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How to be Spiritual Amidst this Chaos

by Dr. Stewart Bitkoff


Circumstances have overtaken man.His old languages are not sufficient to describe what is happening, and what isabout to happen. To think in terms of a millennium or such tame concepts as‘the eleventh hour’ is ridiculous. Better that he should realize that he is inan era which might be more accurately described as the ‘eighth day of theweek.”

 -Idries Shah

 For thespiritual traveler, we are living in a complex and unique age; one oftremendous upheaval and great opportunity to solve problems. Turn on thetelevision set and listen to the reports coming in from all across the world:religious wars, effects of global warming, famine, new strains of disease, drugwars, over weight children, advances in technology and people beginning to worktogether to solve problems of housing, job loss, and keeping their familytogether.  This combination of factorshas been called the ‘eighth day of the week’ and the beginning of a new era; clearly,until many of these problems are resolved, if that is possible, the amount of unsettledness,fear, anxiety and personal worry for many will continue to grow. 

Forincreasing numbers of people, the personal balancing factor to this stress and chaos,is spiritual development. It must be added to the mix and used with our othercapacities to find solutions. Higher knowledge will not replace common sense,experience, hard work, or economic imperative. That is not its function.  It isan added capacity which integrates and works alongside others.

The presentdiscussion will examine some basic thoughts about being spiritual; and howspiritual capacity can help the traveler deal with this period of chaos andchange.

What Does It Mean To Be Spiritual?

What doesthe term spiritual mean?  Spiritual isnot an easy word to define, because there is an experiential aspect to it, withmany levels and dimensions.  Sort of likelove, which is a sublime experience and occurs in many forms; poets and songwriters proclaim its virtues and sorrows, yet, no matter how fine the words,they are only an approximation.

Typicaldefinitions include phrases such as: spiritualmeans of the spirit. This type of definition: defines itself using the sameword, yet, surprisingly is reasonably accurate. Spiritual does mean of the spirit.

For thespiritual traveler, the soul is comprised of a spiritual energy fabric; thisspiritual energy fabric is the source of life and powers our body, 5 senses,emotions and consciousness.  To the soul,there is a higher and lower aspect which corresponds to different parts of our functioning(physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual); to further complicate, in somediscussions soul/spirit are used interchangeably.

  • The goal of spiritual paths, or being spiritual, is to add a measure of conscious spiritual awareness to the traveler’s individual life and day; this knowledge or awareness serves as an enriching, enabling element, so the traveler can complete daily & higher functions.
  • For the most part, every day activity, work, and worry block the inner (spiritual) awareness from coming forward.
  • All life operates through consciousness, which is awareness and energy on multiple physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels.  Through our soul, which is comprised of this spiritual energy fabric, we create our multiple levels of reality, every moment of the day.
  • Each one of us is a creator of reality.  We are souls that have taken on a physical form to create our lives and participate in the higher design.  In order to do this, we must follow a spiritual path and lead a balanced life.
  • A full life is a life where we express all the parts of self and participate in something higher.
  • Increased spiritual capacity helps the traveler know what is going on around them; this knowledge helps them on a daily basis.

Characteristics of a Spiritual Person

Another wayto help define spiritual is to examine personality traits of spiritualpeople.  These characteristics help usget a better understanding of what it means to be spiritual in daily life, however,there are problems here as well; while these traits are accurate, also, they canbe said to exist in non-spiritual people:

  • Spiritual people have a sense of humor and are not ‘stuffy old farts’- and enjoy laughing;
  • Spiritual people are involved in their community and may work/raise a family;
  • Spiritual people seek to help others as much as themselves;
  • they are free with their time and energy- volunteer their efforts;
  • a spiritual person demonstrates continual striving to get better;
  • a spiritual person lives by their conscience;
  • they try to live a life that is free of expectation and comparison to others;
  • they try to look at different issues from a broad framework and entertain/respect the ideas of others;
  • they are not on a power trip or trying to control the ideas/lives of others;
  • Spiritual values are long held and they are genuinely humble.

