Spirituality — A Very Substantial Subject
Substance — The divine idea of the underlying reality of all things.
Substance is everywhere present, pervades all things, and inspires
to action. It underlies all manifestation and is the spiritual essence,
the living energy out of which everything is made.
Charles Fillmore, The Revealing Word, pp. 186-187
As we talk with other people about Big Love, one of the first questions that comes up is: “Is Big Love a spiritual organization?” This is a question that makes us squirm a bit — mainly because it feels a little “loaded”. It often feels like it’s being asked as a “qualifier” (as opposed to one of simple curiosity). It feels like our answer — depending on a simple “Yes” or “No” — may lead to either an embrace or a rejection by the asker.
To date, our best answer is “Yes — and a lot more.” We often follow this up with a clarifying statement to this effect: “Spirituality is a prime topic, but we see Big Love more as offering a holistic approach to living — one that includes and is based on a spiritual perspective, applied to all dimensions of day-to-day living. We think of it as “Practical Spirituality.”
This is an important topic, so permit us to expand the discussion of it.
One short-hand definition of “spirit” that we use is that
“Spirit is the animating energy of the Universe residing in us, as us, and all around us.”
At the personal level, we hold that “we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” This is based, in part, on a Biblical perspective. The Bible says that God is Spirit, that humans are made in the image and likeness of God, and therefore, at our very essence, we are spiritual beings. [ * See footnote.]
The idea of humanity’s spiritual nature is not exclusively linked to the Judeo-Christian traditions. In Hinduism, for example, Brahman is the Supreme Being but each person is in-filled with Brahman’s presence in the form of the Atman. Atman is the equivalent of “the Christ Within”, an individual’s personal spiritual connection to the whole.
So, one beginning point is the idea that Spirit is in every one of us. It’s a common bond we actually share. Something like DNA, but more. It’s what’s behind, beneath, and included in DNA — perhaps more like an idea, a quantum probability, or a “field” than a thing.
Charles Fillmore’s definition of “Substance” (cited at the top of this blog) captures this idea quite succinctly. Note his words about it being the “spiritual essence”, the “living energy” that “underlies all manifestation”. This suggests that Spirit is the mystery behind all things that is expressed (in many and ever-changing ways) in and as our “material world”.
This includes not only humans — but all we create and all of creation. Thus, to consider Big Love (or, for that matter any other enterprise) by definition is that it’s ultimately all about spirit! So, “Yes” Big Love is about spirituality — but it’s not limited to that. It is a holistic exploration of the spiritual reality of all things — their interconnections, inter-relationships, and inter-dependencies.
This leads us to Big Love’s operational definition of “Spirituality”, which is:
“Spirituality is the activity of developing an ever deeper understanding
Spirit and living more in alignment with Spirit every day, in every way.”
One of our “missions” is to discover and examine Spirit in many ways and in many dimensions. These might include (but are not limited to):
- Encountering Spirit in nature,
- Studying about it in Scripture, literature, and science,
- Finding it in interactions with others,
- Going “within” in prayer, meditation, and contemplation,
- Reflecting on all of our various and varied experiences in life,
- Expressing it via artistic means or physical exertion,
- Practicing rituals and celebratory “worship”,
- Describing its meaning by journaling or writing a “spiritual autobiography,
- And so forth and so on ….
But learning about Spirit is only the start. Equally (if not more) important is living from Spirit. This is about maintaining a spiritual perspective in all aspects of our live’s….what we call “Holistic Living”. Big Love’s “Five Heartbeats” (Wisdom, Wholeness, Oneness, Co-Creation, and Nitty-Gritty) provide a framework for this.
Yes, Big Love is a spiritual movement. But it is more. It’s about the whole of life. Because, when we engage in spirituality we are dealing with the very fabric and stuff that life is made of. And that, friends, is a very substantial matter!
Be Spiritfully Substantial — live a life that matters!
Olivia & Steve
*Note: H. Emilie Cady, a 19th-century American physician and metaphysician explains this elegantly in her book Lessons In Truth — a book worth reading irrespective of your personal spiritual-religious disposition.
It’s Your Turn!
How do the ideas we’ve expressed about “Spirit” and “Spirituality” above fit (or not) with yours? What are your definitions for those terms? How do you experience Spirit and spirituality as part of everyday living? Do you see them as separate and distinct from “regular life” — or as an integral part of it?
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:
The idea of Spirit as “substance” which underlies all of creation is one that those with a “scientific” world view often have a difficult time accepting. One dissenting scientist, biologist Rupert Sheldrake has even suggested that life (and matter) is infused with “morphic resonance” — the idea that “things” have a consciousness which they “habitually” express (although that may change over time, depending on the experience and evolution of “related” things).
If you’d like to hear his views, checkout this this YouTube of a “TED Talk” he gave — that TED subsequently “banned” due to the heretical (to science) views that Sheldrake expressed in it. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TerTgDEgUE . This 18 minute talk is a mind-bender! Enjoy!
If there are topics you’d like us to address, please send us an email from our “Contact Us” web page.