|Spiritual life in the clamour of the world
We live in a world of duality: life and death; love and hate; dark and light; kindness and abuse, to name but a few of the contrasts. Life is all about contrasts and we have come to believe that we can only recognize one end of a spectrum if we are aware of the other. People often say that the bad helps us to recognize the good, or the dislike helps us to see the love. But that seems like a strange world to me - that we have to have negativity to recognize the positive, because surely we're more intelligent and sensitive than that would imply.
The circular nature of life
The world is constantly changing but, have you noticed how many things come round again and again? The world we inhabit temporarily is circular in nature, not only in its shape, but in the way everything happens. When I worked in the Health Service, when new staff joined with their 'new' ideas, they would be told that the same idea had already been tried without success but they doggedly carried it through to its inevitable failure. And this happens in so many arenas.
Similarly, in a global sense, the same issues keep arising century by century, in slightly different forms but with more or less the same outcome. Emotionally, people behave in much the same way as they have since history was first recorded - jealousy, envy, hatred, love, neediness, bitterness, and so forth. It's only our inventions and physical developments over the years - the new technologies of the various ages - that make them seem different. In effect, as A Course in Miracles indicates, the world is just spinning its wheels.
Throughout history, the bulk of the populations in each country have been ruled by governments who have been anything in the spectrum from oppressive and violent to firm and reasonably fair. I don't believe any government has ever been totally devoted to the best interests of the people it serves. Basically, this is because we are all flawed as humans and so politicians in the main are self-serving above almost everything else. I am not aware of any politician who has been altruistic or anywhere close; there has always been a hidden agenda.
We elect governments on the basis that we choose who we want to govern us but, in fact, whatever they may say at election time, we can be sure that few promises they make will be honoured - and they've always got a reason for why that is. We are, therefore, all trying to live in a society where government controls the overall running of the country and all the decisions it makes are detrimental to a very large proportion of the population at different times. It is, quite simply, unworkable, but there seems to be no alternative.
This serves to keep us busy like hamsters on a wheel where most of us are trying to earn enough to keep body and soul together and a small number have the talent for making money seemingly without trying although, in reality, they are using their brains to do this in a way for which most people don't tend to have the talent. Many, however, do give to charity as a way of celebrating their good fortune - and catching a tax break.
The distractions from the spiritual
So, in this world of duality with all that it brings to us, how are we to blend our spiritual aspirations with the physical imperatives that we are powerless to control. And the word 'control' is a pivotal part of this challenge which I will return to.
Although we are only here for a short time in the grand order of things, we obviously need to enjoy it as much as we can. This is proving challenging for many of us. Leaving aside the 'hamster wheel' mentality which has been written about in so many forms over the years, we perhaps need to examine what it is that we find to enjoy.
Acquisition is certainly high on the list of priorities as an ongoing activity and the reason is that we can never be satisfied no matter how much we buy. A lot of what we buy has a very short-lived attraction for us. Clothes are bought and discarded in a few weeks, months or years to be replaced by more clothes that are similarly treated. Cars are traded in on a fairly short, regular cycle quite often. New technological gadgets are superseded and advertising is so powerful that many of us are persuaded to keep getting the newest updates. In fact, technological 'stuff' in general - which includes household appliances, extra gadgets for vehicles and anything that we use for a purpose - is now constantly being superseded at an alarming rate.
Advertising permeates every aspect of the media and our public spaces, and seems to be a powerful stimulus for acquisition, although I get the feeling that it is beginning to lose its motivational advantage because people are becoming exhausted by its constant presence, especially when money is becoming tight for many.
Seeking more and more extreme ways of entertaining ourselves is a trend that has been growing for a little while. But, of course, once we've experienced one extreme activity, human nature spurs us to find whatever else is on offer that is even more extreme. Again, ultimate satisfaction is always out of reach.
And peer pressure in all levels and age groups in society is ever-present. It is no longer about teenagers and those in their early twenties competing with one another in activities and acquisition, but can extend to all age groups.
Blending the spiritual with the physical world
The clamour and noise of the world makes it so difficult to think in terms of our spiritual development and making any kind of conscious connection to Spirit. We are always unconsciously connected to Spirit because that can never be broken, even though most of us frequently believe that Great Spirit's love has conditions. Others believe they are forgotten by Great Spirit because we have forgotten about our permanent unconscious connection; this could not be further from the truth. And despite our current beliefs, Great Spirit is still watching over us and waiting for us to return to Heaven.
It only takes a moment to have this thought in amongst all the busyness of everyday life. If you want to start to look at the powerful spirit you are then this is a good place to begin. Remembering that everything in this world pales into insignificance when compared with our real home in Heaven where we are loved without conditions is only a momentary thought but one that is so powerful if you simply remember it once every day when you wake up. And it is highly likely that after a month or so of doing this, you will want to expand your knowledge.
What we truly are
When I say that we are powerful spirits, of course, this is not in the same sense as power in this world where it implies control. The power in Heaven comes from relinquishing power to Great Spirit so that we can be free to be our True Selves. In this world, such a paradigm is considered foolish and unrealistic because having power over one another is how we assess our worth. Because this world is so puny in everything it tries to be and to achieve, we have no concept of mildness being strength. But, in fact, if we truly believe in this, it can be just as effective in this world.
As spirits, we are powerful because in Heaven we have no need of control, judgement or forgiveness; we just are. As The Course says, 'Holy am I, eternal, free and whole, at peace forever in the Heart of God'. In this world, many of us constantly feel the need to prove ourselves in one way or another, but in Spirit this is irrelevant. We simply are powerful and loving spirits.
Nothing in this world is spiritual; it is simply a place to learn the lessons we have chosen and to become consciously aware of the spiritual beings we really are. If we start to explore our spiritual nature while we are here we realize that our bodies are irrelevant because the mind is the essential aspect of us. The body has a limited time-span, ageing and weakening into old age, reduced to bones or ashes, sometimes in quite a short time.
We can enjoy improving the body's fitness and shape, dressing it to conform to social ideas or to shock society, to produce offspring and for all the other activities we engage in, but the mind is what we really need to be focusing on. Not even the brain is important because it is simply part of the body; when we pass over to Spirit, the mind is the only thing that survives. In our spirit form, we are minds and nothing else - but those minds are more powerful than we can imagine.
So training our minds while we are in this dimension to remember the lessons of non-judgement and forgiveness is the major part of our purpose here. Everything else is just varying bits of nonsense really.
Nobody has to give up anything in this world in order to consciously become aware of their spiritual side or to explore what they can do to develop it. But you will find that, as you think about it and learn more about it, you will probably want to adjust the way you live in the world - but you will do it because you want to, not because someone tells you to. It will be your decision which you will take gladly and enjoy the peace that it brings you. It is a peace that you can experience as if you are in the eye of the storm of the clamour of life at any time you wish.
Peace is all most of us want: the cessation of the constant negative chatter in your mind; the need to do things for people rather than against them; the absence of fear; the love of those who will be drawn to you because of your attitude to life. Effort is required to reach this point but then nothing worth having is very satisfying when you achieve it unless you've put in at least a little effort. And the achievement of that blissful state of peace can give you a greater high than any extreme sport, attainment of qualifications, promotion at work, or any other worldly achievement. It is literally out of this world because it is incomparable in this world.