While thespiritual traveler acknowledges problems in definition and realizes they areseeking an illusive essence, there is another part of the consciousness thatoffers: ‘do not worry- you will know it, when you find it.’  Like love- spiritual defines itself and byadding this capacity to your life, you life will be fuller, more complete andyou will be better able to face life’s ups and downs. 

Routine Change or the End?

Through increasedinformation that is available via television and the internet, the averageperson viewing the unrest in our world cannot help but wonder: what is goingon? Conversely, scientists and philosophers tell us, chaos and order are simplyopposite ends of a continuum. Both are natural to life and necessary to thephysical order. And so the spiritual traveler wonders: is this era simply aroutine period of unrest- soon to be followed by a period of relativecalm? 

Considerthe following themes and ideas, and how each contributes to our fear and growinganxiety level.  Each of which can befound either in your religious/spiritual belief system or on your localtelevision programs, nightly and weekly.

·        Manyreligious/spiritual paths discuss a destruction/ending of sorts- of which many scenariosseem to coincide with this time period. Is this the end of the world?  Also, current scientifically based televisionshows describe ‘end of world’ natural disasters, questioning: will the worldshift on its access?  Will a large meteorhit the earth?  Through global warming,will we send the earth into another ice-age? When will the next super volcano erupt? Often these shows includeprophetic references: are these events the earth changes that Cayce and otherprophets have described?

·        Somebelief systems hold that previously there have been 4 destructions of the earth.The Mayan Calendar ends in year 2012; according to Sufi Tradition, the Streamof Life has died-up and will be replaced with the new Stream of Life.  Destruction and rebirth- natural cycles thathave occurred many times?

·        Recently,across the world, there has been a failure of government and large corporationsto solve economic problems and timely react to natural disasters; also, for theaverage person, these institutions appear to have been at the center of many ofthe ills that affect us.  As a result, gradually,many are turning away from reliance upon authoritarian based models to individualbased structures.  Slowly, we are collectivelyrealizing that governments/corporations/religion alone cannot save us; we mustall work to make the world better and begin this effort with ourselves. 

·        Morepeople are solving problems locally and gradually realizing that the world ismade better one person at a time; this is the person centered approach.  Additionally, there is growing interest inspiritual paths that emphasize personal development.  Better individuals make a better world.

·        Personal,Corporate, and Governmental Greed, along with Religious Fanaticism increasinglyare threats to our way of life.

·        Honoringthe Earth Mother or destruction of the environment; how will it end?  Will we pull together or destroy the planet?

·        Informationexplosion: boon or curse?  How ‘others’manipulate us.

Understanding Emotion: Love and Fear

By nature,we are emotional and our reactions to life, through multiple feelingscontribute to a richer, full experience. When something happens in daily lifethat is painful we all have a reaction to it. We are multi-level beings and our emotions bring us both great joy andsadness. That is the way we are hardwired and for good health, must honor ourfeelings.

One model,suggests that all emotions arise from the 2 basic feelings of love and fear.  According to Frank Sant’Agata,all emotions can be traced back to these primary feelings.

“Love and fear are the only emotionswe as human entities are able to express. All the others are just sub-categorical emotions.  For example, on love’s side there is joy,peacefulness, happiness, forgiveness, and a host of others.  On the other hand, fear reflects: hate,depression, guilt, inadequacy, discontentment, prejudice, anger, attack, and soon.

Love and fear can not coexist. Whereone is, the other can’t be also.  The onewill leave immediately, should the other enter its presence.  If you find yourself in a situation where youare experiencing great joy, and are suddenly overtaken by fear, the joy isgone! But it works the other way too: If you are terrorized, frightened, orotherwise threatened in any way, all you need to do is turn to the love withinand the fears disappears.”

Next timeyou are watching TV Talk Shows and the Host is trying to convince you ofsomething, evaluate their presentation using the following criteria: is this amanipulation of the fear and reward stick. Do as I say- good things will happen; if not, bad things willhappen.  Most often, the media, politicians, some forms of religion, andcorporations continually use this manipulation.  Unless you see the manipulation- it is verydifficult to understand and disarm, particularly, when you are up against aformidable societal power structure.

