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What is Spirituality?

No comments · Posted by John Wilson

The term "spirituality" is thrown around casually these days, but what is it?  It depends on who you ask. If you ask me, spirituality relates to our very nature as human beings. We live and move in the context of "Spirit." In some religious circles, spirituality means conforming to a particular religious path, especially one that dictates the follower's behavior, faith and practice. This definition seems too narrow when one considers the vast number of such paths. Spirituality can not be adequately limited to any one of those paths.

Therefore a broader definition is needed: Spirituality is simply a greater awareness of Spirit. "Spirit," then, requires its own definition. What is Spirit? To me, Spirit is ultimate Reality; the context of Life, the essence of Love, and as Paul Tillich (Theologian) put it, the "Ground of Being." People of various religious persuasions interpret this as "God," "Tao," Brahman," etc. It is That which "Is," the explanation for our very existence. I am, you are, we are, and everything else is. All of us us exist in "Spirit."

Knowing this, how do we become more spiritual? We do not actually become more spiritual; we become more aware of the Spirit that we are. Every path that facilitates our awareness is a "spiritual path." There are religions, beliefs, and practices that do the exact opposite. Some traditions, doctrines and dogmas actually cloud our awareness or understanding of our very nature. They distract us with superficial issues and meaningless rituals that become religious trappings, rather than ways of enlightenment.

Who knows best which spiritual path an individual can take to further spiritual understanding? You do! You are the one who can best guide your own course of spiritual unfolding. In fact, you have been doing it all along. There is no minister, priest, scripture, or temple that knows better than you the path you should take. You may choose one, more than one, or many of them. The bottom line is that you are the final authority in spiritual matters. You "know" what is right for you. The Truth does not change when we change our path or point of view. The only thing that changes is our understanding.

That understanding is"Spirituality." 



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Why Does Anything Exist?

No comments · Posted by John Wilson

Philosophers throughout the ages have pondered this question. "Why does anything exist?" The most common answer to the question has been theological, "God" or "gods." In other words, the usual response is that someone or something outside of creation created it, a creator, a "first cause." However, this does not really answer the riddle because it begs the question, "Who or what created God?" Like mirrors facing each other, the answer reflects the question and repeats itself over and over again, infinitely. The process is like a dog chasing its tail and we, too, find ourselves always running after the answer, but never reaching it.

Asking "Why does anything exist" implies that there is a cause, reason or purpose (a "why?") that lies outside of what is (anything/everything that exists). It argues that this cause, reason or purpose exists beyond or outside of existence. Is this possible? If simple logic and common sense apply, then the answer is no. A does not equal B; nothing exists outside of existence; "exist" is a sub-set of "existence." Even "nothing" exists, because nothing is something (another philosophical discussion for another time). Nothing that already exists can be its own cause, purpose, or reason.

The challenge is that asking "why?" or seeking a first cause assumes that existence is based on the principle of Cause and Effect. This assumption insists that every effect has a cause and there must be an ultimate, or first cause (such as God or the gods). However, this theory contradicts itself on its face. If every effect (anything) has a cause, then even the "first cause" is an effect (exists) and requires a cause. There can be no cause that is not also an effect of some other cause. There can be no answer to "Why does anything exist?" because it assumes the Cause and Effect principle.

The solution to the dilemma is not in finding the answer to the question, but in asking the right question to begin with. Rather than ask "Why?" one can ask "How?" Asking "How does anything exist?" makes much more sense. How does one travel to New York City? One can walk, take a train, ride a bus, fly in a plane, drive a car or a combination of these - one engages in the process of travel. Likewise, anything (everything) that exists arrives through a similar process. Innumerable variables contribute to the existence of every "thing" that is. Each "thing" is related to every other "thing" past, present and future. Thus, the basic assumption about existence is likely Relationship, rather than cause and effect

Relationship means that everything exists as a process, rather than as an "effect." The person that is "me" is not the same today as it was yesterday, or even a minute ago. Life is in flux, constantly changing, so there is no moment that can be considered an effect and therefore no entity that can be considered a cause. I am "me," relative to 3-4 Billion other people, millions of years of change, countless interactions and infinite possibilities. I am involved in a creative process that is ever ongoing and at the same time, here and now. I am intimately related to a universal "Divine Order," "Christ Consciousness," "God" or "How" of existence. I can not be apart from it!

Therefore I am "perfect" and "whole" just the way I am. There is nothing to get, nothing lacking, and no further perfection to attain. I am indeed on a journey, which is its own destination. As Virginia Satir profoundly wrote, "I am me and I am okay!" How does anything exist? Everything exists in Relation to everything else. Relax - no more tail-chasing!



