“Namaste” – May the light in me greet the light in you. This greeting is a spiritual greeting, taking us beyond what we see, beyond our own projections. There are many interpretations of Namaste, but this is my favourite.
What is spirituality? What do you think it is? Jot down your thoughts before continuing.
Did you find it hard to define? I personally see it as formless, having no boundaries and eternal. All we can do is point to the experience of it, notice what facilitates it being experienced and what makes it difficult to experience. It is from this place that I am sharing with you.
Most philosophies see four dimensions to humans; the physical, the emotional, the mental and the spiritual. Said in another way, the body, the heart, the mind and a life force; a dimension that brings us to a space where we experience life on a grander scale. This scale is larger and transcends the needs and concerns of our body, heart and mind. In this place we may experience bliss, huge wisdom, and the heartbeat of the universe.
Many years ago Joseph Campbell shared a story of two policemen who risked their lives to save someone from falling of a cliff. When asked why he thought they would do this, his response was: ‘the policemen in that moment said that they could not have lived another day with themselves if they had not done all they could to save the man.’ Campbell stressed that in the moment they realized that we are all one, we recognize the sameness. Strip away all the concerns that turn in our heads, what to have for lunch, what you should not have said to someone etc, and we realize that we are one shared energy, just represented in slightly different forms.
You may have experienced the waves of bliss in meditation or through singing, dancing, gratitude, being part of something wholesome and good. You may have experienced the waves while in awe of the beauty of nature. Central to these experiences is that, in those moments the desires and concerns of the body, mind and heart are ‘parked’ or not consuming our attention.
There are various pointers or methods, which intend to bring us to the spiritual experience. Chanting, dancing, praying and the Koan’s of Zen intending to bring us to the ‘end’ of our mind, are just some.
Many of these activities call us into the shared experience, oneness and the present. The present is where the heartbeat of life is. So when we are not present we are in the grip of our mind and heart, often in the form of worry, concerns, guilt, shame powerlessness, pointlessness and fear of exclusion, or just being busy doing or being caught in emotions or thoughts. Acceptance, non-judging and curiosity all ‘mute’ the grasping, striving and judging tendencies of the mind so that we can experience the Present.
Praying is another pointer, where Christ or another ‘bigger than us’ representation becomes an anchor point for our spiritual experience. As we submit to God, we place the needs and desires of our own body, heart and mind on hold in order that we experience the spirit within as it dances in the great space of spirit.
We can also cultivate compassion, gratitude and a peaceful and stable mind, as these ‘attitudes’ bring us to the doorway of the spiritual. You can experience this by simply placing your hands in the praying position on your chest, bow your head and say: ‘thank you’.
What did you notice? I have done it many times and experience that the concern for self diminishes, humility sets in and at the same time a sense of vastness emerges.
The experience of the spiritual or the ‘shared common life force’ gives us access to a new and greater perspective. From this place we step into the perspective of being of service, of making the world a better place, of having a concern for all life and the wellbeing of those in pain.
The experience of oneness, of the spiritual dimension within us is what precedes courage and action of service. From this place consciously destroying the environment or hurting another human becomes impossible. We understand that what we do to the earth, we do to ourselves.
The ongoing practice of mindfulness where we get to know the body, the heart and the mind and also where we learn to not have these elements shout so loud in our system, is a great practice for accessing the spiritual being within. It is important to be aware that we are so very vulnerable to our survival drives that they can so easily highjack the more delicate experience of our spirit.
So, what is your experience of this? I would love to hear from you.