Tag Archives: spiritual

ESCAPING YOUR PERSONAL HELL

EXISTENTIAL EMPTINESS

ESCAPING YOUR PERSONAL HELL
ESCAPING YOUR PERSONAL HELL

We still feel our desire to make a positive difference to others (because of our capacity for empathy and conscience) even if we don’t acknowledge or act on it. Similarly, we still feel a desire for the transcendent and spiritual (because of the five transcendental desires and our awareness of the spiritual) even if we refuse to believe in the transcendent.

These unfulfilled desires have a curious consequence—they make us feel empty.

We not only miss the satisfactions of contribution, love, transcendence, and spiritual life, but our self-consciousness comprehends that we are only fulfilling part of ourselves. “Existential emptiness” refers to this complex of self-alienation and self-negation.

Thus, if we are to overcome dominant Level One and Level Two identity, we will have to replace it with dominant Level Three and Level Four identity.

 Many of us will try to block it out by increasing our pursuit of Level One and Level Two desires. “If two scotches won’t make me feel better, perhaps five will.” “I feel a sudden need to have another twenty pairs of shoes and three Armani purses.” I am going to take a big risk and leave the town in which my family is most comfortable, to take an even more prestigious job.”

They truly manifest Augustine’s recognition of his own journey to God—“Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”

The need to cover over our sense of emptiness, guilt, and tragedy becomes more and more acute, and we take greater risks—more alcohol, more drugs, more base pursuits on the Internet, more ego highs, more accumulation of possessions, more exaggerated claims about accomplishments, and even ethically questionable behaviors to keep the upward momentum going.

This leads to either the positive one (to move toward dominant Levels Three and Four) or the truly negative one (sinking into a sea of emptiness, depression, and despair).

What happens if we take the “low road”? It manifests itself somewhat gradually. We find ourselves wanting to sleep more, watch more television, play more games on the Internet, spend more time at the club, and so forth. We always have a justification for this: “Sleep is restorative.” “That movie is a real classic, and by watching it for the fifth time it will really give me a new perspective on life.” “The Internet games are helping my mental agility.”

 The depression is turning into despair, and if it is not treated, it could become tragic.

ESCAPING YOUR PERSONAL HELL

ESCAPING YOUR PERSONAL HELL
ESCAPING YOUR PERSONAL HELL

We will look at “Level Three replacement therapy”

Some people will feel more naturally inclined to pursue Level Three methods first, and then Level Four, while others (like myself) are more naturally inclined to pursue Level Four methods first, and then back into Level Three methods. I would submit that both Level Three and Level Four are essential for moving out of a dominant Level One-Two identity.

Alternatively, if Level Four is unaccompanied by Level Three, then it can lead to a superficial faith that does not seek to make a contribution to people, the common good, and the culture—it is a faith without charitable love (agapē). Moreover, Level Three contribution and love reinforces Level Four faith, while the grace of Level Four faith reinforces Level Three contribution and love.

Our dominant view of happiness determines what we are looking for, and this in turn determines what we are living for (our life’s purpose), and when we live for a particular purpose long enough, it becomes our identity (the definition we give to ourselves).

It is important to find a path to Levels Three and Four before they hit “rock bottom”.

A THREE-STEP PROCESS FOR TRANSFORMING

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CARE OF THE SOUL

Materialistic life can be so absorbing that we get caught in it and we forget about spirituality. Many don’t believe in the soul and therefore many don’t give it any place in the hierarchy of values. What we need is soul in the middle holding together mind and body. A spiritual life of some kind is absolutely necessary for psychological ”health”.

CARE OF THE SOUL

Psychology is a secular science while care of the soul is a sacred art. We separate psychology and religion, therapy and spiritual practice. Psychology and spirituality need to be seen as one. Psychology is incomplete if it doesn’t include spirituality in a fully integrated way. When the soul is neglected, our problem doesn’t just go away; it appears symptomatically in obsessions, addictions, violence and loss of meaning.

