Spiritual Growth: a Paradigm of Modern Times
We are all spirits inside a body. To enable us to realize this great truth is to believe in the opposite that has been taught for years, specifically that we are bodies with a soul. Explained in a different way, we are all souls, being of spirit that have utilized bodies so that we may grow. To grow spiritually is to recognize these interconnections. The difficult part is to understand that to grow spiritually in a world enveloped by power, money, and influence is a mammoth task. Modern amenities such as electronic apparatus, gadgets, and tools as well as entertainment media through television, magazines, and the web have cultivated us all to confine our attention mostly to physical needs and desires. As a result, our perception of self-worth and self-meaning are at best confused. How can we even begin to strike a balance between the material and spiritual aspects of our lives?
To grow spiritually we need to look within ourselves.
Soul-searching goes beyond recalling the events that happened in a day, week, or month. You need to review intimately and reflect on your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and motivations. Periodically examining your experiences, the choices you made, the relationships you encourage, and the events you engage in provide useful insights on your life goals, on the good habits you sustain and the bad habits you need to abandon. Furthermore, it gives you suggestions on how you should act, react, and conduct yourself in the midst of any given situation. Like any skill, self-examination can be learned. It does take a degree of courage and willingness to seek the truths that lie within. Strive to be objective, forgiving of yourself, and focus on areas for improvement.
To grow spiritually is to evolve.
Our understanding of spirituality change as we come to see others as potential teachers. Religion and science have conflicting views on matters of the human spirit. Religion regards people as spiritual beings temporarily living on Earth, while science views the spirit as just one dimension of an individual. Mastery of the inner self is a recurring theme in both Christian (Western) and Islamic (Eastern) teachings. The requirements of the body are recognized but positioned under the needs of the spirit. Values, morality, rules, beliefs, experiences, and good works provide the master plan to ensure the growth of the spiritual being. When you have fulfilled the basic physical and emotional needs, spiritual or existential needs emerge next. Achieving each need leads to the complete development of the individual. Perhaps the difference between these two religions and psychology is in the meaning of self-development. Christianity and Islam believe that self-development is a means toward serving God, while the psychologists view is that self-development is an end by itself.
To grow spiritually is to search for interpretation.
Religions that believe in the existence of God such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam presume that the purpose of human life is to serve the Creator of all things. Several psychological theories submit that we ultimately give meaning to our lives. Whether we believe that life’s meaning is pre-determined or self-directed, to grow in spirit is to recognize that we do not merely exist. We do not know the meaning of our lives at birth, but we gain knowledge and wisdom from our relationships with people and from our actions and reactions to the situations we find ourselves in. As we discover this meaning, there are certain beliefs and values that we reject and some we affirm. Our lives have purpose. This purpose puts all our physical, emotional, and intellectual capabilities into use. It sustains us during trying times giving us something to look forward to, perhaps a goal to achieve or a destination to reach. A person without purpose or substance is like a rudderless ship drifting out at sea.
To grow spiritually is to recognize relevance.
Religions stress the concept of our significance to all creation and as a result we call other people “brothers and sisters” even if there are no direct blood relations. Likewise, divinity centered religions such as Christianity and Islam speak of the relationship between humans and a higher being. On the other hand, science clarifies our link to other living things through the evolution theory. This relevancy is clearly seen in the concept of ecology, the interaction between living and non-living things. In psychology, connectivity is a characteristic of self-perfection, the highest human aspiration. Recognizing this paradigm makes you more humble and respectful of people, animals, plants, and things in nature. These beliefs and attitudes towards a particular dimension in your life makes you appreciate everything around you. It moves you to go beyond your comfort zone and reach out to other people, a necessary shift before you can grow spiritually and succeed at whatever you are trying to accomplish.