From aspiritual standpoint, we want to become masters of our emotions, so we can temporarily get beyond them.  When we are emotionally charged, most often,the quiet, spiritual part of ourselves will not come forward.  It will not operate under these conditions.

Daily Practices to Counter Fear

OK, so nowthat you have me totally paranoid, and frightened about the end of the world,what am I supposed to do about all of this? Here are a few suggestions, from my personal tool box on life, to helpyou conquer your fear reaction, and more easily access that quiet part of yourselfwhich is more peaceful and serene.                                

  • Honor your Fear.  Express it in healthy ways- pray, kiss your children, and be grateful for what you have. Ask the Universe/God to help you go beyond your fear and live a full life.  Offer up a prayer of gratitude/thankfulness for what you do have and not what will be taken; turn to love and gratefulness. Ordinarily, the mind is so constructed it can only keep one thought in it at a time.
  • Scenarios of the world ending are just that. Scenarios or potentials. Unless we collectively change and live according to the Golden Rule this is one potential.  Remember, you can only control yourself and work to make your world/life better.
  • Lead a full Life. Participate in the world; try to make it a better place. Travel to the different parts of yourself and follow one of the great spiritual paths to completion.
  • Live in the moment. All you have is this moment; try to make it work and be joyous for you.
  • Happiness Calendar. Every day do something small that makes you happy. Laugh, tell a joke; make a telephone call to your friends. Research tells us that happy people have many small things they look forward to each day.
  • NEWS Vacation. Take a vacation from your computer, the television set and reportage of the bad things on the NEWS.  Sit quietly or go for a walk; try to listen to that quiet part of yourself that knows where it is going.
  • Pray.  Make each moment a celebration to life and offer up a song of gratitude for the opportunity to be here.
  • Think Happy Thoughts. And when you find yourself becoming sad, angry, confused, remember, that from confusion comes order.  One moment we are happy and the next sad.  We have the capacity to create our own reality, and a happy traveler thinks happy thoughts. Tell jokes, laugh, or watch a funny movie.
  • Avoid making comparisons between yourself and others; particularly what they have and you do not have.
  • Monitor your expectations about life and people. Often, expectations are a trap that robs us of our happiness and peace of mind (i.e., I expected by this point in my life . . .  Or if I followed this spiritual path, I would be free of pain).
  • Life can be glorious, but remember it’s a full-contact sport.  Chaos and order co-exist and are part of the Cosmic Plan.
  • Be With Positive People.  Be selective with the people you hang around and what they speak/talk about. Positive/loving people are good medicine
  • Avoid Alcohol/Recreational Drugs. Most are depressants and can affect your mood.
  • Balanced Living. All things in moderation and strive to lead a complete, multi-level balanced life.
  • Replaying Old Tapes.  Avoid going over and over, troubling things that have happened.  Some of this is necessary, but most often, we replay it too much.

Conclusions:

And themore we practice controlling our consciousness and awareness, and seeing thefear/reward manipulation about us, the easier it will become to think moretranquil thoughts.  Then, one day we willexperience what lies beyond emotions; and the higher consciousness will emerge.

Often formany events in life, we cannot control harmful outcomes; when something painfulor chaotic occurs, we must feel and honor the pain.  Yet, experience teaches with a little hardwork, we can limit fear and worry about potentials; all of us must learn toseparate out what is a possibility, and learn to use the tools in our personal toolbox to move past potentials and reach happier, more tranquil states. 

In 1969, itwas during a BBC interview that Mrs. Beryl Worth, when questioned about herpositive personal adjustment, to a recent potentially fatal diagnosis ofcancer, answered in the following way.

‘I think it was St. Ignatius who wassweeping the corridor and his novices came and said to him, ‘If the world, ifyou knew the world were going to come to an end in 10 minutes, what would youdo?  And he said, ‘Go on sweeping thecorridor.” And that is just what I’m going to do.”

In everymoment, life is ending and beginning; life is joy and pain, chaos and peace.  With every moment, after we have experiencedwhat we need to experience; we must learn and remember to go on doing our work,and ‘continue sweeping the corridor.’

Check outmy new book on Amazon: The AppleseedJournalBuy on Amazon: www.bit.ly/amazonappleseed


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