You might be interested to know the Bible never uses the word ‘spirituality’ – but we hear it used often. In her book The Hard Questions For An Authentic Life: 100 Essential Questions for Tapping into Your Inner Wisdom author Susan Piver says, “Religion and spirituality are not necessarily the same thing. Although they may certainly travel the same path, there are certain characteristics that go beyond any specific religious beliefs and point to the spiritual nature we all share. Questions about spirituality, therefore, focus on those qualities that transcend organized religion. You can answer them whether or not you believe in God, the Goddess, Buddha, or all or none of the above.”
What does it mean when someone is referred to as a spiritual person? The word spirituality seems relatable when we connect it with an action of some sort; like going to church, meditating, hiking in the woods or listening to music. When we’re not actively involved in those activities, are we still a spiritual person?
Religion I take to be concerned with faith in the claims to salvation of one faith tradition or another…Connected with this are religious teachings or dogma, ritual, prayers, and so on. Spirituality I take to be concerned with those qualities of the human spirit-such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony – which bring happiness to both self and others.”Dali Lama
The third path is that of the “householder yogi,” one who uses the stuff of everyday life – work, family, friends, even housekeeping and other chores – as his or her spiritual path.”
Spirituality does not have feel separated from daily life; but rather a part of who we are. I found it interesting to hear Piver describe a Buddhist approach to three different paths to a spiritual life, all of which are valuable. “The first is that of the monk or nun. This path involves renouncing the things of everyday life and living in a spiritual community. The second path is that of the hermit or so-called forest monk, one who goes into the woods or sits in a cave, determined to undertake spiritual practices in solitude until enlightenment is achieved. The third path is that of the “householder yogi,” one who uses the stuff of everyday life – work, family, friends, even housekeeping and other chores – as his or her spiritual path.”
Life feels out of balance when our inner and outer lives do not connect; when our deepest spiritual beliefs and values are not being reflected in the way we go about the business of life. The following questions, adapted from those posed by Piver, are intended to explore the ways we practice spirituality every day, in everything we do. They ask us to examine not only our spiritual beliefs, but also where and how those beliefs are made manifest at work, at home, and in our relationships. They ask us to consider how our values, ethics, and core beliefs are reflected in everyday actions and interactions.
- Using the Dali Lama quote above as a starting point. What are your spiritual beliefs?
- Are your beliefs of a specific religion, self-created (i.e. experienced), or a combination of the two? Are you able to express them clearly?
- What place do spirituality and spiritual practice play in your life?
- Do you believe in God or any form of deity? If so, what or when do you feel most connected to this divinity? When do you feel it most strongly? Daily? In church? In nature? With your family or others? What can you do to make this relationship stronger?
- Do you follow a particular spiritual practice or practices, such as meditation or prayer? How strong is your commitment to these practices? Are you satisfied with the amount of time, energy and resources you devote to them? If not, what changes might you make to deepen my practice?
- What are the three qualities you value most? (for example, justice, generosity, honesty, equanimity, wisdom, faith, joy, power, love.) How deeply are these values expressed in your relationships?
- If you had to rank the areas of your life to reflect your deepest values and core inclinations, how would you order the following: family, friendships, intimacy, work, money, creativity, and spirituality? To which areas do you devote the most time, energy, resources, and thought? Are you content with this ranking? Would you prefer to reorder some of these priorities? If so, how might you go about doing that? Are internal and/or external shifts required?
- How, where and with whom do you most clearly express the spiritual qualities of love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, and happiness? Which of these are you most lacking in? In which areas of your life and in which relationships? How can you cultivate and deepen these qualities in yourself and in your everyday dealings with others?