Saturday, December 31, 2011

Seven Virtues of a Spiritual Life - Wisdom

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.

The truly Spiritual Person is not defined by the clothes and accessories she may wear.  She is not proven by her quoting of spiritual texts.  The Spiritual Person is not qualified by the certificates on her wall or the number of workshop receipts in her desk drawer.  The truly Spiritual Person may look very different from others or live in a special enclosure; or she may look like everyone else, undistinguishable in appearance, living among us out of the spiritual spotlight.

Yet when we encounter a Spiritual Person, we somehow just know that we are in a special presence.  We sense in that person all of those spiritual virtues discussed previously - Patience, Lovingkindness, Forgiveness, Humility, Commitment, and Trust.  But we sense them not as separate distinguishable qualities, but as somehow all blended together into a larger whole.  Each virtue interacts and melds with each other, informing and shaping and expanding, smoothing the edges and sharpening the content.  All so effortlessly, naturally, without effort, without pretense.  They are “just there” because they are all fully genuine.

In their sum, yet another virute emerges – Wisdom.  The Spiritual Person knows that ultimately it is in Wisdom that we most closely approach our godliness, and it is Wisdom that we are here on earth to develop.  Wisdom is not a “smart.”  It is a knowing derived from thoughts, moving to action, generating reflection, interpreting to learning, repeated in a continuous cycle in every moment.  Learning feeds the Seven Virtues of the Spiritual Person; the Seven Virtues nurture and give life to the Spiritual Person.

The Wisdom of the Spiritual Person is shared, not held jealously within.  This Wisdom is not loud, not pushed out to where it is not welcomed, not overbearing.  It is given when asked, a gift given freely and lovingly, selective to be exactly right for only this person in that particular moment.  Once given, it is turned loose, left to flower or wither in the recipient’s own spiritual soil as appropriate.

In the Spiritual Person, Wisdom is easily recognizable.  It speaks from a depth and breadth of experience and understanding; it is not shallow, superficial, cursory or flippant.  This Wisdom is consistent, oblivious to current time and fashionable circumstances, yet always thoughtfully growing, never completed.  This Wisdom is always mindful of its consequences and impact, spoken fully in this moment but drawn from a lifetime of continual learning.  This Wisdom is at the core of the truly Spiritual Person.

The Spiritual Person is potentially each of us.  We have only to listen to our Wisdom and let it grow in every moment, intertwined with all of the other Virtues.  We let these Virtues grow until they envelop our every thought, our every word, our every action, in every circumstance, inclusive towards all people.

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