The simplest and clearest description of Spirituality I’ve been able to come up with is that it is a process of opening our hearts and minds to love while becoming fully and completely ourselves.
It’s not simply “learning to” love. We tend to see learning as a process of absorbing information, most often provided by others. We can’t learn to love as we learn history or algebra. Love is an evolving, changing process that adapts to circumstances as it grows and deepens. Spirituality is a process of removing obstacles to love while developing habits and routines that help us choose love whenever the opportunity is presented.
I believe there is a natural pull to the spiritual path within all of creation. We are drawn by love to love. The spiritual path is the Path of Love. There are no maps or guidebooks for the Path of Love because we each have a personal path that is deep within us. This path evolves and meanders with changing circumstances. The essential question answered on this path is “How do I bring love to this situation?”
The Path of Love travels through our hearts. We can’t get there when our mind is in the lead. Gaining knowledge and asking helpful questions can help us remove obstacles to love but will not direct us to the Path of Love. We access our hearts by being fully present to the moment. It’s not a focused presence as is often taught in mindfulness, but an open, receptive presence where active thought is suspended. Thoughts are centered in the past and future. They allow us to reflect on the past and anticipate the future. The heart is here and now.
We live in a man-made world of power and privilege that emphasizes the mind while ignoring the heart. I understand sin as “thoughts and actions that close our hearts.” I believe the two basic sins that lead to closed hearts: Seeking power over others; and Benefiting at the expense of others. I believe these sins lie at the root of many of the problems we face today.
I believe spirituality is a deeply personal path as well as a collective journey. There can be no boundaries on love. Love does not stop at the boundaries of family trees, cultural identities, or national borders. The nature of love is to expand. If it is not expanding, it’s not love.
We will occasionally receive mystical awakenings or deep spiritual experiences while on the Path of Love. These are gifts, signposts along the way. Focusing on signposts can take us off the Path of Love. Finding them with drugs, in my opinion, misses the whole point of spirituality.
There is a smorgasbord of spiritual techniques and disciplines available to seekers. It’s easy to get so caught up in tasting and that we forget the need for a nutritious meal. I believe the primary obstacles to the Path of Love are (1) A lack of physical, mental, and emotional balance; (2) Restricted awareness; (3) A lack of regard for truth; and (4) Belonging undermined by exclusion and isolation. I have identified core practices that can be incorporated into daily life to address these obstacles. These practices are simple and easy to learn. There are clear explanations of how and why they work and it’s relatively easy to identify and correct problems that keep them from working. Establishing a routine with these practices gradually removes obstacles to love in our lives while bringing us to a place of presence where our hearts can guide us to a deepening and expanding love.