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Divine Order

No comments · Posted by John Wilson

At times, life seems confusing and people share conflicting views about God, or the Divine. One one hand, people credit an anthropomorphic (in the image of man) God for intervening in human affairs. God is invoked to change the course of history so that a particular sports team wins, rain falls when needed, one army is victorious over another or key personal events "happen" at the appropriate time. On the other hand, God is seldom blamed when a tsunami engulfs Indonesia, a hurricane slams New Orleans or an earthquake rocks Haiti. God is seen as not involved in these events. Which is it - involved or not?

It all depends on one's definition of God. If God is perceived as a supreme being, a super-person or a benevolent dictator, then God is usually asked to intervene, often after-the-fact, to make lemonade out of lemons. However, where was God before the disease was contracted, before the child was run over and killed or before the house was burned to the ground? Perhaps God was actually a distant creator with little or no involvement, the universal watchmaker who designed the watch, wound it up and let it tick. Is God involved or not? With this either/or scenario, one can not have one's cake and eat it too.

However, what if God is neither Supreme Being or the First Cause/Creator? Perhaps God is not a do-er at all. Alternatively, God can be defined as Spirit ( "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth" - John 4:24 NIV). Spirit (not "a spirit") is defined as the "vital principle" or "animating force" within living beings or incorporeal "consciousness" (The Free Dictionary: In other words, God may not be so much a being or creator as the very principle, force and consciousness within which being and creation occur.

God is likely the context of all the content of existence. God is probably the Formless from which form appears. God is more likely the Infinite of which the finite expresses. Moreover, God is most likely the All. The context (God) contains the content (Universe) and the two are one. From this perspective, God may a fan of both competing teams, may "bring" both rain and drought, might belong to both arimes and could "happen" both the blessed events and the tragedies. It seems somewhat useless to define God in terms of involved or not involved; Defining God as the Principle of Divine Order seems more useful. 

How can such a principle be described? I can imagine characteristics like these:

  1. Everything that exists is self affirming. Being implies "purpose."
  2. Everything relates to every other thing. All things interact; "no man is an island."
  3. Every event depends on, is subject to, countless other events.
  4. Life is unfolding as it should (Desiderada)


In other words, all is in Divine Order. There is no apparent super-person or authoritarian to credit or blame in life. It all just "is." My dad had a saying that seems to sum it all up. In the event of something painful or difficult to understand, he would say, "that's just one of those things." I think my dad may have been wiser than I gave him credit for.

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Yin & Yang

No comments · Posted by John Wilson

For as long as I can remember, I have been attracted to the Yin and Yang symbol, the Taijitu (literally "diagram of the supreme ultimate") diagram [Wiki]. To me, it expresses the Truth, Reality and Mystery of existence, an ultimate Unity from which the duality of life emerges. "The unity is said to be the mystery; Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders." (Tao Te Ching, Chapter 1, Derek Lin Translation)

Yin and Yang are apparent opposites that seem to indicate an either/or dimension to life. However, rather than conflict, the two aspects actually seem to support each other. Indeed, neither could exist without the other: "Thus being and non-being produce each other; Difficult and easy bring about each other; Long and short reveal each other; High and low support each other . . ." (Tao Te Ching, Chapter 2, Lin)

Human beings  live in a dualistic world. Our minds operate in terms of either/or, this/that, is/is not, etc. We distinguish black vs. white, good vs. evil, night vs. day (and on and on). Truly, though, nothing is likely that sharply defined. In addition to the seemingly opposite concepts there are continuums of in-betweens. We know of various shades of gray colors, different levels of goodness and a progression from night to dawn to day to dusk. Life does not really consist of either/or dichotomies.

If not "one or the other," then what is the nature of our everyday reality? It seems enough like a clash of opposites. What else could it be? Yin and Yang demonstrate that life happens through relationship and interaction. Life is relative; every "thing" relates to every other "thing." It is said that the beating of a butterfly's wing is felt by the farthest star. That certainly seems to be the way it is. Colors are produced when a single beam of white light interacts with a prism. Perception occurs when something in the world stimulates sensory receivers in an observor.

One law of Physics says that energy is transformed in a reaction, but neither gained nor lost. That seems like an accurate description of Reality. "Gain/loss" could be considered opposites, but "transformed" suggests relationship and interaction. This may be the essential message of Yin and Yang. Life expresses as this and that, good and evil, black and white and everything in between! Yin and Yang invite us to embrace all of life, to avoid the temptation of polarities and to acknowledge the Unity behind it all.

In the Taijitu symbol, Yin and Yang actually define each other.They each also blend themselves into the other and they each contain a portion of the other. They speak to us of harmony, cooperation, support and creativity. Yin and Yang are not exact opposites. Each is a changing facet of Life living in a dynamic relationship with another. It takes no further contemplation to realize that Yin and Yang also symbolize you and me!

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