“Religion is a defense to a true religious experience,” said Joseph Campbell. The spiritual journey is different than following a fixed dogma or doing ritual worship once or twice a week. Very often people use church attendance or participation in organized religions and spiritual retreats as ways to socialize, meet new mates and find entertainment. A “true religious experience” reaches deep into the spiritual heart. It calls us to commit to our Self and walk a path of self-awareness, contemplation, and practice basic human values like love, truth and non-violence. Organized religion make take us to the door, but most of us venture into the portals of true religious and spiritual experience through unique inner openings that arrive only through turning within for answers.
When you make a commitment to life as a spiritual journey, some things will begin to happen.
- It will give you a deeper sense of meaning and purpose.
- You may gain some answers your questions about the cosmos.
- It could make you a gentler and kinder human being.
- It will give you a sense of responsibility and an extended sense of family and interconnectedness to the world (but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll go around hugging and kissing strangers).
- It will help you to weather life’s storms.
- It will help you to resolve conflicts and live more peacefully.
- It will help you to live a simpler, happier life.
Some people have unreasonable expectations about the spiritual journey. Here’s what not to expect:
- To have spiritual powers like mind reading, seeing auras or levitating.
- To have a guarantee that you will no longer suffer pain, failure or set backs.
- Don’t expect physical immortality. Every body dies. Spiritual practice anchors you in awareness that transcends your identity with the body.
- To be wealthy. This is not the purpose of spiritual practice. But to be wealthy in character, peace, love — these things you can count on if you walk your spiritual path.
- To get everything you want. Walking a spiritual path is not something one does in order to acquire more things or to get a mate. It’s not visualizing what you want (like a big house or a certain car) instead it’s eliminating ego-based desires and this means reducing desires for more things. On the path, the realization often comes that those desired things were not necessary after all.
What is spiritual practice?
It means following your inner guidance, your conscience in your daily life. It means doing your duty, doing it well and fulfilling the obligations of your role as spouse, employee, mother, brother. It is more about duties and responsibility we have to others rather than rights or things we think are due to us. Committing to life as a spiritual journey can be the most rewarding way to live and expand in awareness. With deep contemplation consider your relationship to religion and spirituality and how you relate to both.
Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life. A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the globe and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. She has spent over fifteen years practicing meditation, working with dreams and doing spiritual practices. Visit her online at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.