The emotional complaints of our time that are heard by therapist: 

  • Emptiness
  • Meaninglessness
  • Vague Depression
  • Disillusion about marriage, family and relationship
  • Loss of values
  • Yearning for personal fulfillment
  • A hunger for spirituality

OUR QUEST

All these symptoms reflect a loss of soul and let us know what the soul craves. We cannot solve our “emotional” problems until we grasp the mystery that honors the Divine.

We yearn excessively for entertainment, power, intimacy, sexual fulfillment, and material things. We think we can find these things if we discover the right relationship or job or therapy. We strive to attain alluring satisfaction in great masses, thinking that quantity will make up for lack of quality.

Yet, without soul, whatever we find will be unsatisfying. What we truly long for is the soul in each of these areas. Soul doesn’t pour into our lives automatically. It requires our skill and attention.

We cannot care for the soul unless we are familiar with its ways. We need to make the necessary changes revealed by depression and anxiety. These problems make it felt because the soul needs attention.

care of the soul

ILLNESS AND HEALING

Doctors are learning that there is an actual correlation between psychological experience and physical ailments. For example, one’s colon is unhappy. Doctors know that there is a relationship between repressed anger and colitis. If cancer cell growth has gone berserk, is there something that has been disordered?

The word, “disease or dis-ease” says it all. It means without ease and disease emanates from stress. Disturbances created from marriage and family can be more stressful to the soul than conditions of work.

Modern medicine is hell-bent on cure and has no interest in anything about the soul. Maybe our lives are too secular and in need of such a visitation through the soul. Do we know what can be speaking silently to us in our body? “Recognize what is before your eyes, and what is hidden will be revealed to you.”    Gospel of Thomas Continue reading CARE OF THE SOUL

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FAITH AND SOCIALISM

SOCIAL JUSTICE: THE CHURCH’S CALL TO ACTION

Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or in other words, of the Church’s mission of the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation. The Church commits itself to the work of social change and the struggle against all forms of oppression.

Jesus himself, we should note, was certainly not a social reformer. Jesus stood for human freedom, though he did not dwell on the theme. For He taught that one is really free only when one’s relation to God’s will is right ; that is , when one repents.

Paul constantly exhorts his quarreling communities to live in harmony with one another by cultivating relations that are based on justice and concern for the felt needs of others.

The gospel of Jesus is good news for the poor: Luke has Jesus say in the beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor” period. It is Luke who gives us the picture of the early Church as a community of disciples sharing their property and distributing it to those in need.

Luke is the one who is most interested in social justice, and he portrays Jesus as a prophet on the Old Testament model. He took on the role of the servant prophet of Isaiah, who will proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and freedom to the oppressed.

Luke is also most severe toward the wealthy. In general, the Bible sees wealth as spiritually dangerous if it causes us to harden our hearts and dominate others or if it becomes a substitute for God.

So, Christians must respond to the needs of others by bearing their burdens so as to fulfill the law of Christ.

Dynamic Catholicism: A Historical Catechism Bokenkotter, Thomas.

ECONOMIC STRUCTURAL DISORDER

There are profound problems with our economic system – a structural disorder of the system itself. We need a critical analysis of the essential dignity of human labor and its priority over the maximization of profits—not just through handouts. Cosmetic changes are not enough.

We need to look at the humanizing role of labor and the equitable distribution of the world’s goods. We need to look at the full value and meaning of work.

FAITH AND SOCIALISM

We have an economy that continues to serve the needs of the rich nations at the expense of the poor. This is not to be considered an antagonism toward the rich, but the defense of the defenseless: the uneducated, the native poor and the immigrant poor who have no voice to speak for themselves.

FAITH AND SOCIALISM

 Do we run a risk that some of the economically oppressed nations of the world will rise in judgment on the rich nations?

WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG?

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SIX PATHS TO GOD

PATH TO GODSO HOW DO I FIND GOD?

Some books assume you already believe in God, that you have already found God, which is not always the case. Let’s look at the various ways people seek God through six broad paths.

THE PATH OF BELIEF

For people on this first path, belief in God has always been part of their lives. They were born into religious families or were introduced to religion at an early age. Their Christian faith also holds out the promise of life beyond this earthly one.

