What Is It To Live A Spiritual Life
By Dr. Daniel Acuff
So many people, myself included, when asked: what religion are you, respond with “I am spiritual, not religious.” But when I sat down to write this article, I realized I hadn’t a clear notion of what it meant to truly live a spiritual life. And certainly I was not even close to being expert on the subject. So instead of displaying my ignorance with any sort of inadequate attempt, I turn to those who are far more qualified and adept.
Margaret Paul Ph.D. in a Dec 21, 2016, article in the Huffington Post said it this way: “You go to church every Sunday and you say your prayers every day. Does this mean you are a spiritual person? No. You practice yoga and meditate every day. Does this mean you are a spiritual person? No. You belong to a spiritual group and are devoted to following the teachings of the group. Does this mean you are a spiritual person? No.
What, then, does it mean to be a spiritual person?
Being a spiritual person is synonymous with being a person whose highest priority is to be loving to yourself and others. A spiritual person cares about people, animals and the planet. A spiritual person knows that we are all One, and consciously attempts to honor this Oneness. A spiritual person is a kind person.
So, you can go to church every Sunday and say your prayers every day, without caring about loving yourself, others and the planet. You can practice yoga and meditate every day without being conscious of what is loving and what is not loving in your thoughts and actions. You can belong to a spiritual group and devotedly follow the teachings, yet still be judgmental toward yourself and others in your daily life.
There are many religious people who are anything but kind. We all know of religious people who are extremely judgmental, righteous, and outright mean. But can you be both religious and spiritual? Of course!
If you want to be a spiritual person, then let kindness be your guiding light — kindness toward yourself, toward others, toward animals and toward this beautiful planet that is our home. Recognize that we all have the spark of love that is God within us, and learn to honor that love so that you can know and experience the Oneness of all that is.”
And from the greatest minds and hearts:
Einstein on spirituality: “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”
The Dalai Lama: “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
Deepak Chopra adds these guides to more spiritual behavior:
Act with integrity/ Speak your truth/ Remain unswayed by the need to be liked.
Do not fear authority/Respect your personal dignity and others/Remain self-reliant, not dependent on others/ Do not blind yourself with denial and self-deceptions.
Practice tolerance/Become slow to anger and quick to forgive.
Jesus Christ: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
What is “spiritual growth”? Many also claim to be on a spiritual path. I often think that I too am on this path toward greater spirituality. But again, what is it to grow spiritually? I believe Einstein said it best: “A human being is a part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
A self-assessment: Score yourself from 1 to 5 on this approach to a “Living a Spiritual Life scale.” 1 is NEVER and 5 is ALMOST ALWAYS:
I am alert to the needs of others and try to help them. 1 2 3 4 5
I am kind to everyone. 1 2 3 4 5
I greet people when I am out and about. 1 2 3 4 5
I avoid being judgmental. 1 2 3 4 5
I compliment and acknowledge people. 1 2 3 4 5
I forgive those who have hurt me. 1 2 3 4 5
I take time for gratefulness, prayer or meditation. 1 2 3 4 5
Spiritual growth is a priority of mine. 1 2 3 4 5
I take care of animals and the planet. 1 2 3 4 5
I love myself and take care of myself. 1 2 3 4 5
45 out of 50 possible: You are living a quite spiritual life. 40 to 45: Room for improvement. Below 40: Time to self-assess. Validity check: Have someone who knows you very well score you, then discuss.
DR. ACUFF’S BACKGROUND: Dr. Acuff’s Ph.D. is in Philosophy, Sociology and Education. He has been a seminar leader, radio talk show host and educator. He is author of fifteen books including three philosophical/spiritual works of fiction: God Lied – What’s Really Going on Here, The Mysteries of Quan, and Golf and the Zen Master.