Monday, November 4, 2013

Spiritual Growth: the Spiritual Challenge of Modern Times

To grow spiritually in a world defined by power, money, and influence is a
Herculean task. Modern conveniences such as electronic equipments, gadgets,
and tools as well as entertainment through television, magazines, and the web
have predisposed us to confine our attention mostly to physical needs and wants.
As a result, our concepts of self-worth and self-meaning are muddled. How can
we strike a balance between the material and spiritual aspects of our lives?
To grow spiritually is to look inward.
Introspection goes beyond recalling the things that happened in a day, week, or
month. You need to look closely and reflect on your thoughts, feelings, beliefs,
and motivations. Periodically examining your experiences, the decisions you
make, the relationships you have, and the things you engage in provide useful
insights on your life goals, on the good traits you must sustain and the bad traits
you have to discard. Moreover, it gives you clues on how to act, react, and
conduct yourself in the midst of any situation. Like any skill, introspection can be
learned; all it takes is the courage and willingness to seek the truths that lie within
you. Here are some pointers when you introspect: be objective, be forgiving of
yourself, and focus on your areas for improvement.
To grow spiritually is to develop your potentials.
Religion and science have differing views on matters of the human spirit. Religion
views people as spiritual beings temporarily living on Earth, while science views
the spirit as just one dimension of an individual. Mastery of the self is a recurring
theme in both Christian (Western) and Islamic (Eastern) teachings. The needs of
the body are recognized but placed under the needs of the spirit. Beliefs, values,
morality, rules, experiences, and good works provide the blueprint to ensure the
growth of the spiritual being. In Psychology, realizing one.s full potential is to selfactualize.
Maslow identified several human needs: physiological, security,
belongingness, esteem, cognitive, aesthetic, self-actualization, and selftranscendence.
James earlier categorized these needs into three: material,
emotional, and spiritual. When you have satisfied the basic physiological and
emotional needs, spiritual or existential needs come next. Achieving each need
leads to the total development of the individual. Perhaps the difference between
these two religions and psychology is the end of self-development: Christianity
and Islam see that self-development is a means toward serving God, while
psychology view that self-development is an end by itself.
To grow spiritually is to search for meaning.
Religions that believe in the existence of God such as Christianism, Judaism,
and Islam suppose that the purpose of the human life is to serve the Creator of
all things. Several theories in psychology propose that we ultimately give
meaning to our lives. Whether we believe that life.s meaning is pre-determined or
self-directed, to grow in spirit is to realize that we do not merely exist. We do not
know the meaning of our lives at birth; but we gain knowledge and wisdom from
our interactions with people and from our actions and reactions to the situations
we are in. As we discover this meaning, there are certain beliefs and values that
we reject and affirm. Our lives have purpose. This purpose puts all our physical,
emotional, and intellectual potentials into use; sustains us during trying times;
and gives us something to look forward to---a goal to achieve, a destination to
reach. A person without purpose or meaning is like a drifting ship at sea.
To grow spiritually is to recognize interconnections.
Religions stress the concept of our relatedness to all creation, live and inanimate.
Thus we call other people ¡°brothers and sisters¡± even if there are no direct blood
relations. Moreover, deity-centered religions such as Christianity and Islam speak
of the relationship between humans and a higher being. On the other hand,
science expounds on our link to other living things through the evolution theory.
This relatedness is clearly seen in the concept of ecology, the interaction
between living and non-living things. In psychology, connectedness is a
characteristic of self-transcendence, the highest human need according to
Maslow. Recognizing your connection to all things makes you more humble and
respectful of people, animals, plants, and things in nature. It makes you
appreciate everything around you. It moves you to go beyond your comfort zone
and reach out to other people, and become stewards of all other things around
Growth is a process thus to grow in spirit is a day-to-day encounter. We win
some, we lose some, but the important thing is that we learn, and from this
knowledge, further spiritual growth is made possible.