Spiritful Living — Personally Meaningful Spirituality
Big Love is all about “Spiritful Living” — a wholistic way of being and doing. Note the word “Spiritful”. It’s a word we’ve coined. While part of the Big Love lexicon, Spiritful is not (yet!) in Webster’s. In the most simple terms, “Spiritful” means “filled with and expressing Spirit”.
Living in a “Spiritful” way is an integrated, two-part approach to life based on “Personal Spirituality” and “Authentic Living”. “Personal Spirituality” connects us with Spirit (which, in Big Love parlance, is the underlying, ubiquitous, and all-pervasive Animating Presence in the Universe). “Authentic Living” then expresses our spirituality in all that we are and do. Together, they reinforce each other through the flow of Love within us.
We believe that in our most natural state, that’s how we are wired to behave — as “spiritual beings having a human experience”. Unfortunately, for most of us that innate Spiritful programming begins to get overwritten at a fairly early age. It is displaced by cultural conditioning — which might (ironically and almost oxymoronically) be called “human nature”.
Today’s Spiritful Challenge:
(Hu)Man-made, power-over cultural systems are evident over the long span of our specie’s existence. In earlier times, spiritual and religious traditions provided a certain level of checks and balances. But since the Enlightenment and the rise of science, materialism, secularization, and consumerism have gained a powerful dominance over spirituality.
Generally speaking, religions have not responded to these challenges of modernization. As a result, religion has become less meaningful if not irrelevant for many in their day to day lives. Demographics bear this out. In the U.S. the fastest growing segment of religious affiliation is the “Nones” — people who do not identify with a particular denomination. That category now accounts for 25% of all Americans — and 1 in 3 of younger adults.
Despite this trend, the fastest growing segment in the non-fiction publishing industry is in the “Religion, Spirituality, and Self-Help” category. This indicates people are acting independently to fill the spiritual void created by the decline in the efficacy of religious orders.
Coincidentally, this has occurred simultaneously with the advent of the Internet and the effects of globalization, two forces that have increased our ability to access worldwide spiritual knowledge much easier. This has broken down some of the “boundaries” of religious teachings and practices.
Reconnecting To Spirit via Personally Meaningful Spirituality:
Rather than despair about this situation, Big Love suggests a Spiritful paradigm shift. In previous time, “the priestly class” had primary responsibility for leading individual spiritual development. Big Love’s idea is that each of us assume that role for ourselves — i.e. take charge of forming and maintaining our own “Personal Spirituality”.
This does not mean we throw previous spiritual teaching out with the bath water, go it alone, and/or start with a totally blank slate. To the contrary, our task is to integrate all of our knowing — preferably in communion with others — to develop a spirituality that “fits” us.
In his book Finding Meaning In The Second Half of Life, noted Jungian psychologist James Hollis emphasized that the most important part about our Personal Spirituality is that it is validate through our own experience. We can try out other’s ideas, but only when we’ve put those to the test ourselves do we know them to be true.
So by all means study scriptures, investigate the findings of science, follow practices of rituals and prayer, meditate and contemplate, explore your intuition — use all of your faculties and resources. Then list the things that are most important to you.
In no particular order, here are some suggestions (guidelines) to consider as you work on your Personal Spirituality:
- Identify your overall vision of spirit — what do you regard as the organizing force of life and the universe — how would you describe “The Sacred Mystery”?
- Is life purposeful? — Philosopher Tim Freke, for instance, says that the purpose of the Universe (and each of us) is to realize our fullest potentiality. (See Soul Story by Tim Freke.)
- What’s your stand on evolution? — One of the current ideas is that we are now entering a time of Co-creative Conscious Evolution, and our conscious choices influence “Evolution’s Arrow” (Barbara Marx Hubbard and others are proponents of this view)
- Ethics and morals matter — The Dalai Lama advocates that they are the container for compassion, empathy, and love, the common denominators characteristic of “the human spirit”. These positive energies move life and the universe forward.
- Personal Spirituality begins with each of us — it’s up to us to fit the pieces together than make sense to us, ones that we can embody and live by.
- Walking our talk — “Authentic Living” is the real test of our Personal Spirituality; how does it work for us in the world; and, can we live by it and realize the results we desire?
- We matter — we’re part of the “Big Picture” and we make a difference with how we show up and what we do; we’re in this together and we’re all one!
And, there’s more — it’s all up to you! The key idea that we’d stress is that “Personal Spirituality” is not esoteric. It is totally related to your life and your “worldly” experiences — informing your actions and shaping your approach to life itself. As such, it’s not something you think about and put “on the shelf”. It’s not something you connect with on Sunday morning and then forget for the rest of the week.
It’s not about “the-here-after” (although it should include your viewpoint about that) — it’s about “the-here-and-now”. One of Big Love’s “tag-lines” says it all: “Big Love is about living more spiritfully — every day, in every way!” Sounds so simple — and it is if you make it your moment-by-moment practice!
Live Your Love!
Olivia & Steve
It’s Your Turn!
Sometimes a statement of “Personal Spirituality” is in the form of a “Credo” — a word from Latin that means “I Believe”. Another format would be a statement of “My Principles”. We’ll be posting more details about how to create one of these in the future.
For the moment, some of the topics that might be included in this statement would include: (1) your view of “God” (by whatever name is most comfortable) and “God’s” nature and relationship to the Universe, (2) the nature of your relationship with “God”, (3) the nature of your’s and “God’s” relationship with others, (4) how you receive guidance and information, (5) how things get done on earth, (6) how you know your Credo or Principles are “true” (what evidence or results show this), and (7) how you give thanks and celebrate life.
There is no time like the present to begin your work on this. It’s not as hard as it may seem. And, sharing your answers with others (as they share their’s with you) is often quite pleasantly surprising. Keeping your statement up-to-date is your work for a life-time (your views and insights will continuously evolve — if you relax and let it happen!).
If you’re willing, please share your responses in the comment section under this blogpost as it appears on the Big Love Community Facebook page.
Big Love News:
Just over a week until Big Love Spiritual Community’s first “Gathering”. Please hold us in your thoughts and prayers as we prepare!
If there are topics you’d like us to address, please send us an email from our “Contact Us” web page.