Living a Spiritual Life is about Attitude & Orientation,
& don't Forget Behaviors
by Jef Bartow
Since my commitment to spiritual growth in this life about 40 years ago, I have met all kinds of individuals and humans at various stages on the Spiritual Path. I have met many who believe they have "spiritually" arrived. I have witnessed more than a few struggling to maintain focus during the trials and tribulations that are necessary for us to individualize our spiritual Beingness. I have watched and endured the destruction of the Personality and Ego that must be accomplished in order to express a self-conscious Soul. A conclusion that I have come to is that if you're not living your spirituality in day-to-day life, it remains a belief and ideal that will only be accomplished in another lifetime. We have the choice of what attitude and orientation we take regarding our spiritual life. We also have the choice of what behaviors we will demonstrate in the process. Unfortunately, we don't have a choice regarding the obstacles, crises and dictates from Spirit which will be used to facilitate our growth into Spirit. That is why it is somewhat sad to see individual after individual who talks spirituality, but continues to live based on human conditioning and expectations. Some of the ways that this works out is displaying knowledge of spirituality, without the corresponding experience that makes it wisdom.Having an altruistic attitude and intellectual belief, but continuing to live based on family’s and society’s expectations and influence. And finally, talking about how their human issues in life have been resolved, while continuing to live based on empathetic friendship, loyalty, patriotism, self-oriented requirements of others, and most importantly: security, comfort and happiness.
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Every true mystic and outstanding spiritual initiate will tell you the same thing: spiritual growth is arduous. If you knew what it would take at the beginning to succeed, you wouldn't do it. And like climbing Mount Everest, 80% is disciplined conditioning and preparation while 20% is the actual assault to and from the top. If you're already ready to stop reading this article, I understand. Reaching the heights of Initiation seems to only come when there is this internal driving urge to not live a human life. That it has become empty and totally non-fulfilling. So, what are some of the attitudes and orientation, and most important behaviors that we need to exhibit so that Spirit, through Grace will bring us to the mountaintop?
A highly important attitude to assume is that "we take the steps, God does the work." Success and failure are both part of the Spiritual Path. In fact, we learn more from our failures than we ever do from our successes. Once we assume an attitude that we accomplished it, we made it happen, we are responsible; we’ve just stepped back into an ego driven life. A second highly important attitude to assume is that there are no coincidences, everything happens for a reason. Spirit will use anything in order to help us transform our consciousness and transmute our personality/ego. We develop endurance, temperance and fortitude when things are not going easily, or right (just). When things are flowing easily, it's time for gratitude and appreciation, because if it lasts for too long, you're not growing. Another powerful attitude to maintain is that Justice will prevail, but maybe not today. Living in Divine Justice highly accelerates our spiritual growth. It does this by not only resolving our karma, but bringing our karma to us. Working out our karma from a number of embodiments will not necessarily mean seeing justice done each day. I can recite example after example where I was treated either poorly, or unjustly in a significant situation in this life. Only years later was I shown the justice that ultimately prevailed, both for my growth and the growth of other individual involved.
I conclude that attitudes involve our outer objective way of approaching the world. Orientation, on the other hand, is more of an inner perspective and predisposition. We hold orientation consistent as we express our attitudes through behaviors. By doing so, we also demonstrate our orientation in daily life. Here I will also simply outline three orientations to assume on your spiritual journey. First, we need to look for Spirit in everyday life in order to see it around us. If we can't recognize the small miracles that Spirit brings us, we probably won't recognize the true Grace we live in. Although it has been said that we only live under grace for its particular portion of the Spiritual Path, I can testify that it is only by the Grace of God that I am still on the Spiritual Path.
Each of the spiritual Initiations, like climbing Mount Everest, involves preparation, ascent and descent. And by far, the dissent is the most arduous and dangerous part of one's continuation on the Path. Far more people die on the dissent from the top of Mount Everest than during the ascent. It is what we do after the "peak experience" that tells the tale of our spiritual growth.
Second, and I want to say the most important, is to first develop and then live putting others first, yourself second. If you are going to error, over demonstrate humility; acknowledging the positive in others; giving generously without expectation; and always seek to fulfill the needs of others, before focusing on your needs. This is what it means to live spiritual Love, not human love. A third key orientation does not relate to meeting Buddha on the road. It is simply that you may meet Christ on the road today, and he may call you home now rather than later. I wrote an entire article earlier regarding this: Always Be Prepared for Your Death. The changes in attitudes and behaviors that we put in place based on this will highly accelerate our spiritual growth. They will do the most to resolve our attachments; disconnect us from our entrenchments; and give and receive freedom that will separate us from our humanness.
The biggest thing that I see lacking in many individuals that consider themselves spiritual is the associated behaviors that demonstrate their spirituality. This entire article series is about principle-centered spirituality. But the key to this spirituality is living our principles. Yes it means putting aside time each day and periods each year to engage in our spiritual focus and commitment. It also means living our principles throughout day-to-day life with humans who are not living a spiritual life. This may sound somewhat critical, but typically one’s spirituality becomes their religion when they make it a part of their life, not driving their life. Compartmentalizing our spiritual activities, like we do with many areas of life, helps us to continue living a normal human life the rest of the time. Further, many believe that we must first get the "basics" taking care of, then we can live an altruistic/spiritual orientation. These basics include making/saving money, having a secure home life, living with a certain level of comfort, and being happy. Spiritually related to the basics just identified, money becomes just a resource to use, and stops it from being our security blanket. Our home life becomes the environment of our spiritual life. Those sharing our home life need to share our spiritual life, or give us the freedom to live a different life than theirs. Comforts become God's gifts: nothing to be taken for granted or expected; and easily given up. And finally, joy becomes both peak experiences and a way to live through each day's activities. Happiness assumes its proper place as an imaginary fairy tale, unrealizable in real life. A second set of behaviors that characterize every spiritual life is best described as: the devil is in the details. Making big gestures once in a while; or going to a spiritual conference each year; or making the big sacrifice to help out someone; needs to become acting our spiritual principles while cleaning up the kitchen; while taking out the trash; while carpooling to work or school; while dealing with the annoyances of today's rat race; and in dealing with the all too evident annoyances/issues in every relationship we have. Finally, a third way to behave that can never go wrong is to: always Love first, make everything else come second. Living our integrity with Love creates an environment for our integrity to survive. Realizing justice will come through our loving behaviors. Truth, our reality, then becomes qualified by Love through our love.
And Order, Peace, Beauty, and Innocence all become most easily realized through Love. And the simplest way to live Love is to seek Harmony, Faith, Purity and Serenity in our lives. If you don't remember from our past articles, besides Love, these are the other 11 characteristics of Spirit that we can realize and demonstrate on our spiritual journey.