PATH TO GOD

Ultimately, faith is a gift from God. But faith isn’t something that you just have. Perhaps a better metaphor is that faith is like a garden: while you may already have the basics— soil, seeds, water—you have to cultivate and nourish it. Like a garden, faith takes patience, persistence, and even work.

One pitfall for those on the path of belief is an inability to understand people on other Paths. Their arrogance turns them into the “frozen chosen,” consciously or unconsciously excluding others from their cozy, believing world. This is the crabbed, joyless, and ungenerous religiosity that Jesus spoke against: spiritual blindness.

These people often expect the religious instruction they had in grammar school to sustain them in the adult world. An adult life requires an adult faith.

THE PATH OF INDEPENDENCE

PATH TO GOD

Those on the path of independence have made a conscious decision to separate themselves from organized religion, but they still believe in God. Maybe they find church services meaningless, offensive, dull, or all three. Maybe they’ve been hurt by a church.

Maybe they’ve been insulted (or abused) by a priest, pastor, rabbi, minister, or imam. Or they feel offended by certain dogmas of organized religion. Or they find religious leaders hypocritical. Or maybe they’re just bored.

Christians may be turned off by the church’s teachings on a particular moral question like birth control, or by the scandal of clergy sex abuse. They are sometimes called “lapsed,” “fallen away” or “recovering” Christians

Though they keep their distance from churches, synagogues, or mosques, many people in this group are still firm believers. Often they find solace in the religious practices that they learned as children.

THE PATH OF DISBELIEF

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WHAT DOES SPIRITUALITY MEAN?

IN SEARCH OF SPIRITUALITY

We are in this world but not of this world since every day Christians say: “Our Father who art in heaven…

Spirituality mean

Even when we worship different gods, attend different schools, have different skin colors, we’re all supposed to share spirituality.

But you have a compute and Wikipedia: “Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of their being; or the ‘deepest values and meanings by which people live.’”

Yes, that’s Wikipedia! It continues on to say, “Spirituality is often experienced as a source of inspiration or orientation in life. It can encompass belief in immaterial realities or experiences of the immanent or transcendent nature of the world.”

Hmm! That’s extremely broad. Maybe you should read a book on the subject.

Princeton religion scholar Leigh Schmidt wrote one called Restless Souls that charts the development of American spirituality. Rather than the “New Age” phenomenon it is sometimes misinterpreted as, spirituality is an egalitarian, pluralistic realm of experience and thought has  a unique and sometimes intellectually advanced role in American history. So, basically, Schmidt can’t (or won’t) really define spirituality, either.

We instinctively know that it’s mixed up in religion, but it’s definitely distinct from institutional religion. Can someone be religious without being spiritual? It’s completely plausible.

On the other side of the coin, you hear “I don’t go to church, but I’m very spiritual.” You may get called spiritual once in a while without understanding what it means. People can use spirituality as a buffer. Relying on ambiguity can be risky. Continue reading WHAT DOES SPIRITUALITY MEAN?

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DARK NIGHTS OF DEPRESSION

DEPRESSION AND DELIVERANCEDARK NIGHTS OF THE SOUL

So you feel weighted down with the circumstances of life. 

Henry David Thoreau said over a hundred years ago, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”DARK NIGHTS OF THE SOUL

Dark nights are not extraordinary or rare. Our lives are filled with emotional tunnels: the loss of a loved one or end of a relationship, aging and illness, career disappointments or just an ongoing sense of dissatisfaction with life. Society tends to view these “dark nights” in clinical terms as obstacles to be overcome as quickly as possible.

Thomas Moore in his book, The Dark Nights of the Soul makes a distinction between clinical depression and what he terms the dark night of the soul, a spiritual trial.  Maybe you’re overwhelmed but not depressed. Maybe life has sent you a great challenge, and you need a vast spiritual vision to deal with it. “To care for the soul in earnest, you have to learn to appreciate the dark elements as well as the light ones.”-Thomas Moore

 Moore’s theme is: wallow in the darkness & find perverse satisfaction in what the sadness has to teach you, until it eventually ejects you back into the light. It leaves its mark but it makes you a person of insight and compassion.

