Years ago I was sitting in the basement of a large unfinished home taking lunch with my then supervisor, Ken. I enjoyed working with him and I admired his approach to life. In a world of false pretense his attitude of conviction and faith stood out; he truly seemed to stand by and practice what he believed. Often the conversation would drift towards our belief systems and it was mutually pleasant. An outsider might think we had a lot of differences, but in truth we shared a passion to learn from each other. When he talked I listened; when I talked he listened. I enjoyed his company immensely and all these years later I still think of him quite often.
This day was different from most. It was a little more peaceful, a little more relaxed. The incessant chatter of my selfish mind ceased and I tuned in. The moment surprised me because I had no forethought to what I was about to say. There was a lull in our discussion and I was moved to pay my friend a complement.
“Ken, I think you’re a really spiritual guy.”
“I think you are too, Daniel,” he said returning the observation with a large smile between bites.
“You know what I think the difference between spiritual and religious is?”
“What’s that?” He said.
“Well, it seems that spiritual people have an intense desire to share with those willing to listen what’s working in their lives, while religious people have a need to argue with as many as possible what isn’t working in the lives of others.”
It was as if the entire universe leaned over and whispered in my ear.
I was thunderstruck. Where did THAT come from? One other time there had been a voice from the ether, but that was before I’d gone into recovery. This was unique, it wasn’t quite a voice I heard: it was more like something flowed through me. The energy of the cosmos had aligned with me: or perhaps I with it. In any case, it changed me. For those who have experienced epiphanies, you know what I mean.
Honestly, I have nothing against religion. I feel it is a wonderful place to begin a path of spirituality and it’s probably difficult to do so without it. I doubt a spiritual leader ever lived that had little to no background in some sort of existing faith. If my observations are correct, the more religious a person is who is in tune with a connection to spirit, the more personal the relationship with God is for them. Those who inspire leadership shine by example. They enthusiastically share, (not preach) taking care to never judge others or belittle them. When the framework of religion is used as a whipping post for those who do not agree with the views of their accusers it becomes the ultimate example of arrogance, ridicule, and eventually, violence. “You are wrong, I am right. You are bad, I am good, and here are my reasons for reinforcing my convictions by pointing out what I think you need to change.” Yuck. Makes me ill just re-reading that last sentence. Here lies the seed of worldwide conflict. Here is where hate is born. Here is where fear and persecution prevails. Here is where the destruction of our world will begin; in fact, it may have already.
As a child I was taught that “leading by example” was the best way to show others a better path or system. I thought the reasoning was absurd at the time. Such is the youthful mind. I now see it’s the only way to teach. If I really want to share, then I must possess and express an abundance of what others want. Only then, when I’m approached by those who feel they lack what I have, am I free to give. I never will shove onto others what I think they need. It’s always up to them to be accepting. This is why when I attempt to “lead by example” I MUST live what I believe so that others can see cause and effect in action. When this is done well there’s no need to recruit anyone; they will approach and ask how they can reproduce the same results, they will wonder what the hell is in my gas tank.
Personally, I love those who share, even if they are facing a different direction. Magnetic personalities are wired to the qualities of love, compassion, and humility; enviable traits to be sure. It’s hard to not like these people, we want to be in their vicinity, instinctively knowing that their influence by presence alone can help us align with pure spirit. If however, we meet those people who are in the mode of arguing (or judging) then this acts as a repellent, at least for me. They express doubt, disrespect, and conceit. I pay them as little audience as possible, polity backing away while they look around for fresh prey.
If you are having a difficult time connecting to spirit, I can help with a little experiment I heard Wayne Dyer do with an audience some time ago.
Point to your self…….aw, go on, no one is looking.
One hundred per-cent of people, every culture, every ethnicity, every age does the same thing.
They point to their heart………
No one points to their head. No one. Even though we understand every body function is regulated from this place, we have an awareness there’s something else behind who we are. Our brains are the software, and the body is the hardware, but neither one is the user. Again we come to the difference between religion and spirit. None among us have exactly the same religious beliefs. Not only do doctrines vary widely, but so do opinions within those doctrines. Spirit however, remains constant because its source is identical to everyone else’s, its “seat” shares the same space.
Our connection to the universe is constant and cannot be shut off. It can, however, be ignored, but I do not recommend this course. A lifetime of pleasing the body but not the spirit leads to indulgence and misery. Please do not deny your true self the nourishment it craves. If we feed it what it wants most, recognition, attention, and expression, our lives will embrace peace, joy, and love.
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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood