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Spirituality is a broad concept of a belief in something beyond the self.  There is not a single path or belief system.   It may involve religious traditions that center on the belief in a higher power.  It can also involve a holistic belief in an individual connection to others and to the world as a whole.

Spirituality offers a worldview that suggests there is more to life than just what people experience on a sensory and physical level.  It proposes that there is something greater that connects all beings to each other and to the universe itself.  It also suggests that there is an ongoing existence after death and attempts to answer questions about the meaning of life.  This includes how people are connected to each other, mysteries of human existence, and even truths about the universe.

Signs of spirituality can include feelings of awe and wonder.  Often it involves seeking happiness beyond material possessions or other external rewards.  It could be an experiencing of compassion and empathy for others, and a deepening of connections with other people.   It could even extend to feelings of interconnectedness and wanting to make the world a better place.

Although spirituality is a personal experience, and paths may differ, research shows that some spiritual stress relief strategies have been helpful to many, regardless of faith.  Worthwhile avenues to exploring  spirituality would include the following practices.  Mindfulness, becoming more mindful, can help you become more aware and appreciative of the present.  This encourages you to be less judgmental and focus more on the moment than dwelling on the past, or future.  Meditation every day will supplement these efforts and increase one’s awareness, as may prayer.  Next, paying attention to your feelings helps you embrace what it means to be human, both good and bad.  Practicing gratitude can also be a great reminder of what is most important to you and what brings you the greatest happiness.  Focusing on others and helping others will open your heart and cause feelings of empathy, all important aspects of spiritually.  Journaling, an increasingly recognized valuable tool, will further open up paths to self-awareness, feelings, and spirituality.

Spiritual work is the labor of a lifetime.  It starts at different times and is experienced a little differently by everyone. …

Find the proper time:

The best time to focus on your spirituality will depend on your lifestyle and what you seek to gain from your practice.  A regular practice has been shown to lead to an array of health benefits, such as improve concentration, reduce stress levels, and enhance the quality of sleep.  It is a discovery of self and spirituality, however, that is the goal, which will be in proportion to your commitment.  So find the time that works for you.

Experience indicates the time varies from one person to another, but the top choice is morning when we wake up and feel refreshed.  After work or during lunch are possibilities, when a needed break is welcome.  Whenever you feel overwhelmed or stressed out is good, and before bed when you can really unwind.  Decide on a time that you are able to remain alert, aware, and focused.

Create the appropriate setting:

You need to create space that’s right for you.  Things to keep in mind would include cutting out background noises, personalize your space, create soft lighting, add soft furnishings, and choose soothing colors.  Also consider using scents and candles, and other connections with nature, such as natural light and perhaps a serene painting or picture.  The space is yours, and should be up to you and what makes you feel most comfortable.

A corner will do, clean and uncluttered.  Work with it, and feel free to adjust and change it as you need to.  Just be sure it’s a ‘feel good’ space, and has the degree of privacy you need. 

Make the commitment:

Making a commitment is to promise to do something.  It is a firm decision or pledge that you make to do something in the future.  It is the act of binding yourself, intellectually and emotionally, to a course of action.  It should not be taken lightly.  It is also an action that is meant to help you achieve your goal.

This commitment demands that you set your goals, commit to the process, and have a plan.  It’s not important that you tell other people, but you can if it helps motivate you and hold you accountable.  Then you need to get started and reward yourself, although implementation of this process well be reward enough.  

(this completes the initial outline of Bringing things into Focus and Taking the next Steps – the future postings will hopefully help you to Continue your individual Spiritual Journey …)

(these are the last two parts of the outline under Bringing things into Focus)

Limitations:

There’s so much we do not know, and will never know.  That’s just the way ‘it is.’  We’re only human beings on this earth for a short time, and only conscious of this existence.  Even then we are often not aware of who and what we are, or what we could be.

We are such a small spec in the total universe.  The realization that everything is temporary is so hard to absorb.  It is difficult to even begin to comprehend, especially when we tend to push that concept away.  We don’t want to understand that.  It’s very scary, so why try to accept it. 

Our limitation is most often only ourselves.  Life often gets ‘thrown away’ with ‘key meetings.’  There’s a danger in working only on the outside.  It’s the inside we should be focusing on.  Look not at the event, as it’s about what happens to you on the inside.  The task is not to get pulled in.  It’s about losing our sense of self.

