Saturday, December 10, 2011

Seven Virtues Of A Spiritual Life - Trust

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.

Trust is a quality we apply to a variety of objects: people, including close family/friends, casual acquaintances, and unknown faces that nevertheless still impact our lives; institutions with whom we engage, some of our own choosing and some not; our near and tangible environment within which we live; and a more distant, intangible spirit which envelops all that enters our life.  Many of us can recite a substantial list of people and instances where we believe our trust was betrayed, our expectations of people or events were not met, perhaps resulting in our perspectives about life and how we would live it being significantly altered.

For the Spiritual Person, such a list of the “untrustworthy” is likely quite short.  For the Spiritual Person has learned that untrustworthiness is not really a measure of others; rather, it is a statement of the perspective we have of the people and things that surround us.  For the Spiritual Person, Trust is not about whether people have lived up to our expectations of them; it is about why we chose to put that expectation on them in the first place.

People are who they are; institutions are what they are; nature is what nature is; God is what Spirit is.  Yet we spend much time and effort seeing these objects as we would like them to be, not as they are.  We put undue trust in things without taking the time to understand the nature of what these things truly are, and therefore whether our expectations (trust) have been properly placed.  People are normally not untrustworthy.  In fact they rarely act outside of their true character.  It is we who did not have correct insight to understand what that character truly was so that we could put appropriate expectations upon them; to understand and trust that they will act exactly as they are conditioned to act, from their own sense of self, not the sense of our self.

So we build homes on island beaches, ignoring the reality of nature’s hurricanes.  We blindly put our trust in corporations who act out of their own profit interest instead of our service needs, or in church leaders who molest children or embezzle donations.  We tell secrets to a known gossip, or try to change a spouse to fit our needs.  We expect God to provide us with a right life, and then continually put ourselves in harm’s way, risky ventures, or destructive actions.  And then we deem people, institutions and God as untrustworthy for not delivering a life that they never promised, for not meeting our expectations that they did not agree to.

We create our expectations.  When we take the time to genuinely walk in another’s shoes, to understand that being or thing fully from the inside, then our Trust can be properly placed.  For the Spiritual Person, Trust is anchored in Truth, not fantasies.  This is not a cynical Truth, but a demand upon us to take responsibility for our expectations of others.  Only when our Trust is well-founded can we live positive lives that can embrace without fear all the things that come to us, rather than shutting down, withdrawing, or being stuck in our angers from our disappointments.  Through Trust, the Spiritual Person does not live in phobic anxiety about all the presumed dangers waiting to befall, but lives confidently and openly knowing that all that comes to us is right in that moment – a rightness perhaps not apparent except in retrospect.

As with most all things for the Spiritual Person, Trust begins and focuses inside.  Trust is not a tool to control, manage or rate others.  Trust is a tool for enlightening ourselves, always grounded in the Truth of all things.

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