Will It Be Spiritual Growth or Spiritual Death?
“There are two types of seeds in the mind: those that create anger, fear, frustration, jealousy, hatred and those that create love, compassion, equanimity and joy. Spirituality is germination and sprouting of the second group and transforming the first group.”
― Amit Ray
Before you begin or continue your spiritual growth journey, consider why spiritual growth has not been a constant in your life. Have you had so many bad things happen to you in the past that thinking positively is difficult for you? Are you reluctant to speak up and disagree when you firmly believe you have a better answer to a question or solution to a dilemma? Do you fear the loss of relationships or respect if you speak up? Is your self-esteem poor? Is it just easier to be like everybody else?
Will It Be Hatred or Love?
Can you imagine a life where you no longer experience “anger, fear, frustration, jealousy, hatred” in the same way to which you have become accustomed? Spiritual maturity allows us to accept the bad experiences of life as just taking the bad along with the good. We all know people who thrive on drama and who can hardly wait to spread their experiences or hand-me-down knowledge of doom along to you so that you will feel just as badly as they do. Unfortunately, for some people that is the only way they can get all the attention they need. In fact, it is as if they are telling us just that. Personally, I would rather give my attention to someone who is not always complaining, not always suffering, not always passing along the terrible practices of others.
It is actually possible to view each situation with calm, the kind of calm needed to ponder it and decide if it is something we want to do anything about or just simply forget about it. Most of the time it is just not worth responding at all other than to say “I am sorry to hear that”. We need to start viewing some of these events as lessons and convert them into better experiences for ourselves and for others to come. How much better the outcome of a situation might be if we look at it as an opportunity for change, as we understand or actually see it.
Consider the consequences of allowing yourself to succumb to and dwell on the bad feelings a particular situation can generate. Let’s take anger for example. We have an organized drill to repeat when we get angry. Let’s say for example that someone insults us. We insult back. We raise our voices at each other. We get louder and louder and all of a sudden one has to walk away from the situation, fearing what comes next and throwing her hands up in desperation. Then we attempt logic, and still, neither person wants to understand the other. The whole cycle starts all over. We then avoid each other for a while until one gives in, conveniently forgetting what has transpired, only to repeat it again in the near future when one of us is angry for a different reason.
Will It Be Judgment or Resolution?
Getting angry often involves some form of judgment of the person, the situation or both. Being judgmental for some causes guilt and worry. This can lead to prolonged stress that in general affects our immune system and our overall health. So think for a minute next time you become angry and consider an alternative explanation to our experience of anger. Did the person mean to cause that reaction, or did you chose to react with anger? What might have been behind that person’s remarks or particular situation? You have now embarked on a journey of caring not only about the other person but about yourself as well. This caring can move into real discussion and resolution of the problem. It’s called giving the other person the benefit of the doubt. By Christian standards and those of other major religions, it is called doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.
“In the world of personal development and spiritual growth, a seeker embarks on a path of self-discovery and self-improvement. A seeker desires to discover knowledge and use an enhanced level of personal awareness to alter their behavior, opinions, beliefs, and point of view in order to experience reality in a different and more wholesome manner than the prior path that lead to self-rejection.”
― Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls
Will It Be the Same Old Road or a New One?
Based on a Wikipedia explanation of taking the road less traveled, I propose to those who have not yet begun their journey of spiritual growth that they start by choosing to take a different route to avoid conforming to what others have chosen to do. In other words, when you experience a bad situation as heard by others and passed on to you, start thinking outside of the box and take the higher road. Chances are that you already do but are reluctant to speak up for fear of being silenced. If it is a matter of having to listen to something distressful, just say, “Can we move on to a more positive topic.” If the person criticizes you for being too positive, just tell them you are turning over a new leaf.
I suggest that you do not stand down and that you say to those who would silence you, even if these are only voices in your head, that you understand their point of view but that you have a different proposal for their consideration. Then, assuming that you have their attention, continue to present your proposal using assertiveness. What do I mean by assertiveness? According to Skills You Need, assertiveness is standing up for what you believe, calmly and positively, “without upsetting others, or becoming upset,” with honesty and openness. Additionally, you need to reveal your respect for others’ opinions and feelings, revealing this by acknowledging their beliefs and skillfully showing the differences between your opinion and theirs. Practice this and see if you don’t feel empowered to continue.
“Don’t live the same day over and over again and call that a life. Life is about evolving mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.”
The life described in the above quote really is not a life. That would be tedious and boring and it is what many of us settle for, thinking that is what we ought to do because we should be satisfied. There is no “ought to do” in getting older, except that we need to be addressing every possible path to a good and wholesome remainder of life before we can truly say we gave it everything we could! Are you swinging or riding the roller coaster? Or I should say, are you staying close to the ground or are you soaring on to new and different adventures with an improved way of reacting to things?
As always, please leave your comments, fears, experiences, etc. below.
“Live life fully. Spirituality is important. Sexuality continues into the older years. Dance and be active. Service to others is essential.”
Lavada Campbell, Co-Star of “Greedy for Life”