The following passage is from the book ‘The Alternative 12 Steps, A Secular Guide to Recovery’, by Martha Cleveland, Ph.d. and Arlys G.
“Lots of us confuse spirituality and religion. The words are often used interchangeably and we must realize that they shouldn’t be, for they have different meanings. To call religion spiritual is true, but religion is only one source of spiritual power. There are many, many others.
The word spirit comes from a Latin word that means breath, life, vigor. We call something spiritual when it represents life or when it enhances life.
There are people who center their spirituality on religious practices and principles. There are others who find spiritual connections with things totally outside of any religious framework. As far as spirituality is concerned, to believe in a God or not to believe in a God doesn’t matter. What matters is to have faith in our spiritual self – in other words, to have faith in the energy that gives us life.
The phrase “spiritual resources” can be interpreted in many ways. Does it have to mean something great and mystical? Probably not. Does it mean there are a certain number of clearly defined sources of power that we can tap into? No. There are many sources of spiritual power, more than any of us will ever be aware of or be able to use.
Spiritual power comes from whatever gives us peace, hope or strength and enhances our humanity.”
Short video by ‘The School of Life’ on a more rational or humanistic understanding of the term ‘Higher Consciousness.’ Voiced by the philosopher Alain De Botton.
Non-Theistic Buddhist Prayer
The following description of Buddhist prayer in the book ‘Experiencing Spirituality’, p.228, by Ernest Kurtz & Katherine Ketcham, Penguin Group, 2014, expresses to a large degree my interpretation of non-theistic prayer and how it can relate to Step 7.
“Buddhist prayer is a practice to awaken our inherent inner capacities of strength, compassion and wisdom rather than to petition external forces based on fear, idolizing, and worldly and/or heavenly gain. Buddhist prayer is a form of meditation; it is a practice of inner reconditioning. Buddhist prayer replaces the negative with the virtuous and points us to the blessings of life.
For Buddhists, prayer expresses an aspiration to pull something into one’s life, like some new energy or purifying influence and share it with all beings. Likewise, prayer inspires our hearts towards wisdom and compassion for others and ourselves. It allows us to turn our hearts and minds to the beneficial, rousing our thoughts and actions towards Awakening. If we believe in something enough, it will take hold of us. In other words, believing in it, we will become what we believe.”
“The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”
Goethe (1794 – 1832)
If we wholeheartedly want it and commit to the action (inward psychic experience), then the universe quite often seems to help out somehow (synchronicity – acausal connecting principle). It’s a mysterious world!
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
The Spirit of Life
In the book Everyday Spiritual Practice, Scott Alexander defines spirituality as our relationship with the Spirit of Life, whatever we understand the Spirit of Life to be. Our spirituality is our deep, reflective, and expressed response to the awe, wonder, joy, pain, and grief of being alive.
Spirit of Life, come unto me.
Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.
Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;
Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.
Roots hold me close; wings set me free;
Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.
Video Link. Meditate on the lyrics.
“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.”
― Lao Tzu,
“Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.”
― Lao Tzu,
The Leap. By Steve Taylor.
Many assume that enlightenment is the result of arduous effort and self-denial such as fasting, travel to far-flung places, and encounters with teachers thought to be enlightened themselves. But here, Steve Taylor shows that ordinary people from all walks of life and every age and place can and do regularly experience the kind of life-changing moments many of us seek. Taylor seeks out the common features of these diverse experiences. His resulting cross-cultural investigation of spirituality, belief, and human psychology shows how spiritual awakening is a shift into a more expansive and harmonious state of being and can be both recognized and cultivated. How is it triggered and experienced? How do people feel in the midst? How are their relationships and goals affected? Because the experiences Taylor describes are at once unique to those who experience them and obviously available to one and all, this is a rare work that both describes and inspires.