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Evaluating Spirituality: How Do People Make Healthy Distinctions?

by Jacqueline Delibes

What makes a particular path or spiritual teacher trustworthy? And what are the tools that regular people use to make healthy distinctions when it comes to evaluating the part spirituality plays in their lives? That’s assuming you’re comfortable with the very idea of performing such an evaluation. Might the answer depend – in part – on how evolved and mature we are? (Oops, sorry, we’re all completely enlightened already!)

It’s truly spiritual – and what does that mean, anyway?

In the 1940’s, psychologist Abraham Maslow developed the Hierarchy of Needs, a theory stating that humanity has certain basic needs that must be met in a particular sequence in order for individuals to be able to become self-actualized. First, hunger and thirst must be sated, followed by safety needs like security and protection. Third are social needs, a sense of belonging and love, and then esteem needs. Once these four foundations of Maslow’s hierarchical pyramid are satisfied, self-actualization is possible.

Whether or not one adheres to Maslow’s theory, those of us with the money and leisure to pursue spiritual studies are indeed incredibly fortunate. By contrast, people living in the Third World without enough to eat on a daily basis don’t have the luxury to chase divine union. But does that mean the hungry are ultimately less "spiritual" than those in the developed world? And can we really become self-actualized if we fail to address such inequities? In other words, if we want to be able to declare "One World", shouldn’t everyone have their basic needs met to freely follow their soul’s path?

Maitreya’s Priorities

Consider for a moment the following proposition: Maitreya, a Teacher of enormous stature, is living in the world. He is waiting for the right moment to publicly declare himself as the one awaited by all the world’s religions, and as a teacher alike for those of no religion. According to British author and esotericist Benjamin Creme, who has been speaking about Maitreya’s emergence for over 30 years, Maitreya has defined certain vital priorities for humanity. From Mr. Creme’s book "The Great Approach":

"When the world’s stock markets crash, the priorities of all governments will change. The first priority will be the provision of adequate food for all the people; second, the provision of adequate housing; and third, the provision of adequate healthcare and education for all the people as a universal right.

"That does not sound terribly revolutionary: enough food, shelter, healthcare and education, which many people take for granted. But there is no country in the world in which all of these pertain as a universal right. When they do, life on this planet will be transformed."

Is it time to expand our definition of the word "spiritual" to move beyond what it conjures up for some of us in the new thought community; our own personal enlightenment?

Mr. Creme also writes in his book "Maitreya’s Mission Volume Three,"

"The religious path, as seen by the Masters, is only one of many paths to the demonstration of our innate divinity. God does not reside in the religion, although the religion might help you to realize that divinity. Every aspect of life – politics, economics, religion, art, culture, science, education – can be lived in such a way that what we call God can be known and expressed."

So, those of us who are not quite Buddha yet might be interested in exploring various options at our disposal for leading a spiritual life, whether recognized as such by others or not.

Evaluating who benefits from a spiritual path – personality or soul?

Consider this simplified premise: the soul of a human being is a spark of the divine and altruistic at its core. The human personality is primarily self-serving, and that’s self with a lower case "s". If each individual’s soul is trying to peep out and take hold of its respective personality vehicle, then it is this battle, this striving for supremacy of one over the other that prompts some of us to seek out a spiritual path or other fulfilling work.

If you’ll agree that your soul and personality are busy duking it out, and let’s pretend this takes place over many, many lifetimes, the objective is for the soul to win. When teachers and a body of teachings appear, we have to ask ourselves what their real value is. Do they appeal primarily to the selfishness of the small personality, or do they speak to the loving, service-oriented soul?

Noticing Resonance – Heart and Mind Together

Does a particular message feel genuine, is it delivered respectfully and does it truly resonate for you in both heart and mind? Or is the messenger stridently pushing an agenda and suggesting negative consequences if you don’t get on board? If a teacher has an open heart, shuns divisive ideologies and urges cooperation and sharing, what would your response be? On the other hand, what if he or she suggests doomsday scenarios that claim there is only One Path – and you aren’t on it?

So what resonates for you? If Maitreya’s concerns, briefly outlined here, strike a chord, then make it a priority to attend Benjamin Creme’s free public talk on July 25th at 2pm. It will be held at FIT-Haft Auditorium, Building C, 2nd Floor on 27th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues in New York City. For more information, call 212-665-9959.

Jacqueline Delibes is a volunteer with New York Emergence Group, a local branch of Share International, which is a worldwide network of people dedicated to making known the emergence of Maitreya, the World Teacher and the Masters of Wisdom. www.wakeupny.org

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