Some Indicators of Genuine Spirituality

These days, there is a lot of talk in the media about lies, falsehoods, sham investigations, fake news and phony Christianity. It’s almost as if the nation is undergoing a national dialogue to determine what is true and not true—what is integral to being an American. Organized religion itself is being challenged because of hypocrisy or a failure in moral leadership. More and more people are seeing a lack of spirituality in Christianity, often referring to an adage that religion is about authority and spirituality is about integrity. Perhaps in organized religion people see a lot of emphasis put on following rules or scripture but a lot less on practices that lead to a life of integrity. Again, there seems to a cry for something genuine, something true; not just in the faith and teachings but also in the living out of those faiths and beliefs. There is a call for genuine spirituality that begs the question, “What is genuine spirituality?” Spirituality, like good food, certainly has its indicators. If spirituality is about integrity, let’s look at the word integrity.

The word integrity is etymologically related to the word integration and refers to the quality of wholeness. (See https://www.quora.com/Are-the-words-integral-and-integrity-related.) The key to understanding integrity and its role in spirituality is the idea of integration.

Indeed, one of the indicators of genuine spirituality is the ability to integrate the profound negatives of life such as suffering, evil and ignorance with the deepest positives of life such as joy, love and enlightenment. This ability comes from intimately knowing through personal experience the highs and lows of life. Hence, another old adage: “Religion is for those who believe in heaven and hell; spirituality is for those that have been there.”

Another indicator of genuine spirituality is the ability to tell one’s whole story; the good and the bad–and own it without glossing over the bad or bragging about the good. The telling of the story frees the storyteller from the grips of the negative of that story and challenges that person to put suffering into some sort of meaningful context. In other words, telling one’s story integrates the whole of his or her experience, making the storyteller whole.

In spirituality, this integration literally takes in the whole of the person: body, mind and spirit. A spiritual person is deeply tuned into the messages of his or her body, emotions and soul. Likewise, the spiritual person is empathetic and tuned into these kinds of messages from other people, nature and the spiritual world. If you want to be spiritual, be integrated, be integral and you will not lack integrity.

Advertisements

Dreamwork: Good for Self-Integration & Self-Transcendence

Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's dreams.

Go Within for Answers

John Welwood in his well-informed book Toward a Psychology of Awakening, notes that full human potential is realized when there is a combination of self-integration and self-transcendence.  Psychology has concerned itself with the former and spirituality with the latter. They are considered to be two entirely different areas of growth that are traditionally developed with different practice approaches.  For example, exposure therapy may be used in psychology to overcome fear and meditation is used in spiritual practice to move beyond the limitations of the waking mind.

On reading Welwood’s book, I am thinking that dreamwork may be a methodology which can be applied to both the integration of the self and the transcendence of self, even though these are two different areas for growth.  Dreamwork can be used to deal with psychological issues as well as spiritual ones, making it a particularly potent practice.  It’s not for nothing that Freud called dreams the Royal Road to the Unconscious.  Dreams can also access different energies and levels of consciousness both within each of us and also in the wider energy matrix that interconnects us all.

Dreamwork as a Methodology for Self-Integration

Dreamwork is well known for acquainting the dreamer with various hidden aspects of him or herself.  Just the mere dreamwork practice of considering all things in the dream to be representative of one’s own various energies allows the dreamer to notice and acknowledge things and behaviors previously unaware to the dreamer.  These newly discovered energies, once acknowledged, can be harnessed for a deeper understanding of life’s problems and offer more tools for living life.

Dreamwork as a Methodology for Self-Transcendence

A dream may be given or requested which can provide guidance or a solution, or offer a far greater vision that allows one to rise above the limitations of a binding mindset or a complicated situation.  The power of the dream provides new insights and even healing that change the game entirely.  A combination of both insight and healing totally changes one’s understanding of the body, psyche and spirit.   Also in dreamtime, one may encounter spiritual guides which lead a person on a journey of spiritual growth and deeper awareness.    One may actually develop a “working relationship” with these guides that can later reoccur during meditation or dreamtime.

The power of dreams is truly amazing but dreamwork is work requiring courage and consistency.  It is a practice that if done faithfully and diligently can help one to both self-integrate and self-transcend. Dreams can indeed answer many kinds of questions, spiritually and psychologically, to grow more fully human.