Living the examined life.
The mission of UU A Way of Life is to improve spiritual health, reduce immoral and sinful behavior, and work across systems for positive social change. Over the last several weeks, there have been several articles defining spiritual health, its components, and some activities which can enhance and improve those components. To date we have described six of these components and this article will provide a review before we go on to the remaining components.
The components of spiritual health which we have covered so far are: peace and joy, kindness, forgiveness, attunement with the non dualistic Oneness, Unconditional Love, and mindfulness. These components are not in any particular order. The components interact with one another in an oscillating way to invigorate and enhance one’s experience of an interior spiritual life.
Religion should nurture one’s spiritual life, but so often it doesn’t. Religion and spirituality can overlap somewhat in a venn diagram. Some people are religious but not spiritual, and some people are spiritual but not religious and some people are, to some extent, both. The idea that religion inherently nurtures spirituality is mistaken as well as the idea that spirituality enhances religious belief.
Spirituality is about experience and not about belief. As Francis David, the Unitarian pioneer, said, “We need not think alike to love alike.” The Beatles had a song with a lyric which said, “Love is all there is.” The fundamental component of spiritual health is Unconditional Love and Unconditional Love comes from forgiveness which is the activity of giving up making other people and circumstances responsible for one’s unhappiness. Forgiveness comes from mindfulness which is an awareness of one’s attunement with the non dualistic Oneness and the indicator of this attunement is kindness. When one is kind, one experiences peace and joy.
As with our physical health, it is helpful to find a spiritual director with whom to do a check up. The components can be thought of as being present in a person’s life 100% of the time, 50% or the time, or 0% of the time. Pick a time frame, for example, over the last six months, and give the component a rating from 0 - 10 in terms of its presence in your life. Once you have given yourself a rating, consider how you might increase that component in your life in the coming six months.
Spiritual health takes deliberate practice which involves daily review and reflection. As Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” To what extent have you been living an examined life? Would living an examined life be helpful in enhancing your spiritual health?
It is part of our faith here at UU A Way Of Life that living an examined life is the best life to live.