Friday, September 4, 2009

Spiritual Connections

Another deep need is to connect to something beyond us. I am calling this the need for spiritual connection.

Here it gets tricky. Spirituality means different things to different people. I'm a believer in spiritual diversity and in supporting people who believe very different things. I believe that each person has to find their own spiritual path--and our paths can be very different from each other. I also believe that this means that even atheists, agnostics, and secular humanists have spiritual needs and a spiritual path--and that path is often right in front of them. Often they can't see it because the word 'spiritual' gets in the way.

Even more controversial is that I don't believe that belief in such things as God, heaven, reincarnation, the Goddess, magic, etc, are necessary to have a spiritual connection--although I am not denying the central importance of each of these things for different people. The truth is, I have trouble believing in any of these things (I sometimes refer to myself as 'belief challenged') and yet I can see a spiritual path for myself. My friend, ethicalsusan, who is affiliated with the Ethical Society Without Walls, dislikes being called a nonbeliever. She points out she believes in many things, including people, relationships, and the need for doing good in the world.

I once heard Stephen Levine speak. At one point someone asked him how he defined spirituality. His definition has stayed with me. He simply said, "...openness to the unknown." This is close to my way of approaching spirituality. This is what I've felt gazing at the night sky and realizing how small I was in a universe full of mystery.

I want to be clear that I am not challenging anyone's spiritual beliefs. Just because I don't believe in something doesn't mean that's what's true. I respect each person's beliefs. You could be right; I could be wrong. I am simply trying to find my own way the best that I can.

And that is what I am encouraging each of us to do. We all have needs for spiritual connection. I hope that we can support one another in finding our own path.

Since I believe in the need for spiritual diversity, an inclusive list of spiritual resources could fill pages and pages. I am going to briefly list my own sources of spiritual influence. I invite you to mention yours.

Sourcebooks: the Bible, the Tao Te Ching, The Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha, and Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

Writers that have influenced me over the years: Thomas Merton, Teilhard de Chardin, Joyce Rupp, Martin Buber, Idries Shah, Ram Dass, Stephen Levine, Pema Chödrön, Starhawk, T Thorn Coyle, and Luisah Teish

Quote of the Day: "...spirituality is an intrinsic dimension of human consciousness... the Greek concept of pneuma meant breath or spirit or soul, and spirit comes from the Latin root for 'to breathe'. From one perspective, we realize that we need food, shelter, and clothing; from another that some sort of relationship among people, animals, and the Earth is necessary; from another that we must determine our identity as creatures not only of our immediate habitat but of the world or the universe..." - Charlene Spretnak


ViolentLove said...

Beautiful post!

Your thoughts/wisdom are a wonderful refuge and resource thank you!

MoonRaven said...

Thank you! I appreciate your thoughtful response.

May we continue to learn from each other.

CrackerLilo said...

Ethicalsusan sounds a lot like my wife. L'Ailee will tell you she believes in any number of things, from art to love, but just not in any Gods.

My brother is an atheist and a farmer. He says that working the earth and growing things helps him to feel "connected to everything else." He has a huge respect for nature; unlike me, he feels that everything is too random to account for any Gods' prescence. (I feel the exact opposite way.)

MoonRaven said...

As I said in the beginning: "Spirituality means different things to different people." It sounds like you and L'Ailee are coming from different places but you've managed to build a relationship even so. That's wonderful. I think that respect for our differences is the key to spiritual diversity--appreciating that each of us has our own way of managing that spiritual connection.

Thank you so much for sharing about you and your wife and your brother. May you each find what you need in what you believe.

Anonymous said...

That is a great post, ethicalsusan hit exactly how I feel. Yet I am married to a spiritual 'chaser' - or at least married for the moment. Despite her 'spirituality' she finds no room, or acceptance, for my form of belief - I cannot simply cast my fortunes to a god or a mystical energy, but I can believe in believing in yourself and - once there, you can naturally and readily commune with others in a positive way. I am told however that due to my lack of belief in her 'spirituality' that we are incompatible - that needs to find someone to complete her who believes as she does. In my opinion, she does not understand theconcept, the meaning of spirituality. I am told I am closed minded for my lack of blind faith in a god - I see closed minded in her inability to accept my faith.

MoonRaven said...

If she needs to have someone who believes as she does, it sounds like the two of you may have some real problems. I would hope that not only she could accept you with your beliefs, but you could accept that she might believe differently. My friend, ethicalsusan, once gave a talk on 'Believing in People who Believe in God'. Not that she believes in 'God', but that she believes in people, no matter what they believe in. I think we need to start by believing in each other--that what people believe doesn't make them bad. Hopefully, we can judge each other by our actions, not our beliefs.

Good luck with your situation.