Too often our life is in neutral.  We’re ‘just there’ and events just happen.  We don’t always experience life.  As a result we forget to taste life as it goes by.

We often attempt to define and control life.  We sometimes try to manipulate life.  Things are often neither right nor wrong, they just are.  (Most things are not right or wrong.)  Life is like that.  It seems by nature we want to define and control.  How difficult it is for us to go with the flow, accept reality, and be alert to what the world is often trying to telling us.

Strengths:

There is not a single path we are all on.  There are, however, usually some common concerns and desires we all share.  At some level, at some stage of our life, we usually have feelings of awe and wonder, seek happiness beyond material possessions or other external rewards, have feelings of compassion and empathy for others, deepen connections with other people, ask questions about topics such as suffering and what happens after death, experience feelings of interconnectedness and a desire to make the world a better place.  It is a process and our values hopefully become clearer.

Dealing with Reality:

No matter what we do, or try to do, we are a part of the reality of this world.  We cannot escape this fact.  Rather than identify with this world, however, we need to face our own predicament and avoid attaching ourselves to the results. If we shift our focus to a process thinking versus outcome thinking, we will be able to live a more peaceful and productive life.  If we are able to separate the reality we cannot control and focus on those things we can control, it will give us a new found freedom.

Consciousness is required to keep a constant vigilance and to focus our attention on our relationship with reality.  This clearly involves welcoming change and embracing challenges.  It includes doing everything that you do effectively with passion, commitment and confidence.  

It often helps to just focus on putting one foot in front of the other.  This means actively doing what we need to do in order to keep moving forward, and creating a momentum.  It means maintaining one’s values and goals, and achieving those things in life we find meaningful and purposeful.  It also means continuing one’s own spiritual journey of self-awareness and discovery, and a greater understanding and acceptance of ‘what is.’     

Be aware of ‘what is’ and push away that which disturbs you and which you cannot control.  Focus on those things that attract you and where you can make a difference.  Do what’s in front of you and in your control.  Go with life and decide to grow by doing those things that you can.

The recent phase of this blog is complete, and a new approach will now begin.

The past years have focused on concepts relating to the Meaning of Life.  That effort culminated in the expansion of those concepts and ideas, and concluded with a published book – The Meaning of Life.  (Amazon Dick Rappleye The Meaning of Life)

This new phase will explorer concepts relating to the Spiritual Journey.  This effort will follow a similar format, being a series of ideas and approaches that will hopefully stimulate the readers thinking.  The goal is to encourage further exploration and facilitate one’s own Spiritual Journey.

Initial outline of future Spiritual Journey blogs:

     Bringing things into Focus

            Dealing with Reality

            Our Limitations

            Our Strengths

     Taking the next Steps

            Find the proper Time

            Create the proper Setting

            Make the Commitment

    Continuing your individual Spiritual Journey

The many lessons of grief include a better understanding of loss, transitions, and changes, as well as a heightened appreciation of love, family, and friends.  Grief is painful, but usually brings an opportunity to experience the feelings that come with being human.  It is a chance to appreciate life, because if we don’t reach the heights of love, sharing, relationships, caring (the list goes on) how could we ever reach the painful depths of life – the loss of those peak experiences of life. of things and those we love.

Like most of life, you must let yourself feel it, sense it, experience it.  Without the true highs then there could not be the depths of lows.  The highs and lows are all part of it.  They depend on each other. 

Grief is a part of life, with many theories for dealing with it.  Included are: 

Kubler Ross’s 5 stages of grief –denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance

Rando’s 6 Rs for processing mourning – recognize the loss, react to the separation, recollect and re-experience (the deceased), relinquish old attachments, readjust (to a new world),  reinvest (emotional energy)

     Bowlby’s 4 stages of grief – shock and numbness, yearning and searching, despair and  disorganization, reorganization and recovery

     Warden’s 4 tasks of mourning – accept the reality of the loss, work through the pain of grief, adjust to an environment where the deceased  is missing, find an enduring connection  with the deceased while embarking on a new life

     Eric Lindermann’s 3 steps to recovery – emancipation from bondage to the deceased, readjustment to a new environment in which the deceased is missing, formation of new relationships

     Klass, Silverman, and Nickman’s continuing bonds theory – suggests that rather than assuming detachment as a normal grief response, consider creating a new relationship with the deceased. This does not mean one is not grieving in a normal and healthy way, but that grief can include having ties to loved ones where one finds ways to adjust and redefine the relationship with that person.

