Thursday, October 1, 2009

Will Spirituality Ever Get Serious?

Times are tough: people want to feel better, and there's nothing wrong with that. But each of us individually -- teachers and students, skeptics and true-believers -- has the opportunity to take responsibility for the care of our own soul.

via Huffington Post, by Jay Michaelson

Will American spirituality get serious? Those of us who do regular spiritual practice -- whether it's meditating every day or giving our time to the less fortunate, spending focused time with our kids or going to church each week -- have long been vilified by the cynical press as narcissists, flakes, or worse. In general, this is a cliché born out of fear and ignorance. But let's admit that the insult has some truth to it -- and will take work to rise above.

Let's start with two hard truths. The first is that spirituality makes claims to transformation and transcendence, but is often just a balm. Now, all of us who do a spiritual practice have experienced transformation. In small ways, this happens all the time. Before yoga, you feel angry, tense, and egocentric; after yoga, at least for a little while, you feel open, loving, and generous. In larger ways, it happens once in a while. A particularly inspiring sermon, a deep insight gained on an extended retreat, an ecstasy experienced at a place like Burning Man -- these kinds of things can meaningfully, and more or less permanently, change one's life. What they all have in common is transformation: a growth beyond one's previous limits.

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