experience. Humans spend a lot of time talking about things that
are abstract and theoretical, all of which makes for interesting
conversation, but isn't what's really important who we are and what we
Yesterday I asked you to think about what kind of people we want to be and what we want to accomplish with our time here. It's about being something concrete and doing something measurable. What it's NOT about is arguing about dogma. Religion focuses on dogma, while our daily spiritual experiences are what define us and nourish us. That is part of nature.
Dr. Timothy Conway created a webpage called "Criteria for Authentic Spiritual Realization." On the website, he asked the question of whether or not there is a "shared wisdom of deep spirituality" that all religious or spiritual traditions have in common. He discovered that, after extensive research and interviews with contemporary spiritual leaders, that there do seem to be clear-cut and quite similar criteria or spiritual goals which appear to unite all spiritual traditions. He stated, "I list these shared criteria for spiritual realization below, so that the reader may better understand that a shared human spirituality does underlie the bewildering diversity of religious thought and practice."
That is encouraging to me, in a world where religious differences seem to divide people so seriously. I'd like to list the principles he discovered for your consideration. Now remember, these were the underlying principles which the different traditions have at their core and would like to strive for. That doesn't mean everyone in every tradition necessarily meets all these goals. But it's what they'd like to strive for:
*** Freedom from the egocentric, petty sense of “me.” Absence of any pride, narcissism, or obsession with the bodymind personality. Transparent humility and “purity of heart.”
*** Profound peace and deeply relaxed openness. Freedom from restlessness, instability, discontent, and neurotic tensions.
*** Tremendous love for God (or Goddess), Spirit, Buddhata, Brahman, or Tao. For the most mature mystics, God or the Absolute is realized in a balanced way as both transcendent and immanent; hence, God is, paradoxically, beyond all forms and yet also the True Nature or One Essence/Substance underlying the phenomenal world and the true Self subsuming all selves. Accordingly, some sages, speaking from this utterly non-dual state, will say: “When duality is outgrown, then there is no lover and no Beloved, just Divine Love.”
*** A fairly consistent, unbroken awareness of Spirit (God, Buddha-nature, Reality), with few lapses into distraction or nonlucid “unconsciousness.”
*** Extraordinary love, empathy and compassion for one’s fellow beings, which manifests in a spontaneous spirit of serving them or being useful to them on their bodily, emotional and spiritual levels, without any thought of reward. An attitude of generous giving, not selfish taking, motivated by the welfare of all beings, who are not regarded as “other.” (“Love thy neighbor as thy Self.”) Solidarity or oneness with all living beings.
*** Positive influence on sentient beings, inspiring greater ease, joy, love, unattachment, eagerness to serve the needy and other beautiful traits.
*** Equanimity or equipoise. Ability to flow with arising situations. Relaxation of binding attachments and aversions—i.e., freedom from greed, fear, anger, hatred, envy and other reactive, egocentric emotions. (Certain emotions may still occasionally arise for our sanctified friends, like brief anger or sadness when encountering injustice or pain afflicting sentient beings; but these emotions don’t throw them off balance, disturb their clarity, or interfere with effective action in the world.)
*** A deep bliss, joyous ease or extreme wellness, not to be confused with a mere self-centered euphoria on the surface level of the mind. A positive radiance of pure aliveness and innocent exuberance.
*** Nondual presence. Annihilation of any sense of separation, alienation or loneliness. For the most deeply realized mystics this matures as actual identification with God-Self, Spirit, Absolute Being.
*** Spontaneity. Freedom from hesitation or rigid, inflexible patterns of behavior. Ability to freely do whatever the situation indicates as appropriate action, even if unconventional—yet always from a virtuous context. A sense that actions can flow fairly effortlessly due to the Divine Power, without deliberate, willful effort or planning by the egocentric sense of “me, the doer.” Attunement to what can be called Tao or Divine Will.
*** Spontaneous thankfulness. A deep sense of gratitude to God or Spirit or Absolute Reality. (Again, for many holy ones this gratitude is nondual, free of any ultimate sense of separation from God/Spirit/Reality.)
*** A sense of being fully, consciously established in the eternal here-now (the nunc stans), free of obsessive or distracting memories, fantasies, anticipations and plans that abstract one out of the present.
*** Superior quality of attention. Extraordinary sensitivity to and mindfulness of phenomena, including people, animals, plants, nature and basic sensations (sounds, colors, tactile sensations, etc.) and psychological processes (thoughts, emotions) as well as any psychic phenomena that may arise (ESP input, apparitions of beings on subtle-energy planes, and so on).
*** Unattachment to any paranormal powers, psychic visions, or unusual experiences that may arise (and these states or powers often do arise for holy persons, since their consciousness has become highly refined and consciously aligned with the Source of manifestation).
*** Deep insight or intelligence—e.g., an ability to discern the Real (the unchanging Source-Awareness or God-Self) from unreal changing phenomena, the fleeting forms of the Formless.
*** An intuition that the changing, passing world is not so solid as most people think, but a cosmic dream, a “stage-play,” or “movie” conjured by God or Spirit out of primordial Divine No-thingness. Moreover, the most illustrious mystic sages/saints will affirm that whatever apparently happens in the phenomenal world is perfect, a wonderful expression of the Absolute; therefore, nothing that happens is ever truly a problem. Yet this is no license for apathy or irresponsibility; mystics urge us to empathize with the sufferings of our fellow beings and try to alleviate suffering. “It is all a dream, but one must act impeccably within the dream.”
*** “Moral intelligence”; acting in accordance with the Real (God’s Will) on behalf of the commonweal or public good and one’s highest nature.
*** Fearlessness. Courage. Freedom from neurotic aversion toward death, injury, disease, persecution, or any other form of so-called misfortune.
*** A greater sense of benign humor, innocent
playfulness, and good cheer. “Enlightenment” is lightening up.
Even though some of these
goals seem a bit abstract at first glance, they really do speak to a
person's spiritual experience on a daily basis. They are not
about enforcing dogmatic theological positions, but more about how the
quality of our spirituality affects our daily lives and the lives of
others. To me, that's tapping into Nature at its most
basic. Nature is about experience. Just as an animal in
nature taps into its inborn instincts to know how to behave, we as
humans must tap into the part of us which I will call our "spiritual
instincts.". In the Bible, it is what was meant by the statement
that "I will put my laws in their minds and write
them on their hearts." and "No
longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying,
the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the
greatest," The need to dogmatically cling to
theology is past. Our fundamental spiritual experiences need to
guide us. For us, it's tapping into that inner
spirit that connects us all.
Dr. Conway's website can
be found by Clicking
So our daily, spiritual
journey should be about experiencing, love, compassion, freedom,
courage, oneness with all, snd not being dogmatic. Think about it.