Things to remember as you deal with grief include:

           Grief is unique for each person

            Stages are not linear

            Not everyone goes through stages in a prescribed order

            Path is more like a labyrinth, not a tunnel

            Stages are just tools

            Steps may repeat

            There is no endpoint

C.S.Lewis – Feeling, and feelings, and feelings.  Let me try thinking instead.

                  –  It doesn’t really matter whether you grip the arms of the dentist chair or let your hands lie ii your lap.  The drill drills on.

                   -Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.

Experiences feed our attachments and increase our desire for more experiences.  When we begin to sense the unity of all things, however, we can begin to identity our Self.  It is then that our perspective can grow and change can take place.

When we begin to awaken, our experiences lead to reflection and insight.  This developing of consciousness can enable the soul to free itself from the bonds of the ego.  The experiences that form our ego seem real at the time, but they constantly change.  We have endless experiences, but the Self is separate.

The Self is on a different level of consciousness.  It doesn’t try to change, evaluate or judge, it just observes.  The Self is what helps you to center.  It is the part of your soul that allows you the discriminate between your soul and your ego, between your real Self and the self of this human life.

Human life is a series of experiences.  When one becomes aware of the process, they can begin to shift their identification from these roles and thought forms.  The process becomes more like watching a movie than being the central character in one.

 

Ego = _____1_____

Knowledge               More the knowledge, the lesser the ego

Lesser the knowledge, more the ego               Albert Einstein

When the ego dies, the soul awakes.      Mahama Gandhi

The ego wants quantity but the soul wants quality.

If you want to improve, you must be content to be thought foolish and stupid.   Epictetus

A bad day for your ego is a great day for you soul.     J. Michaels

Your ego is your soul’s worst enemy.      R. Eric

Your were born to be real, not to be perfect.

Sometimes you have to be alone to truly know your worth.   K. Baquirue

I am me, nothing more, nothing less, and that is enough.   H. Dayal

It’s not your job to like me.  It’s mine.

 

We are searching for answers that are beyond our reach.  Yet the combined human intelligence is constantly growing.  As a result, perhaps some of the things we are seeking answers for may someday be common knowledge.

In the past, religious and native cultures had many of the answers for their questions, but it could not be proven by science.  Today science has many answers for past questions, but still has not made the connection with spirituality.  Who knows where it may end, what someday we may know.

Clearly we seem to be evolving.  Quantum theory in the early 1900s called for a new order of physics.  It sought to explain the seen and the unseen.  It looked for the connection between the macros and micros.  By the mid-1900s Bohm wanted a radically new order of physics, one that included focusing on the enfolding and unfolding of the universe.  He wanted to start with process, not particles.  It left the door open for thinking of the soul as a movement in our life.  The possibility that life is a wholeness of nature and consciousness.

Science is reaching out closer to a possible bridge to understanding spirituality, a greater understanding of who we are, where did we come from, and what is our purpose.  This all will hopefully add to our insight as what is reality.  Perhaps we are the determiner of what we see.  Quantum physics invites us to see the whole of which we may see that we are co-producers.  Wholeness is an interdependency where we may be internally related to everything..  It shows how we need to look beyond the form to see the oneness, and how reality is undivided wholeness.  Hopefully this knowledge may even show us how we interact with each other and with the earth, and how we must solve our problems together.

While we’re here, do we have a responsibility – to others, to ourselves?  short term, long term?  Does our life view make a difference – if we are a physical being and only live once, if we value making it better for those who come later, if we believe in reincarnation, or if feel we need to enhance the progress and growth of our spirit?  Maybe we’re not sure, don’t care, or believe at some level we should be responsible, but can’t make a difference anyway.  We’re only one person in a world that’s moving faster than we can comprehend and certainly can’t control.  Maybe we need to step back and look closer at compassion, at oneness, at working together, and at what we can do.

Compassion versus Self-Interest:  When looking at the question of morality versus self-interest, many people assume that feeling compassion for others is only good for the others, and not for oneself.   The Dalai Lama points out that the first beneficiary of compassion is always one’s self.   When compassion arises in us and shifts our focus away from our own narrow self-interest, it is as if we open an inner door:  Compassion reduces our fear, boosts our confidence, and brings us inner strength.  By reducing distrust, it opens us to others and brings us a sense of connection with them and a sense of purpose and meaning in life.

