is a revolution going on. And, perhaps without even knowing,
you are standing right in the middle of it. For this revolution
is being staged within ourselvesour hearts and souls.
And more than anything we are being called to surrender
rather than fight. As the Latin meaning of revolution implies,
it is time to "turn over" the soil of our inner
to do this it is natural to ask what are we turning over
to? At different times in our life we face a series of questions
about personal meaning and the fire, passion, comfort, and
purpose which keeps us growing. Questions such as: Who am
I? Is this all there is? What lies beyond this life? What
we grew up in a religious setting, clergy, school or scriptures
easily answered these questions. But many find these prescribed
answers to be contradictory or empty and pursue answers
outside of what they used to know and trust. As the sociologist
Robert Wunthrow (1998) discovered, Americans spirituality
is shifting from that of the Member (of church, temple,
organization, etc.) to that of the Seeker. With this revolutionary
change, where we "turn over" more to the Unknown
than ever before, comes great and inspiring revelations.
One of the unknowns Seekers encounter is how to define spirituality.
This quest can be a confusing and humbling journey. In this
discovery process one can open to new ways of knowing through
sifting through what spirituality is not. In the past it
has been relegated to morals, ethics, the psychic or religious.
Yet we have come to see these paths are partial and incomplete.
So how do we truly know what Spirituality means for us,
individually and collectively, if the paths we are used
to are so limited? This drawback becomes very obvious when
we taste living a spiritual life, for we realize that spirituality
lies beyond these limits, including them perhaps, but opening
us to a much deeper yearning and vaster realm of possibilities.
Over the last several decades researchers have found that
those who explore spirituality become aware of a set of
values that redefines their sense of self, relationships,
nature, life and whatever one considers to be "The
Ultimate". These values are:
1. A transcendent dimension: Believing in "something
more" and gaining a sense of empowerment and comfort.
2. Meaning in life: Developing an authentic and unique personal
3. Mission in life: Responding to a "still small voice"
4. Sacredness in life: Finding awe and reverence in daily
5. Ultimate satisfaction: Appreciating the invisible, not
just the material.
6. Service: Supporting the common humanity we all share.
7. Idealism: Committing to the betterment of the world.
8. Realism: Acknowledging the suffering of others and developing
9. Courage: Willingness to open to change and growth.
fruits of spirituality, derived from living a life based
on these values, are seen within a spiritual persons
attitude, beliefs, and activities. Their compassion, joy,
devotion and courage have a calming and inspiring influence
on their lives and relationships. But these values are not
just learned or consumed. Rathered they are uncovered through
the experiences of striving to live a spiritual life.
where does one start on this quest? The sociologist Wunthrows
research reveals that when we move from the limitations
of being a member of an institution we often sacrifice our
sense of belonging and affiliation. This is a essential
human need and many of us suffer a feeling of separation
and loneliness. And if we were to just stay in the role
of Seeker we could likely encounter a sense of being lost
are many beginning points. Points that help us balance a
sense of connection throughout our individual searches for
the spirituality that has vital meaning for us. The crux
of those points is to develop a practice where we can awaken
and discover a spirituality with substance. Committing to
a spiritual practice can open us to a dynamic creative process
and offer us an inner space to dwell. It can nurture us
and provide a vehicle of service. And in the process of
delving deeper into a practice we find ourselves transformed.
Changed in such a way that we know, deep inside, the spiritual
values outlined above can be felt and understood right down
to our very bones.
Robert. After Heaven: Spirituality in America Since the
1950s. University of California Press, 1998.
Wunthrow looks at the difficulties Americans face in sustaining
a spiritual life and their draw to "practice-oriented
spirituality" to find ways to relate to the sacred
in daily life.