in trying to explain the human condition, they were somewhat successful in developing a course by which man can achieve great goals and others have failed miserably. Such is the case with Marxism to suggest one example. The "one system" that works for all in the utopian way of thought can only lead to the undoing of this illusion at some point. The author does a fine job in pointing out this fact. But when taking this course the student must ultimately decide when it comes to philosophy what course lies ahead and which one they will follow. Yet this course does a good job in taking a look at some of the more popular routes throughout history.
I do find it a bit odd that the author in his last lesson would say that: "I have decided that any philosopher who has never been married (and who if married has not made it through at least ten or more years of marriage) is a philosophy that is less than worthless". I beg to defer. The Dalia Lama has never been married and has proven not only to be one of the great philosophers or our time but a great spiritual leader, author of over 25 books and mentor to millions of people on this planet. It may be because of the great suffering that the author experienced in his life on the road to enlightenment or spiritual experience that this perception is made in his statement. But ultimately I think the point he makes in this course is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The course one takes is entirely up to the individual.
Some humans are born into a great spiritual condition while others must struggle to find what it is that brings them closer to the God of there understanding or consciousness. Perhaps it is maternal love, empathy, and other positive mental states or unpleasantness that eventually triggered a deep state of calmness, clarity and compassion. Some humans will never find any spiritualism in this life at all.
As humans, simply coping with the internal and eternal challenges that present themselves on a daily basis leaves little time for reflection to evaluate our habitual responses to day–to-day events and consider that perhaps there may be other options. Over time as the author mentioned in his lesson, a deadening sense of suffering can occur and our egos play it out in endless scenarios of pain and misery to were it finally becomes a sense of, this is the way it is and the way I am and there is nothing I can do to change it. In most cases people suffer horribly or aren't even aware of this way of seeing themselves and the world around them. This basic attitude of hopelessness sits in a layer of sludge on the bottom of a lake, present but unseen. Robert Frost once said: "the best way out is always through". Some people can't grasp such a radical alternative right away so we start to suffer from our own thoughts. We may start to avoid people, turn to drugs or alcohol, loose sleep, hide in our homes, or fight with our loved ones until all you can think about is figuring out how to escape. Unfortunately there is no escape because we can't hide from our own minds. Eventually if we are fortunate we finally figure out that the problem is the solution and we begin to understand what the particular situation is. We begin to seek something greater than ourselves. In the Christian tradition it may be the teachings of Jesus or for a Buddhist the first teachings the Buddha gave after he attained enlightenment.
Spirituality or enlightenment is a term that can sound a bit grandiose or unattainable by most people. It is actually quite simple. In terms of thinking it can be as simple as habitually walking through a dark room, bumping into the chairs or a coffee table. One day by luck or accident we brush up against the light switch or a button that turns on the lights. Now suddenly we see the room and all of the furniture in it, the walls, the rugs and perhaps with a deep sense of wondering we actually see it for the first time. We realize the light switch was always there. We just didn't know it or maybe we just didn't think about the possibility that the room could be anything but dark. We have spent our lives navigating in the dark that we've forgotten how to turn on the light.
As humans we also suffer from not getting what we want and not keeping what we have. Whether it is marriage, our jobs, or in some cases our faith in God or your concept of a God or Spirit. Life doesn't stay in place for a moment. All living beings and the contents of this world are impermanent so therefore we should not suffer from attachment to a set of beliefs or perceptions. Change your perception and your experience will change. We all experience a profound desire to survive, to live and maybe experience some moments of peace. Finding peace in silence or meditation helps us to comprehend that thoughts, emotions, judgments and sensations come and go and helps us realize that attachment to our perceptions of who we are or what we are, what we want, what we need or what we don't want are common to all living creatures. Acknowledging that all conditions are bound to change, we can approach each moment with a bit more clarity and allow new avenues in our life to flourish and grow.
The desire for everyone to achieve happiness in this life and the effort we put forth to achieve that goal is done through loving kindness. Buddha knew this and Jesus knew this. Both gave us direction and instruction to practice. Spirituality may come and be perceived in many forms. A thought, an experience, a moment of profound clarity. When you choose to be happy, you can't avoid seeing the same desire in others. When you clearly look at your own fear, anger, or aversion, you can't help but see that everyone around you feels the same fear, anger and aversion. This is wisdom. The awakening of the heart, the recognition of our connection to others is spirituality.
Each morning when I wake up I try to shape my thinking in beneficial ways before I begin my day. I have to watch my own thought process and try to observe my mind so I do not get immersed in it. It helps to extend human values outward, extending from a single person to your family and from your family to their friends. In this way we can not only transform our family but our communities and hopefully our nations and our world. If we cultivate our minds in the way of the spiritual leaders that came before us and we practice what they taught us, it will lead and spread to a better world. Practice the profound. "May my body, my speech, and my mind be used in a more compassionate way so that they become a service to others".
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