Accepting We Are One:  Diversity can be the art of thinking independently together.  It’s not the differences that divide us.  It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.  Most often our failure lies not in what we do but in what we do not do, the words we fail to say, the hand we fail to reach out to.

People Working Together:  It’s helpful to see the interconnectedness between things.  We may want to recognize too that the spiritual paradigm is growing in all kinds of ways, though still has a long ways to go.  Believing that this life is the only one may well lead to developing no long-term vision.  Then there is nothing to restrain plundering the planet for immediate ends and from living in a selfish way that could prove fatal for the future.  We are not the center of the universe.  We need to shift awareness.  This is the age of interdependence.

Paradigm Change:  We need to face the challenge of responsibility, of freedom, of compassion.  If not us, who – if not now, when?  We must stand together for morality, for what we know is right and just. World systems make it difficult to make massive changes.  We need to live in the currents.  The secret in turbulent water is not to fight, but to let the current take you out.  It may take you out a long ways, but then it will drop you.  Then you can swim back in on the eddy, which can take you almost all the way back to the beach and solid ground.  Then you can do it again.  That may be the way we have to do it.

The time is always right to do what is right.  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.   Sigmund Freud

It is our own responsibility, as best we can, to live up to the divine potential God has placed within each one of us.   Marianne Williamson

You never go wrong when you do the right then.  Mark Twain.

Well done is better than well said.  Ben Franklin

Humankind has not woven the web of life.  We are but one thread within it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.  All things are bound together.  All things connect.    Chief Seattle  (1854)

This is really the problem with Gen X and baby boomers.  They’ve championed this kind of individualism.  They’ve championed thinking less about the community.    Neil Howe

Nothing worth doing can be done in a single lifetime.  Reinhold Niebuhr

What we do for ourselves dies with us.  What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.   Albert Pike

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.   Margaret Mead

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.   Ralph Waldo Emerson

We learn from history that we do not learn from history.  George Bernard Shaw

There is no path to peace.  Peace is the path.    Gandhi

You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think.  The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice.  What you do comes from what you think.    Marianne Williamson

If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.   Chinese proverb

 

 

We’ll never know the essence of death, or what lies beyond.  We’d be missing an opportunity, however, if we didn’t examine the issue more closely – what can be learned, where might it lead, are there clues to what may be after, is it only a phase of something greater?  One needs to let their preconceived notions go, and go deep within to explore and listen to what may come forth.

Physical and/or Spiritual:  The question of “Where did I come from?” Is really only addressing the “I” that is the physical body – but the physical aspect originated in non-beingness.  We come from mystery and we return to mystery.  The truth would seem to be that our essence is eternal.  Only our physical body appears to come and go in a cycle of birth and death.

The End or Reincarnation:  Perhaps it is not true that the expression of God through our physical self is an endpoint.   That would be to create an ego-driven life.  The lesson in this philosophical journey may be to recognize our primary identity as a spiritual being that is eternal and therefore impervious to both birth and death.  Perhaps the human journey in bodily form is barely a parenthesis in the eternity of our real self.  Before we shed our physical body and complete the return trip we can hopefully begin to understand our original nature – and by making an effort to be more like what we imagine our Source of being to be.

Living Consciously:  Whatever you do, you will die.  Whatever you manage to build will be broken down, sometimes while you’re still around to watch.  The day will come that your life’s work is unraveled.  It appears the lesson is to not be aware of what death is, but of what life is.  The best preparation for death is to become more and more enlightened in this life.

Dying Consciously:  The key to conscious dying is living consciously – knowing who we are, why we’re here, what we’re doing.  Everyone has the opportunity to find that out.  That’s conscious living.  Then we don’t have to worry about dying, because we will.  Death is the stripping away of all that is not you.  The secret of life may be to “die before you die” – and find that there is no death.

The Common Journey:  We do know that we are not alone.  There are others on their way on the same track.  We are travelers from nowhere to nowhere, on our way from nothing to nothing.  The track may be narrow and steep and boring and frightening, but everybody walks on it.  We are not alone but linked to everything around us.

The voice of Nature loudly cries, and many a message from the skies, that something in us never dies.  Robert Burns  (1791)

The spiritual life does not remove us from the world, but leads us deeper into it.  H.M.  Nouwen

We see in straight lines, but life is circles.  Anon

Body is like a suit of clothes.  It is not who you are.  We are spirit.   Course in Miracles

Enlightenment is realizing death does not exist.  One transcends death by realizing it does not exist.