The Spirituality of Everyday Life: Transforming ourselves and spiritualizing everyday life!
By Dr Robert Calkin
http://www.bobcalkin.co.nz When we talk about spirituality of everyday life we are talking about bringing a special sense to everything we do. It means approaching life with a sense of awe and wonder and is associated with feelings of care and concern for others, for the Earth and all living forms. It also means having a sense of gratitude, being thankful and having a feeling of being blessed by an energy or power greater than ourselves. Engagement with everyday life means life in the family, at work, when socializing, being involved in recreation, sports, doing the shopping or indeed in anything we do whether we are dealing with other people or not. It also means engagement with the mystery of the sacred energy of the universe of which we are a part, without the religious baggage of the past. My motive for raising these issues is a concern for the state of the world. We face an economic and ecological meltdown, serious social division and widespread psychological alienation. The problems are well known and the experience of more than a century to establish a more humane society through conventional political and religious institutions has not occurred suggesting that new ways must be found to deal with these challenges and bring about a happier world. There is a lot of interest in various forms of spirituality, but also a widespread feeling that traditional religions have lost relevance. I don’t necessarily share this view, and I would want to bring traditional believers, as well as those who yearn for a spiritual renewal for their lives outside of traditional religious practices, along with me. There is also widespread belief that a serious engagement with spiritual issues is a critical in bringing about lasting change at the collective level, as well as creating the conditions for deep fulfillment. It seems to me that a twenty first century spirituality of everyday life involves expanding our consciousness around six themes. I call these the six themes of consciousness: What is the true nature of the self and reality generally; How do we define our needs; How do we satisfy those needs; How do we define a successful life and what motivates us in that life; What is the span of our care and concern for others, for the Earth and for other living forms; How do we define our social and civic commitments?
One of the most important aspects of a spirituality of everyday life involves moving from a sense of self as a separate isolated individual defined in terms of I, me and mine to a realization that each of us, in the words of Eckhart Tolle, does not have a life, but that we are life. In this sense life has us we are life’s instrument or servant. I
call this the universal self. Developing a universal self is a pre-eminent spiritual quest. A limited sense of self cuts us off from the universe and we tend to experience our self in this limited way, as all that we are and all that we have. We resist every experience that threatens this sense of self and seek nice experiences and avoid unpleasant ones. The field of development psychology teaches us that the six themes of consciousness can be defined by people at ever increasing levels of complexity and they can undergo development and growth throughout the whole of life. For many, the themes of consciousness plateau and remain fixed at that level throughout life. For others, their lives are an ever increasing spiral of growth and development. This is a natural process and everyone has the potential to expand their spiritual of awareness and consciousness. The spiritual challenge that we face is being called to find a way of expanding our consciousness and awareness around the six themes, (particularly the development of a universal sense of self) and to find ways of transforming these themes into an engagement with everyday life. To do this we need to develop the capacities of what I call the seven paths of spirituality of everyday life. The first path involves qualities needed to live fully aware moment by moment so that we are able to adjust our actions in real time as events unfold. This is about what Eckhart Tolle calls living in the NOW. Living in the NOW involves engaging with everyday life moment by moment as life unfolds and in being able to monitor our actions so as to be able to adjust what we are doing as events unfold. The second path involves the capacity to treat everything that arises as an opportunity to learn and make the most of every moment. This path is about a transformation from a mindset of unilateral control to one of using each moment of everyday life as an opportunity for infinite possibilities. This path opens people up to the realization that the life that they are has the potential for enormous growth around the six themes of consciousness. Developing the capacities to walk these two paths contain useful guides about how we can develop a universal self where we become a servant of life. The third path involves the capacity of learning how to take full responsibility for the choices we make. This is the secret to living as a full participant in the game of life rather than as a victim of circumstances. The fourth path involves the potential of gaining mastery of our emotions so that they become an ally in helping us deal effectively with the fortunes of life. All emotions even emotions like anger and fear have their place in our lives. The secret here is to use the energy of the full range of emotions as a positive influence rather than being a prisoner and at the mercy of our feelings. The fifth path involves the capacity to learn how to turn a crucial conversation where opinions differ, where the stakes are high and where emotions run hot into a positive outcome. This means being able to tell your truth without offending others, even when you disagree with them. Most people when confronted by a crucial conversation
become aggressive or withdraw rather than buy a fight. Learning about this path has an important part to play in helping us recognize unconscious attachments relating to the self and has the potential to create an opportunity for a major lift in consciousness. The sixth path involves the capacity to learn how to turn disagreement into the best decision even if it means giving up a cherished position when a better argument is presented. This is about skilful negotiation where the best decision is the goal rather than winning an argument to save face. This path is about how to participate in finding common interests in order to make the best decisions. The seventh path involves the capacity to make promises and honor those promises. Learning to walk this path ensures that things get done efficiently and effectively and good relationships are preserved. The fifth through to the seventh paths are about the practical ways of engaging in a spirituality of everyday life through our interpersonal relationships. These relationships are a critical area of living a spirituality of everyday life. The achievement of the “Good Society” and the creation of the conditions for happy and fulfilled lives will involve massive transformations and change as we repair the Earth’s ecology, create a new economic order, redress the social divisions and heal the widespread psychological alienation. A necessary step in this process is for a significant number of people, sufficient to influence the course of events, to develop a spirituality of everyday life. This involves building a worldwide social movement whose aim is the spiritualization of everyday life. If you seek a spiritual basis to your life and feel that becoming part of movement dedicated to the spiritualization of everyday life would fit in with your values and aspirations then visit http://www.bobcalkin.co.nz and join us in setting about playing a part in the transformation of ourselves and our world.