Daily InspirationFocus today on kindness and caring for yourself and others. Focus on compassion for your own feelings and for the feelings of others. Caring for others without caring for yourself is self-abandoning and can be manipulative. Caring just about yourself and ignoring the feelings of others is self-centered. Caring about yourself and others is loving. By Dr. Margaret Paul
What Does it Mean to be a Spiritual Person?By Dr. Margaret Paul
December 31, 2006
People often confuse spirituality with religion. People can be both religious and spiritual, but it is also possible to be religious without being spiritual, or to be spiritual without being religious.
You go to church every Sunday and you say your prayers every day. Does this mean you are a spiritual person?
You practice yoga and meditate every day. Does this mean you are a spiritual person?
You belong to spiritual group and are devoted to following the teachings of the group. Does this mean you are a spiritual person?
What, then, does it mean to be a spiritual person?
Being a spiritual person is synonymous with being a person whose highest priority is to be loving to oneself and others. A spiritual person cares about people, animals, and the planet. A spiritual person knows that we are all One, and consciously attempts to honor this Oneness. A spiritual person is a kind person.
So, you can go to church every Sunday and say your prayers every day, without caring about loving yourself, others and the planet. You can practice yoga and meditate every day without being conscious of what is loving and what is not loving in your thoughts and actions. You can belong to a spiritual group and devotedly follow the teachings, yet still be judgmental toward yourself and others in your daily life.
There are many people who do not practice a religion, who do not meditate, pray or belong to any group, who are very spiritual people. These people naturally do caring things for others. They think about how they can help. Their thoughts are kind rather than judgmental toward themselves and toward others. When you look at them, you see kindness in their eyes.
There are many religious people who are anything but kind. We all know of religious people who are extremely judgmental, righteous, and outright mean. Can you be both religious and spiritual? Of course! But only when you are operating in your religion from your heart rather than from the learned dogma of your mind.
Years ago I very briefly attended a "spiritual" group. People would meet in an auditorium to hear the leader of the group speak. The second time I attended I heard a number of parents yelling at their children and judging them to try to control them. These parents were being anything but kind with their children. That was the last time I attended the spiritual group. The focus of the group was surrender to God, but love was rarely in the picture! They obviously had a very different experience of God than I did.
My experience of God is that God is the energy of Love that created us and sustains us. In my experience, "God is Spirit" (John 4:24) and "God is love" (1 John 4:16). Anything that is not of love, peace, joy, truth and kindness is not of God. Praying to God does not mean that you are allowing the spirit that is God - the love, peace, joy, truth and kindness that is God - to guide your thoughts and actions. Practicing yoga or meditating does not mean that you have invited the love that is God into your heart, or that you are turning to that ever-present love to learn about what is in your highest good, and the highest good of others and the planet.
If you want to be a spiritual person, then let kindness be your guiding light - kindness toward yourself, toward others, toward animals, and toward this beautiful planet that is our home. Recognize that we all have the spark of love that is God within us, and learn to honor that love so that you can know and experience the Oneness of all that is.
Practicing Inner Bonding and learning to be kind to yourself inevitably leads to kindness to others. Inner Bonding is a powerful spiritual path.
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