Dark Nights Provoke Deep QuestionsDARK NIGHTS OF THE SOUL

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PERSONALITIES AFFECT HEALING

PERSONALITIES AFFECT HEALING

HEALING AND PERSONALITIES

TEMPERAMENT HEALING

Which of the four personalities as shown above are you? Each of the different temperaments thinks in a different way. Each has different inherent weaknesses. Each deal with healing in a different way.

healing personalities

Galen (AD 129 – c. 200) was the first to name: “sanguine“, “choleric“, “melancholicandphlegmatic related to temperament. Others followed suit and introduced more detail.

Table of theories and instruments using extroversion and people-task-orientation

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CHRISTIANITY and RISE of WESTERN CULTURE

THE RISE OF WESTERN CULTURE

What was the real cause of the rise of Western Culture itself? How did it come about that a small group of Christians acquire the power to transform the world religion in such a short space of time? Christianity developed from 72 disciples. Was it supernatural evangelism? The Book of Acts demonstrates that physical healing, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit were regular occurrences as the early Christians engaged in evangelism.

By the fourth century Christianity had become the official religion of the Roman Empire and inspired the new type of Byzantine culture, which had its center in the new Rome founded by the first Christian Emperor at Constantinople.

Let’s look at Christianity after the collapse of the Roman Empire. There were terrible economic, social, and political conditions that befell Europeans from 500-750 A.D. Yet, the Church tenaciously held on to what was of left of Western Civilization. Both Irish Celtic monks and the Benedictine monks preserved and spread their learning via their missionary zeal. It was the Benedictines, started by St. Benedict (480-544), who, upon meeting their Irish Celtic counterparts taught the Irish practicality and gave Irish monasticism a more sensible and less rigorous rule in a self-contained society (The Benedictine Rule). One of their own was selected Pope-Pope Gregory I 590-604) who is credited for not only learning and leadership, but the beginning of classical music with the Gregorian chant.

The greatest service of the Irish monks was the new movement of missionary expansion throughout Europe in the seventh and eighth century. This was a time during the victorious tide of Muslim invasions, which was sweeping over Western Mediterranean and North Africa. Finally, Charles Martel checked the Muslim advance at Poitiers in 732 AD. There were two figures who stand out as supreme—the priest, to teach and offer sacrifice and the king to rule and judge. This was also a time of wholesale exploitation and expropriation of bishoprics and monasteries to provide benefits to Martel’s warriors. Missionaries like St. Boniface admitted that they could not have been effective without the support of Martel.

Christianity was able to maintain its power by the awe inspired by its supernatural prestige: an arc of refuge against the violence of the barbarians in the world of war. Christianity became a strong unifying cultural force which provided the roots for present day European civilization as we know it: a direct bearing on the fate of our modern society.

There was an intimate relationship between religious faith and its social achievement. Christianity transformed Europe from a barbarian hinterland into a center of world culture and was responsible for the rise of city-states, the creation of new literature and philosophy, as well as new social, cultural and religious institutions: the order of chivalry, the religious orders and the universities.

The conversion of Clovis (480-520) of the Northern Barbarians was historically important when one considers that Clovis’ empire (basically modern France) became open to the Benedictines and the spread of knowledge and learning. The rise of the Franks under Charles Martel (717-742), Pepin (741-768), and especially Charlemagne (768-814) was important for the spread and renewal of the Church.

Charlemagne’s palace school at Aachen was a center for learned men and drew students and clergy where literacy and texts were developed that enhanced and preserved the learning of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, including a uniform system of script called Bookhand which included upper and lower case letters and punctuation. The monks had to instruct their converts not only in the Christian doctrine but in the Latin tongue. They had to teach reading and writing including calligraphy, painting, music, chronology and the knowledge of the calendar. Continue reading CHRISTIANITY and RISE of WESTERN CULTURE

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