To achieve spiritual growth in a world defined by power, money, and influence may appear a Herculean task.
Modern conveniences such as electronic gadgets, television, and the web have predisposed us to confine our attention mostly to physical needs and wants. As a result, our concepts of self-worth and self-meaning are muddled. How can we strike a balance between the material and spiritual aspects of our lives?
1. To grow spiritually is to look inward.
Introspection goes beyond recalling things that happened in a day, week, or month. You need to look closely and reflect on your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and motivations. Periodically examining your experiences, decisions, relationships, and the things you engage in provide useful insights on your goals.
Moreover, it gives you clues on how to act, react, and conduct yourself in the midst of any situation. Like any skill, introspection can be learned. All it takes is the courage and willingness to seek the truth within you. While looking inward, remember to be objective, forgiving of yourself, and focus on your areas for improvement.
2. To grow spiritually is to develop your potential.
Religion and science have different views on the human spirit. Religion views people as spiritual beings temporarily living on Earth, while Science views the spirit as one dimension of an individual.
Self-mastery is a recurring theme in both Christian (Western) and Islamic (Eastern) teachings. The needs of the body take a second seat to the needs of the spirit. Beliefs, values, morality, rules, experiences, and good works provide the blueprint that ensure the growth of the spiritual being.
In Psychology, realizing one’s full potential leads to self-actualization. Maslow’s theory states that when basic physiological and emotional needs are satisfied, spiritual or existential needs come next.
There lies the difference between science and religion on the topic of self-development: Christianity and Islam see self-development a means toward serving God, while psychology views self-development as an end by itself.
3. To grow spiritually is to search for meaning.
Religions that believe in the existence of God such as Christianism, Judaism, and Islam suppose that the purpose of the human life is to serve the Creator of all things.
Several theories in psychology propose that we ultimately give meaning to our lives. We do not know the meaning of our lives at birth; but we gain knowledge and wisdom from our interactions with people and from our actions and reactions to situations.
As we discover this meaning, there are certain beliefs and values that we reject and affirm. Our lives have purpose. This purpose puts all our physical, emotional, and intellectual potentials into use. It sustains us during trying times and gives us something to look forward to and a goal to achieve. A person without purpose or meaning is like a drifting ship at sea.
4. To grow spiritually is to recognize interconnections.
Religions stress that we are all related to all creation, live and inanimate. Thus, we call other people “brothers and sisters” even if there are no direct blood relations. Moreover, deity-centered religions, such as Christianity and Islam, speak of the relationship between humans and a higher being.
On the other hand, science expounds on our link to other living things through the evolution theory. This relatedness is clearly seen in the concept of ecology, which is the interaction between living and non-living things.
Recognizing our connection to all things makes us more humble and respectful of people, animals, plants, and things in nature. It moves us to reach out to other people, and become stewards of all other things.
Growth is a process; thus, growth in spirit is a day-to-day encounter. We win some, we lose some, but the important thing is that we learn. From this knowledge, further spiritual growth is made possible.
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