Spirituality is an often used word that needs clarifying: what do I mean with spirituality on the pages of this website?
For me, spirituality is only very loosely connected to religion. Religion is, in a way, the organised and dogmatic version of spirituality that comes from outside us to provide us with moral and behavioural guidelines.
Spirituality in my view comes from within; it resonates at the deepest levels of our essential being. Spirituality allows us to experiment, experience and practice with qualities like grace, faith, acceptance, forgiveness, healthy assertiveness and being comfortable living much of life in “the cloud of unknowing“. Spirituality for me provides strength, inspiration and motivation by teaching me how be content in this permanent state of uncertainty that is called ‘life’.
All religious and wisdom traditions of the world carry within their ranks such spirituality, which is mostly to be found among their mystics. In Buddhism it is most profoundly expressed in Zen, in Christianity it is to be found within the contemplative traditions, while in Islam it is sufism that explores the experiential and intimate relationship with self, the Divine, the world and all that is in it.
The simplest way to explain this type of spirituality is to be found in some of the writings of Gerald May. This psychiatrist distinguishes clearly between the dictates of ego and pride on the one hand as the forces of ‘wilfulness’ and the grace and strength of ‘willingness’ on the other.
Willingness implies a surrendering of one’s self-separateness, an entering into, an immersion in the deepest processes of life itself. It is a realization that one already is a part of some ultimate cosmic process and it is a commitment to participation in that process. In contrast, willfulness is the setting of oneself apart from the fundamental essence of life in an attempt to master, direct, control, or otherwise manipulate existence. More simply, willingness is saying yes to the mystery of being alive in each moment. Willfulness is saying no, or perhaps more commonly, ‘yes, but…’
But willingness and willfulness do not apply to specific things or situations. They reflect instead the underlying attitude one has toward the wonder of life itself. Willingness notices this wonder and bows in some kind of reverence to it. Willfulness forgets it, ignores it, or at its worse, actively tries to destroy it.
If this is a view of spirituality that resonates with you, then maybe you might want to see what type of counselling might be suitable for you.