Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Spiritual Health

This is a big topic, and in fact it's ridiculous to try to address it in a blog post. Good lord!

I won't pretend this is going to be complete in any way, just a few words about the value of spiritual health. Maybe the first thing I should do is define what I mean by the phrase. People I perceive to be spiritually healthy have taken time to consider the big questions of life, i.e. why are we here? what happens before and after this lifetime? what is the point of it all? and so forth. They engage with these questions willingly. They read, have conversations, sit in stillness and gather with others to explore their relationship to the mysteries. The particulars of what spiritually healthy people believe, whether they are rule-bound and church centered or more free-form, are not the foundation of spiritual health. It's the relationship each individual has with their belief system that matters. There are spiritually healthy atheists out there. I know several.

Those who never wonder what they're doing here, who never question the mystery of birth and death in any way are not, in my opinion, spiritually healthy. Engaging with the big questions cultivates depth, courage, wisdom and an ability to look at the big picture. Without these qualities, life can be rather two dimensional. Those who don't wonder are often fearful and depressed or conversely, stressed out. When something difficult happens in their lives, it's much harder for them to manage these situations. It's not good.

Of course asking the big questions, allowing oneself to wonder about the great mysteries, studying any spiritual path is not exactly a smooth ride for anyone. The life of the spirit is tumultuous, crazy making, also sometimes ecstatic. In order to cultivate depth, courage, wisdom and perspective, we must grapple. We must. Crises of faith are part of the process, experiences that force us to re-examine our values and perspective. It's not easy, but well worth the effort.

Some folks get lost in their beliefs. These are the people who become fanatics. Fundamentalists of all kinds, because of the rigidity of their paths, tend to develop an overly judgmental opinion of anyone who is not exactly in alignment with their beliefs. These people can become isolated, paranoid or angry. None of that is healthy.

There is no recipe for spiritual health, other than the Tao of Goldilocks, i.e. balance. Too much divine energy makes people crazy, but not enough makes us drab and lifeless. It's tricky, but we're clever beings, capable of so much. Choosing to engage with faith strengthens the heart, mind, and gut.

We are a curious species. How noble that we try so hard to understand the invisible realities of this existence! We are truly adorable. Shalom.


Angela said...

True, all of it. I cannot imagine a life in which these questions do not come up. They are surely part of mine.
Sometimes I think I am close to an answer. And then again, not.

X said...

I love the phrase "sit in stillness."
When one sits in stillness whether while driving past the landscape of life, while praying the darkness to abate, on one's knees gardening while dawn peaks over a neighbors fence, or contemplating the heart-shaped foam in our coffee, it makes us small and big, mortal and divine, humble and aspiring. Thank you for the words that trigger this inner reflection.

Jo said...

Thank you for this gentle explanation of spiritual health.

It's all part of living with intent and being aware of everything and all the possibilities contained therein, right?

If we fail to examine the unseen parts of this existence, we miss the largest part of it all.