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Spirituality for the Twenty-First Century
Moves us to the internal–
As the little Haiku poem reminds us, having an external, religious, practice shapes us as deeper seekers. We will desire more with whatever it is that we seek. That which led us to dogma, rituals, and other external practice will no longer satisfy and we will be drawn to interior practices, such as meditation, journaling, and sitting in silence with nature.
This is not new to the twenty-first century. It has been evident throughout history. We can her about it from all indigenous people, we can read about the mystics in the Christian faith, we can observe Buddhist, Hindu, and other meditative based faiths.
What is new in the twenty-first century, seems to be an increase in the numbers of people who are evolving past religious, external practice. We are all aware of the new category of believers, “spiritual, but not religious”. This does not indicate religion has no meaning. It continues to have meaning when we are at our earlier stages of development, or evolution. Religious rituals, teachings, and community all play a very important role in building our seeking “container”. The seeking container is a learned path that acknowledges there is something greater, something more than self. However, once this acceptance of some force, power, or urge greater than self has been established, there continues to be an increasing yearning for more. Words, dogma, rituals, are experienced as “not enough”.
Words, dogma and rituals do not now satisfy. They were very valuable in helping shape the “container”, however we now need something that will fill the container. We now yearn for interior feeding. It seems that may have been what Jesus of Nazareth was actually saying when he instituted the Christian practice of Eucharist. We are told that Jesus held up bread and wine and said “eat of me”. Jesus was saying, “fill the container, do the deep work within”.
Whether it is the words of Jesus, or words of other spiritual seekers down through the ages, it is clear we are called to evolve from religious to spiritual. It is also the shift from external worship to internal seeking that brings about personal transformation and evolves our consciousness.
The very hopeful thing coming about in the twenty-first century is the fact that greater and greater numbers of individuals are shifting to interior seeking. This is an indication that greater and greater numbers of individuals are evolving to a higher consciousness. And what will this higher consciousness mean? It will bring about an increased concentration on unity or interconnectedness of all creation. This then will translate as greater concern about environmental damage from pollution of air, soil, and water. It will also mean a decreased emphasis on war. War is the antithesis of unity and interconnectedness. Humanity is evolving past the legalistic, dualism that has dominated society for thousands of years!
Oh, there are some who will view this movement from religous to spiritual as egoic or narcissistic, but this would not be true if the seeker truly replaces religion with a number of spiritual practices and seriously pursues them daily. Of course one of the practices the seeker may still find meaningful is group worship. It is possible to evolve and still hold on to former practices. This approach is in entergral model where the “old” is absorbed into the “new”. However it is not necessary to continue with group worship to be evolving. The important call for all of humanity is to evolve our individual and collective consciousness so that the life of this planet may continue. It may be accomplished in purely interior practice or a combination of interior and exterior practice. The shift going on in the spirituality of the twenty-first century is the sheer numbers of people choosing to evolve and what this will mean for the good of all
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