“The spiritual life does not remove us from the world but leads us deeper into it” -Henri Nouwen
Wonderful things start to happen when you actively respond to your intuition and to God’s voice. Sometimes our minds doubt what we ‘hear’ in our spirit. Start a business, go back to school, call this person they are having a crisis are examples of messages we may be receiving but if we don’t respond to them, the messages will become meaningless and far less often as we are not trusting that inner guidance. However, when we do respond and test out what we are hearing by following God’s voice you begin to see proofs that the ‘messages’ are correct. The business does great, going back to school was just the thing you needed to do and your friend was having a crisis. So begin to test what you think you are hearing.
You are an individual and the path you are on in life is individual to you. Your spirituality or the way you follow God is a way that is also unique to you. When and how you pray is your choice. The way you respond to God is your choice. Whether you join a religion or have daily rituals of your own is your choice. More importantly where God leads you is individual to you. Everyone is different. You can have a spiritual life in a way that resonates inside you.
“I’ve always been spiritual but I’ve never had a proper context, and it took me a while to find the proper context. It’s hard to realize you can have any kind of relationship with God you want… and so I now have a punk rock relationship with God”
― Billy Corgan
“The soul is like an uninhabited world
that comes to life only when
God lays His head
― St. Thomas Aquinas
There is sometimes a mistake that people make when they choose to be spiritual or religious for purely selfish reasons. The danger that can happen is when we are on this path of self-discovery and time with God but it doesn’t go any further. We are only looking for ways to feed ourselves. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says: So now faith, hope, and love (charity) abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (charity). Charity is an act of love. To give charity means to give love. There are many forms of charity or giving. We can begin my simply praying for them and asking God to even show us who we need to be praying for. By doing this, we will find that God often calls a person to our mind. We may not know what they are going through but God knows they need help. God may then ask for you to call them or offer them something they may need or just invite them over. Prayer is the first step we can be doing and it is a step we can take often. Mark 12:31 says: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. Giving should never be done begrudgingly. It should always be an act of love. However, giving is not static. When we give, we also receive. It is a universal law, one that God in his love has put in place. Luke 6:38 says: ‘Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.’ Deepak Chopra said in his wonderful, simple book The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success, ‘Practicing the law of giving is actually very simple: If you want joy, give joy to others; if you want love, learn to give love; if you want attention and appreciation, learn to give attention and appreciation; if you want material affluence, help others to become materially affluent.’ It is a wonderful act of giving that God has set in motion towards those who give. In that same spirit of love, we should be giving to others. Yes we receive back but let us give without the hope of receiving. Let us give in a spirit of love because we just want to bless others. Later on in that book, Deepak Chopra talks about ways we can give that are also simple such as giving someone a flower. He also makes a point that whenever he visits someone, he brings them a gift. What a lovely idea!
So we can give gifts small and large. We can give a prayer. We can give a gift such as a flower. We can give a listening ear. We can give help in the form of physical labour. We can give money. We can give a smile. We can give a hug. We can give advice (when someone asks). We can give a source of information such as when we hear of a job that may be perfect for someone who is looking. We can give our time such as babysitting for someone’s children. There are all sorts of ways we can be giving. We can choose to begin each day with the simple prayer, ‘God show me how and who I may serve today.’
Differences between Religion and Spirituality
I began this series with an outline of what I wanted to write about. I had specific ideas of what I wanted to say regarding the differences between religion and spirituality. When I looked for a definition of spirituality, I found that there numerous definitions for spirituality. When I looked for a definition of religion, I found that there were many beliefs out there of what religion actually is. Religion and spirituality can sometimes mean the same thing for people. Sometimes they are quite different. Sometimes they overlap. For the sake of the point I want to get at however I will give my opinion of what each are and what the difference is. You will probably want to come up with your own opinions of how to define these words if you haven’t already done so.
Religion is a set of beliefs that an institution presents to its followers based on the teachings of a leader or on a written account such as the bible. Its mission is to guide individuals in a particular way of life. The central core belief is usually (but not always) a belief in God or gods or goddesses. In many accounts a particular religion will often teach that their teachings are the true teachings and to beware other teachings or religions. Religion can often be judgemental of other institutions or individual people. Religious institutions are often charitable institutions and believe it is their purpose to help others. Religion can also mimic a family and help those who wish to belong to something.
Spirituality on the other hand is not institutionalized. Individuals are guided from within. It can include a belief in God or a supreme being or goddess or other spiritual beings. It sometimes holds a belief that the individual person is in essence a divine being (not the Supreme Being). However the beliefs are unique to each individual person based on what they feel their inner guidance tell them. A spiritual person has respect for people of all faiths and religions. At its best, spirituality helps individuals to be in touch with their true selves to grow in love and empathy towards others and to continually birth themselves.
There can be something quite special that can happen when you take the best of what religion has to offer and marry it with the best spirituality has to offer. Sharon Janis says in Spirituality for Dummies that ‘Spirituality is the mystical face of religion.’ And ‘Spirituality is the pearl within the shell of religion’. Marry the two and you can get people who believe in equality for all, who practice non-judgmentalism. You get people with greater empathy for others, who are quick to forgive, and who give freely. You get individuals who are actively tuning in to inner guidance and God, who are become more and more their true self every day. You get people who want to work together for a common good that of which helps others. You get people who feel free to make decisions regarding their own spiritual beliefs but do not feel alone.
In summary, spirituality can enhance and fulfil your life and can positively affect individuals, institutions, corporations, businesses and the world.