Practical Spirituality or Defensive Personality – Are We Really Spiritual Beings?


So many people are seeking something in their lives – they often do not know what it is that they are seeking. They may have spent all their lives amassing great wealth or other material possessions and yet still feel unsatisfied. They often seek answers via yoga or keep fit, jogging or excessive physical activity of some sort. Fast cars, drugs, alcohol, or uncommitted sexual relationships – all provide physical stimulation but rarely provide the deep satisfaction that we seek.

People sometimes look to the eastern religions for an answer to the mystery of what it is that they are seeking and may find at least a temporary answer in these things – if they find themselves on a spiritual path Christian or otherwise they start to understand the longing that they feel for inner peace and joy. They have started on a new and exciting journey.

There is a need within all of us for nurturing a healthy spiritual self. Often this need expresses itself as an uncomfortable longing but without any understanding of what it is that needs to be satisfied. We spend most of our lives learning to live in a material world, with the understanding that material wealth and possessions will bring happiness. We become so wrapped up in this mindset that we build for ourselves a protective façade which we can comfortably present to others – a façade that shows us as successful and competent, well ordered people, people who have no real problems and no real needs. We are independent, self reliant, self-sustaining people to whom everyone can look to see the way to live but underneath we are insecure, vulnerable people who need the support of others, the love of others and the care of others.

We have a choice in our lives – we can remain behind the barrier of the personality that we have built up over the years, shut off from others – independent and supposedly self sustaining people, or we can look at the reality of our true selves. Our true self is what God made. Our Personalities are what we have made for ourselves.

I believe our true self is spiritual as well as physical. We spend a lot of time nurturing or even over satisfying our physical selves but if we ignore our spiritual self we starve ourselves of real nourishment and growth in an aspect of our being just as important as the physical body.

Are we really spiritual beings?

I believe that we are – I often use this analogy – if we take all the chemical ingredients of the human body we can mix them up any way we want, cook them if you like, pass electricity through them, microwave them, any thing you want – but you will not make a human being. If you try this you will always have something missing – the very essence of life itself. Without spirit the human does not exist. I also believe that we have feelings that are spiritual in nature- when we see a great human tragedy on television we feel pain and anguish even though we are not physically harmed or even touched in any way at all.

If you stick a pin in yourself that is physical pain! If someone we love dies – it hurts! It hurts a lot but it isn’t physical pain – there is no pin, no knife, no burning coal but it hurts! Just the same as when we see something that makes us happy we feel real joy – not a physical feeling but a spiritual one!

We need to nurture our spiritual being as well as our physical being – not by eating and drinking more or by amassing more wealth or property but by giving time and space to our spiritual needs, to be aware of our need for prayer and sacramental living in communion with our creator and our neighbour. This is the essential need of our spiritual being – simply time, space and focus on God, God’s will and God’s kingdom.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola understood the influence upon our spiritual beings and recognised both good and bad spirits or influences. He recognised the thrill of excitement and joy brought about by physical stimulation and goods but also how short lived such joy was – it was a temporary illusion and so the short term “consolation” of such things turned quickly to “desolation” as the feeling quickly passed and could not be sustained. Then he found that through a spiritual life he could find sustained joy and inner peace. He found that giving up material things and living a life of faith brought joy and happiness not only to himself but also to those around him. He found people wanting to be with him to enjoy the same happiness and peace in their own lives. He gave up all the wealth and position he had gained whilst living for material gain and left it behind him.

Others can be seen to have done similar things – St. Columba, of Iona fame, left his home in Ireland where he was a man of authority and wealth, a prince of his people and turned to a spiritual life of prayer and teaching. Even the Apostles in the gospel stories gave up their material possessions and followed Christ in a life of faith. Others from outside the Christian faith are also good examples – Gandhi, Buddha, and many others left their lives of material wealth to travel a road of spiritual nurture and faith. Such examples speak for themselves in what they achieved and for what they are remembered.

So often our self built personalities, the confident, successful personalities we show to others are so tied up with material gain that it causes us to deny both our spirituality and the real person that is the core of what we are.

But at what cost do we deny our selves in this way? If we took a vulnerable child and locked them away in a cupboard, neglecting their needs and their growth, we would be, quite rightly, accused of child abuse, but if we do the same to our real selves the vulnerable, frightened, spiritual selves that we truly are, then are we not guilty of spiritual abuse? Our spiritual needs are met in personal prayer, and fulfilment of our spiritual growth in the love of our creator, or God and our neighbour.

When we relate to others as our true vulnerable, simple selves we have nothing to fear – there is no lie that can be found out! When we give up or start to share our material wealth we have nothing to be protective of – nothing is left for us to fear losing. When we gain the love of our creator or God and of others we gain a treasure that cannot be spent but in giving our own love freely we gain love in abundance in return. Prayer is a time of Loving our creator or God and allowing God to Love us! God doesn’t need permission but we need to accept God’s love and the love of our neighbour.

The first steps on this path are not always easy but the road is a wonderful experience!

Source by Richard L Moriarty

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