Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Seven Virtues of a Spiritual Life - Commitment

There are, I believe, seven core virtues that we see in those who live a truly spiritual life: Patience, Lovingkindness, Forgiveness, Humility, Commitment, Trust, and Wisdom.

Commitment is not about being visible to others once a week in church, synagogue or mosque, though such attendance can be spiritually informative.  It is not about the rote recitation of memorized phrases learned over time, though such recitations can spiritually reinforce us.  It is not about speaking prayers at mealtimes or bedtime, though such dialogs can enable us to speak the thoughts or concerns that we have in our hearts.  It is not about sitting in quiet meditation, though such reflection can strengthen our focus and understandings of ourselves and the world within which we live.  It is not about the jewelry or the artifacts on our bookshelves or altars, though these can serve to continually remind us throughout the day as to where we need to shift our attention.

The Spiritual Person likely performs or evidences many of these things as well as others.  But she understands that while these things can be helpful tools in her spiritual life, they do not in and of themselves create or evidence a true spiritual life.  Nor do formal robes, college degrees, official titles or religious standings – which often interfere with living a true spiritual life.

For the Spiritual Person, it is the ongoing commitment to living spiritually that is of true importance.  It is simply the commitment to live each day, and each hour of that day, spiritually first and secularly second.  To follow where heart and soul lead, with the courage and determination to make the often difficult spiritual journey.  To not be pulled astray and blinded by the demands, peer pressures, momentary attractions and egotistical drives of our secular life.  It is continuously remembering and living what is truly important in human life.

Life is both a spiritual and secular existence; one does not preclude the other.  Secular success can be a viable and acceptable part of one’s life, but only when it is achieved secondarily to and within our spiritual framework.  Whatever opportunities and resultant successes and rewards may come to the Spiritual Person, he remembers his values first, his overriding commitment above all to fulfilling his understandings of his God.  We were once told to “Give unto Caesar (the secular world) what is Caesar’s, and give unto God what is God’s.”  I would only add to that wisdom, “And give to God first.”

Commitment does not require one to withdraw from the secular world, to live only in a spiritual cloister.  Rather, the commitment within the Spiritual Person is to simply live true to herself, start each thought from a spiritual foundation, and ensure that each action thereby reflects her truest belief.  If conflicts arise, the secular needs always give way to spiritual consistency.  For it is in the consistency of the Spiritual Person that we see commitment fulfilled, rather than spirituality exercised only when easy or convenient.  For the Spiritual Person, the spiritual and secular life are one, both designed and lived so as to support each other; therefore conflict between the two does not arise.

When all things in life are understood to be divine, the commitment to live in a spiritual way, all and every day, becomes surprisingly easier.  The Spiritual Person commits to just doing what is right.  All of the time.