1 Corinthians (DRB) 14:33 “For God is not the God of dissension, but of peace: as also I teach in all the churches of the saints”.
Over this week, I have been thinking about what to write or post. It has been a spiritually high week but on the other hand, while enjoying where I am and trying to just observe and listen and be aware while still operating in the spirit I have seen and heard things that I feel strongly to write about.
I am from a third world country where I was exposed to a culture where while in the spirit or under the anointing it could sometimes get disruptive or should I say disorderly even to the point where it seems that there is no sense of awareness.
Stay with me, my radical friends. I am going somewhere.
I don’t want to you to become disengaged.
However, I feel compelled to share my point on what has been dropping into my spirit.
So here I go again…
Researching the internet.
Just to see how to help put my thought eloquently or to see if someone has it all figured out through the Holy Spirit.
And yes, I found this article on spiritual etiquette.
My conclusion is, even under the strongest of anointing there should be order. As one matures, one can navigate under the anointing without disruption, or disorderly conduct, and be aware of oneself and the others around.
Activate your spiritual senses as you operate under the anointing. The fruits of the spirit is still at work. You can still open your eyes, your should be listening, and can still feel!
I encourage you to read Suzanne’s blog and see if there is anything you can learn from the topic as you grow in your walk with The Lord.
“In the mid-eighties I studied with a teacher who introduced me to the term “spiritual etiquette.” Although most of us are familiar with the term etiquette – which is generally defined as adopting a code of polite behavior in society – pairing it with spirituality is something that’s not often discussed. This is primarily because it’s a pretty charged topic, and the ego can get provoked rather quickly in reaction to what may be considered polite behavior in the area of one’s spiritual life, simply due to how we define it, as well as our ideas about ourselves.
This is the thing though: we cannot delude ourselves into thinking we can compartmentalize our spiritual life, no matter how we define it. We take ourselves wherever we go, and the core of who we are is reflected in everything we do at home, work, school, and socially. Therefore transparency is a non-negotiable factor.
My own teacher had a tough time walking his talk regarding spiritual etiquette. He made some unfortunate mis-steps on the path, and lost his way from what I considered his greatest contribution to transformative self-awareness. However, the concepts he shared deeped resonated within me, and it was this thread of his body of teachings that became my own missive to both learn and eventually teach about. In order to make it more accessible to people of all faiths and beliefs, years ago I merged it within the framework of secular mindfulness practices, which I believe offer universal benefit in terms of a compass to maintain steady footing on our journey.
The words of songwriter Graham Nash have always been a preface to offering these guidelines and core principles: “You, who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by” – so there they are once again.
As we begin this New Year, I’m offering a revisitation of column I wrote in June of 2006 about these core principles, as a way to come back to beginners mind and reflect upon where we are on the path. If we’ve veered off in some area, we can just own it with acceptance, kindness and honesty, and begin again.
During the past fifteen or so years of communicating about how personal behavior directly affects our spiritual growth, I learned this level of transformational work looks deceptively easy and obvious on the surface. But in actual practice it’s challenged many who agree the foundations of spiritual etiquette are a given in any awareness seeker’s life … in theory. Living them in every moment of every day isn’t as easy as it appears! However, the current global situation – and the greater needs of the whole – asks each of us to consciously attend to any gaps that exist in what we believe – and how we show up in the world, moment by moment, in all situations. As David Byrne of the Talking Heads wrote, “This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around.”
In that spirit, here’s a review of the Core Principles of Spiritual Etiquette:
The root meaning for integrity is the same as that for integration; complete, unbroken and united. Integrity is the gauge of the evolutionary status of your soul; the more you embody, the more evolved your level of consciousness. Living a life with integrity means embracing 100% accountability and responsibility for your thoughts, choices, behaviors and actions. It also implies you’ve accepted there is no one to blame for your current spiritual position in life…because no matter what happens, it is your choice as to how you will respond and move forward, and those choices will impact the spiritual consequences. Once you decide it matters to never compromise your soul for anything you desire in life, you are on the way to living with spiritual integrity.
In traditional religious terms, grace is thought of as an act of bestowment from a Higher Power, a gift of divine providence from that benevolent Force which guides and sustains our faith. In terms of spiritual etiquette, I also use the word grace in its more secular form, and describe it as human actions undertaken with beauty of form, conscious composition, humility, common decency and respect, personal accountability, and with an extension of good will and the adoption of the Golden Rule towards others. When we behave gracefully, we are demonstrating a sense of spiritual refinement, class and style.
Behavior that is spiritually graceful embodies the practice of spiritual integrity. Acting with spiritual grace is an art that takes practice to accomplish, and is strengthened by the practice of mindfulness. Learning to act from a point of grace rises from inner stillness and personal strength, clarity and a presence of ego-less poise and confidence. It can be both thunderous and subtle, yet always comes from the heart.
