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On Spirituality

I’ve been writing this post in my mind for quite some time but while I’ve had many thoughts about what I want to say I’ve had few answers to the questions that then arise. The thing that has triggered my decision to actually write it now is not a sudden insight or rush of answers; if you want a neat conclusion I would warn you to read elsewhere. No, what triggered this post is that I picked up a copy of A Course In Miracles with the intention and commitment to spend a year (or how long it takes) working through the exercises. I also thought it would be a good topic to write about over the year. And if I was going to do that I would have to address, somehow, the topic of spirituality.

I started A Course in Miracles once before (I don’t want to think about how long ago) and gave up because it was “too Christian in language”. In the time since then I haven’t embraced Christianity or any other religion and while I’m not going to try and say what A Course in Miracles is about at this end of the journey I am approaching it within the context of what I call my spirituality.

To give you a bit of a flavour of my inner world, over the last year I read both The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and Creation Spirituality by Matthew Fox. I loved both books and didn’t find they contradicted each other. Both in their own ways address the pathology of religion with Richard Dawkins distinctly diagnosing the patient and Matthew Fox looking to the cure. I have an engineering background and I do not question science’s eminence in figuring out the ‘what’s so’ of what’s out there. Being grounded in the scientific method I also don’t have any interest in belief or faith.

But I am aware that I have a spiritual self, a spirituality, and I feel that I have a duty and obligation to myself and the world to nurture this aspect of myself. One only has to follow the news for a while to conclude that there is something missing in our culture, that something is going wrong in how we humans are relating to ourselves, each other and the world. I think what’s missing is what religion in the past has provided (or attempted to provide) and that’s why the cure, which Matthew Fox is talking of, is required.

So what do I really mean by having a spiritual self or by spirituality? As I have alluded to it’s not something that can ever contradict science (not that I regard science as infallible but that’s another topic) and it’s also not something that requires belief or faith. Put simply it is my relationship to myself, to others and ultimately to everything. There is a ‘me’ who I have witnessed occasionally who deeply moves and inspires me. It’s the bringing forth of that me which I regard as spirituality. And it is only through the true self that authentic relationship is possible. I accept that it’s a path fraught with all the dangers that Richard Dawkins alerts us to and more; the egoic or false self is out to trip us up. But ultimately I think it is the only path worth following.

Which brings me back to A Course In Miracles. It starts very reassuringly with the words “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.” Which says to me, in the words of another of my champions, “Don’t Panic!”. Douglas Adams also posited in his essay “Is There an Artificial God” that maybe if there wasn’t a God we would have had to have made one up. I’m not searching for God or even Gods but I do accept that it’s a pitfall of the path that I may encounter one, or even more than one. If that happens I intend to take Mr Adams advice and firstly not panic. We’ll see what happens after that.