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Spirituality        Next >


Why Develop Your Spirituality?


Today's Snack: The word "supernatural" means "above nature" - things you can't detect with your five senses. But there's something that's supernaturally good to eat - and it's one of the healthiest dessert choices around: angel food cake!

The store-bought, pre-baked ones are great, or you can enjoy the aroma of one baking in your oven, although you do have to have a special pan for this cake.

Compared to other desserts, it's low-fat, low-calorie and low-sodium, and if you eat it with fresh fruit - like bursting berries or luscious peach slices - it's . . . well . . . it's HEAVENLY!





Try to find an old three-legged stool

or something else with three legs or supports - preferably

one that you can unscrew one of the legs, such as a camp stool,

so that you can show the difference in stability between

sitting on a three-legged stool vs. a two-legged stool;

or make a three-legged stool out of cardboard and toilet-paper rolls;

bring scissors to cut off one leg during this activity



What if, when you stopped growing, two-thirds of your body reached its full height, but the remaining one-third of your body stayed the size it was when you were born?


You'd walk funny, that's for sure.


Well, that makes about as much sense as people who agree that we each need to develop our body and our mind, and help them grow strong and capable . . . but heavens to Betsy, if we lift a FINGER to develop our SPIRIT, we should be rushed off to the funny farm as a raving loony tune.


You know, that just isn't right, and it just isn't fair. We all agree that a human being is made up of three parts: body, mind and spirit. You really do have to develop all three. None of them should be segregated. They're all part of the whole that is you.


Take a look at this three-legged stool. You can sit on it, and because it has that powerful, balanced, load-bearing structure, of three legs, it'll hold a lot of weight. Try it!


That's how it is with a person who has educated all parts of himself or herself: body, mind and spirit. Literally, that person is a person of . . . excuse the pun . . . WEIGHTY character.


But if we neglect our spiritual development, we go from strength and balance in our lives to . . . CRASH! . . . when the third leg is taken away from that stool, it gets crooked and falls to the ground. If you can, try that, too.


Look at three of the most evil villains of world history: Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Mao Tse Tung. They killed millions and millions of innocent people. Yet all three of them were very, very smart men. They just weren't smart at all spiritually. And that's the difference.


Even though we all know this, deep down, many of us DO neglect ourselves spiritually. Maybe it's because nobody else we know is growing spiritually and we don't want to look like an oddball.


Or we don't have a ride to get to the church, synagogue or other place of religious worship.


Or we'd rather sleep in than go to a religious service.


Or we're happier to keep doing only slightly naughty things - not REALLY naughty, mind you - but slightly naughty, and stay away from people in spiritual authority. Who wants to let a spiritual leader get to know us so that we have to be accountable to them, and quit doing the slightly naughty things we like to do?


Spiritually grown-up people do, that's who. That's the whole idea: to recognize that you're not perfect . . . but you're trying to be a whole lot better in every area that you can.


What exactly IS your "spirit"? Well, it's described as a lot of things. It's your self - your consciousness - your heart - your soul - your moral principles - your conscience, or the thing that makes you feel guilty when you've done wrong and joyful when you've done right -- your convictions about what's right and wrong, what matters and what doesn't -- what makes you see the world the way you do - what gives you insight into yourself and others.


Through spirituality, you can get "the big picture" about life, and see how your existence tucks into the grander scheme of things. You get good self-discipline, the willpower to stay away from stuff you know you shouldn't do, and even money management skills, since someone who's growing spiritually usually thinks more about other people and starts wanting to give away more money and "stuff" to help them, but needs to manage his or her own money better to do it without going broke in the process.


By study, discussion, prayer, worship, service and participation with others in activities that can actually be . . . GASP! . . . fun, your spiritual life can be every bit as interesting and rewarding as your academic life and your physical/exercise/sports life, if not more, since, as most religions will tell you, the rewards are . . . eternal!


Most people who have worked on their spiritual development stay within the boundaries of a particular religion with its particular teaching tools. For example, for Jews and Christians, it's the Bible. For Muslims, it's the Qu'ran. There are basic outward practices and even behaviors and manners of dress that signify if you are practicing a particular religion.


But you don't have to be "religious" to still have a mature spirit and know yourself and others very well. And some of the very wisest, most advanced people spiritually are actually not very involved or in leadership roles in an organized religious institution or group at all - although usually, membership with other people and aligning your life to your shared beliefs is a really good sign of mature spirituality, more so than someone trying to go it alone.


The point is, some of the greatest people who ever lived have said that spiritual development is the most important form of development, and shouldn't be neglected. If they're role models for the world, shouldn't we follow their advice?


Here are some quotes from a few of them:



Conscience is thoroughly well-bred

and soon leaves off talking to those who do not wish to hear it.


- Samuel Butler, writer (1835-1902)



The gem cannot be polished without friction,

nor man perfected without trials.

Chinese Proverb



Please subdue the anguish of your soul.

Nobody is destined only to happiness or to pain.

The wheel of life takes one up and down by turn.


Kalidasa, dramatist (c. 4th century)



The hottest places in hell are reserved

or those who, in time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.


Dante Alighieri, poet (1265-1321)



His mother had often said, When you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action. She had emphasized the corollary of this axiom even more vehemently: when you desired a consequence you had damned well better take the action

that would create it.


Lois McMaster Bujold, writer (1949- )



Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment,

and learn again to exercise his will his personal responsibility

in the realm of faith and morals.


Albert Schweitzer, humanitarian (1875-1965)



He is the best physician

who is the most ingenious inspirer of hope.


-- Samuel Taylor Coleridge,

poet, critic, and philosopher (1772-1834)



Gratitude is not only the "greatest of virtues,

but the parent of all others."


Cicero, Roman orator (106 - 43 B.C.)



No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind. . . .


John Donne, poet (1573-1631)



To be able under all circumstances to practice five things constitutes

perfect virtue; these five things are gravity, generosity of soul,

sincerity, earnestness and kindness.


Confucius, philosopher and teacher (c. 551-478 BC)



It was by perseverance that the snail reached the ark.


Charles Haddon Spurgeon, English preacher (1834-92)



Life is mostly froth and bubble,

Two things stand like stone,

Kindness in another's trouble,

Courage in your own.


Adam Lindsay Gordon, poet (1833-1870)



In the small matters trust the mind, in the large ones the heart.


-- Sigmund Freud, neurologist,

founder of psychoanalysis (1856-1939)



The virtue of men are of more consequence to society than their abilities; and for this reason, the heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head.

-- Noah Webster, lexicographer (dictionary writer),

"The Father of American Scholarship and Education" (1758-1843)



A trained intelligence can do much,

but there is no substitute for morality,

character and religious conviction.


-- Calvin Coolidge, U.S. President (1872-1933)


By Susan Darst Williams Spirituality 01 2011



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