[In Part One of our imaginary conversation began with a discussion regarding how our consciousness and world views are evolving….]
Okay, so you’re saying everything is evolving, I’ll go with that for the moment. But what’s that got to do with spiritual practices?
Simply stated, spiritual practices are a tool that furthers one aspect of your inner growth. It’s easy to see how as we study a subject such as calculus or physics we have an inner intellectual growth in that subject matter. We grow or evolve in our knowledge. This inner growth is coupled with its outer expression in our lives. As we understand calculus better in our minds, the better we can perform calculus calculations out in the world. Similarly, as we learn a foreign language, we have growth within our inner understanding of the language and our outer expression of it. Spiritual practices work the same way. As we practice, something grows within us and there grows a correlate in our outer expression.
What you mean by spiritual practices? Lets be clear here.
There are a lot of things that we could call a spiritual practice. These include prayer, meditation, journaling, sitting in nature, and a whole lot more. Anything that directs our attention into an awareness of and a relationship with some divine intelligence… no matter what name we give it such as God, Spirit, or whatever… could be considered a spiritual practice.
Wait a minute… I can write in a journal, sit in nature or even meditate… and it doesn’t have anything to do with God.
Yes, you’re right. A lot of it depends upon your worldview and your intention. If your worldview says there is no God, that everything is material and physical and so forth, then you would look at journaling as simply a means of writing down “your thoughts.” You would see sitting in nature is simply a time to relax your physical body and mind. Meditation would simply be a form of relaxation which has been scientifically shown to reduce stress. If you hold a traditional worldview where you see God as an external being, then you would see these spiritual processes as a means for you to communicate outwardly “towards” God, to develop your relationship with Jesus or something similar. If you hold a postmodern worldview with a sense that God or Spirit is the power and intelligence that is embedded in everything, then the spiritual practices would be a means for you to develop an experience of communing with that power. Hence, how you look at life will determine how you look at these practices.
Well, if I don’t believe there’s a God or Spirit, then I really don’t see a reason to have a spiritual practice. Why should I practice something to seek to have an experience with something I don’t believe in?
Good question. If you don’t believe in God or Spirit, and don’t feel any call to have a spiritual practice, then don’t. I’m not trying to convince you to do something that’s not in alignment with what you believe. You might consider the health advantages for certain practices such as yoga or meditation. If your rational mind tells you they may be helpful, then go for it. However, I am offering to your rational mind the possibility that there is a stage of development beyond seeing the world in a purely materialistic way… that there is a path where your consciousness and my consciousness is evolving further. Spiritual practices are a means to develop your consciousness along that path. If you are open to it, consider it.
So how does developing a relationship with a divine intelligence serve my evolution?
[In Part 3….this question and the conclusion of the dialogue as we consider spiritual practices and personal and planetary evolution….]
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!