Secular Spirituality



I took a workshop course several weeks ago on spirituality.  Before the instructor began his agenda, he went around the room asking each student four questions:  

1.  What was your spiritual upbringing?
2.  What is your spirituality now?
3.  What is your view of humanity, mankind, human nature, etc.?
4.  What do you want from this time together?

No two answers were the same:  “I’m an atheist ... I’m a secular humanist ... I don’t believe in your religion... I am finally free of the guilt imposed on me by religion ... I believe in the universe... I’m a Buddhist, etc.”  Arguments ensued from the get-go as degrading comments were carelessly dropped and know-it-all attitudes about the unknown were prevalent.  There was a strong tension  that never let up under which I’m certain was a subliminal fear because at the core of these questions lies each person’s foundation.  The instructor might just as well have asked:  “What are you standing on?”  

Spirituality is at the very heart of our being.  It is defined as “the inner quality or nature of a person.”  Based on the responses in our class that weekend, you would think we all came from different planets with different natures.  No one could seem to agree -- not even to disagree and few could be silent and humble.  If spirituality is the inner quality or nature of a person, I would like to think that at least one common denominator would be love.  From there we could begin to see our connectedness, and we could begin to converse as the loving, spiritual beings we claim to be.  

Beyond all the chaos and meanness, what really saddened me was the lack of awe and respect for the mystery that enshrouds all aspects of life, death, and spirit.  Instead there is a blatant pride and confidence in self and science, and the results of that are being felt everywhere as they were in our small classroom ... tension, anxiety, fear, and anger.  Sure, we’ve got that kind of spirituality down pretty good.  It’s a spirituality of the mind -- not the heart.  It’s a spirituality that believes that all in the heavens and on Earth can be explained only by man and science.  And I say it’s way too simple -- simple-minded.

It is said that “prayer is the ascent of the mind towards God.”  That requires a humility -- admitting that there are things that we do not and cannot know.  With that simple admission infinite possibilities open.  It’s exciting, inspiring, life-giving, and hope-filled. My experience tells me that we receive much more by humbling ourselves than by limiting our minds to our own small thoughts.  It’s okay to say “I don’t know.”  It’s a sign of courage to fall down and cry out.  It’s a grace to look up in wonder, reverence, and awe.  And it all begins with a heart full of love and a mind that ascends out of itself and the theories of a natural world.  When my spirit sings, it’s not about secular humanism, atheism, or science.  My spirit soars way beyond that, and it desires ever more.




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