Saturday, July 13, 2013

Experience As Teacher

We Americans are a people infused with curiosity.  And usually also very short of patience.  These traits lead us to continually wanting to know more, but also wanting to learn that new thing as quickly as possible.  With no mistakes made along the way.  And the way we are taught to learn – starting in early childhood through beginning adulthood – is very specific: sit quietly and attentively at a desk; listen to someone in authority tell you what you supposedly need to know; then read more about the topic in a book written by another “expert.”  Thanks to all that knowledge pouring in, you then know what there is to know.  Your brain is now full and properly trained.

We take essentially the same approach with our personal efforts in spirituality.  In our desire to be more spiritual, or to live a more spiritual life, we turn to teachers – a priest, rabbi, minister or imam – for instruction and spiritual knowledge.  To answer for us What is spiritual Truth and How do we achieve it?  We read books one after another, whether paperbound, e-books  or audio tapes.  We go to special workshops to hear featured lecturers, whether in-person, in videos, or on Webcasts.  We sometimes even echo the marketing lingo – “this (book, speaker) changed my life!”  The brain becomes saturated with all this information.  But yet we are not satiated.  We somehow do not feel as though we are “there” yet.  So we read one more book; we listen to one more speaker.  We think even harder about all that we have heard and read, yet our search continues.

Books are a wonderful thing.  I have many of them.  A truly inspirational speaker projecting love, wisdom and truth can impact us greatly, inspire us forward in our spiritual journey.  As a spiritual writer and teacher, I hope that I am contributing something worthwhile to someone’s spiritual journey, however small a part.  But in truth, is all of this continual searching, jumping from one resource to another, helping us find what is actually right in front of us?  Our brains feel full.  But what about our hearts, and our souls?

True spirituality is not a way of thinking.  It is a way of being.  The brain may sometimes open some spiritual doors for us.  But it is in the body and the heart, moving into everyday action, that our soul finds its spiritual home.  It is when we leave the spiritual classroom, and begin to live the spiritual truths, that we find our spiritual place.  We put the brain aside, because if we continue to try to feed it, we find its appetite unquenchable.  Instead, we must leave the comfortable familiarity of the books, and the teachers, and live God’s truth in the world all around us.

They are simple Truths.  Be kind to one another.  Be kind to yourself.  Protect and care for all that God has provided to us.  Revel in the natural overwhelming beauty that so completely surrounds us everywhere.  And just love God.

In the end, it is not about arguing dogma, rationalizing the logic of the brain, observing religious rituals.  Those are just tools, not targets.  It is simply learning the spiritual lessons from living the simple spiritual life.  We will never find our spirituality in our minds.  We will only find it in the awe and embrace of the unquestioning heart that sees and accepts the majesty that envelops us.  Hence Jesus’ challenge: to be reborn spiritually so as to see the world as from the innocent, trusting, and believing eyes of a child.  God, the most complex entity that exists, is just that simple.  We can only know that by our experience of it.

“I hear and I forget.  I see and I remember.  I do and I understand.”      (Confucius)

©2013   Randy Bell