Sunday, March 05, 2006

Living Spiritually

The key to spiritual living is living with attention. When we live with attention we see the richness of life: its diversity, its unity, its transience, and its rootedness in the eternal and ineffable reality of God. While everything we do should be done with attention, there are certain moments that lend themselves to spiritual awakening: rising up in the morning, going to sleep at night, eating, talking, and going to the toilet.

When you wake up in the morning take a moment to center yourself. Close your eyes. Invite any dream messages to clarify themselves in your waking mind. Think for a moment about what you can do today to make the world a little more just and kind for your having been born into it. Offer a prayer of thanks for life, and commit yourself to not wasting this gift in the vain pursuit of self.

When you go to sleep, take a moment to review the day. What did you do right that needs to be repeated? What did you do wrong that needs amending? What did you learn today? If there are pressing concerns write them on a piece of paper and place them under your pillow, inviting your soul to dream on these and send your waking mind insight into what is going on and how to deal with it in a manner that is uplifting both of self and other. Give thanks for the day and the blessedness of sleep.

When you eat, take a moment and give thanks for the food, and all those who made it possible for you to enjoy it. Before you end a meal, give thanks to God for life and the ability to transform food into energy for life. Pledge your life to enriching Life for otherwise you dishonor all who participated in your eating.

When you talk with people really meet them. Pay attention to what they say and not simply what you want to hear. And above all treat them and yourself with respect— say what you mean and do what you say.

When you go to the toilet offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the ability to eliminate waste. Without this you would die. Ask yourself what other waste threatens the quality of your life and then begin to eliminate it.

These five opportunities occur naturally during any given day. They can be supplemented with more disciplined spiritual practice as well: meditation, chanting, and spiritual reading. A fine guide in such things is Eknath Easwaran. I recommend any and all of his books, but start with his classic, "Meditation".

Spiritual practice is serious business. It helps to have a teach to guide you and a community to support you. There are many wise, compassionate and accessible teachers. Talk with them; find one who speaks to your deepest self. You will know if this person can be your guide not by the power of his or her presence but the room he or she makes for yours.

And while you are seeking don’t neglect the five daily opportunities for thanksgiving. These alone can transform your life and how you live it.

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