The word “purity” scares people who think it means becoming a nun or a monk. Purity is not about piousness or celibacy or wearing shapeless clothes; it’s about consciously not allowing the things of this world to muddy your soul. Purity isn’t about self-righteousness; it’s about right-use-of-self with no air of superiority whatsoever. Purity protects you from using spiritual principles as a weapon against others, and keeps you from cherry picking which principles appease your ego. Purity is being aware of your shadow potentials and spiritually self-destructive tendencies, and staying one step ahead of yourself. The more you practice self-honest inquiry, you become able to acknowledge and honor where your choices lead you, and are able to refine how you show up in the world a little more each day.
Humility isn’t about seeking to be humiliated. It’s about dropping the ego’s grip on everything you do. Letting go of attention seeking, defensiveness, justification, competitiveness, envy and victimhood, and instead feeling genuine happiness over someone else getting the promotion or a bigger slice of the material pie. Humility is owning your mistakes and making amends and correcting the situation whenever you can without beating yourself up about it. It’s understanding that expecting to get everything that you want without earning it creates an entitlement mentality that can turn you into a spoiled brat and a potential power abuser. Humility is knowing that being “spiritual” does not make you “special” or “better than.” False modesty is of the ego; when you’re humble you can own your brilliance and accomplishments without being taken out by your ego, as denying what you possess inside is denying the Source of whatever gifts and talents you have actualized. Humility allows you to blend into the world instead of clamoring to stand out simply with the knowledge you are merely responding to the inner callings of your place along the journey, knowing that no one is more or less important than anyone else.
Honesty is owning and living the Truth with a capital “T”. Not necessarily the much-touted “my truth,” as that can just simply be your point of view in the moment and may have nothing to do with the real Truth of any given situation. It’s about not lying when it’s convenient or if it will save your butt when you choose not to own up to the facts, or will just make you feel better about yourself and your choices, for the most insidious lies are the ones we tell ourselves. Radical self-honesty is the first step in seeing and owning our shadow behaviors and how they undermine our spiritual growth, and it takes incorporating every other attribute of spiritual etiquette on this list to transcend our self-destructive and non-productive repetitive, reactive behavioral patterns. It’s hard for most everyone to be honest all of the time… but choosing to live your life as honestly as possible in every situation allows you to look in the mirror and sleep well at night.
The power of finely tuned observation is called “seeing” by shamans and mystics. Observation involves paying attention to everything going on around you, and honing your intuitive skills. Awareness, attention and presence are the three components of mindful observation. Observation leads to spiritual discrimination, which has nothing to do with the lower energy of judgment. Discrimination is about using both logic and intuition as allies to comprehend what is really going on with any person or any given scenario and how that impacts the choices you make. Clear observation allows us to distinguish reality from illusion and not become enticed by mirages. Honest self-observation is the key to living impeccably.
Spiritual authenticity means no hypocrisy, double standards or phoniness. It means you can’t complain about what horrible crimes against humanity that power-abusing world leaders are engaging in on a grand scale if you are committing similar types of injustices energetically in your own life sphere. Scale is irrelevant in terms of energy, and there is no justifying hypocrisy. You can’t go around espousing “love and light” in the public eye and then treat the waitress as though she is beneath you, scream at your employees or students, or act like a bitchy diva. Authenticity is about walking the talk for real. Remember, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can never “get away” with anything on a spiritual level.
Courage is being stronger than your fears – even when it’s difficult. It’s about owning your own mind, believing in yourself in a healthy manner and not being concerned with everyone’s approval. Courage is upholding your deepest convictions regardless of the situation. It’s also about facing your darkest tendencies and doing the work to transcend them. Courage, along with hope, is what gets you through the toughest inner and outer challenges and is the strongest arrow in a spiritual warrior’s quiver.
Without hope there is no primal inspiration to live a spiritual life. Hope engenders faith and makes us survivors and believers in the possible even when present circumstances appear the darkest, bleakest and most grim. We never know what lies just around the bend, and without hope we will give up. Hope also sees there is more to existence than the earthly plane we find ourselves in, as we know all things must pass, including our current physical form, and even in the ravages of disease or poverty there is something beyond what appears to be.
Compassion is the step before forgiveness – without it, then forgiveness can be self-serving, especially if we follow the idea that we should forgive another’s transgressions for our own benefit. Genuine compassion is never self-serving by definition. Compassion allows us to see another as an imperfect human being, yet it’s not about enabling darkness and ignorance in an attempt to express unconditional love. Compassion allows us to see that souls who inflict pain are either suffering greatly in the present, and/or are carving a path for self-created misery in the very near future. Compassion begets forgiveness for that soul yet it also doesn’t imply forgetfulness of the actions or the potential for it to continue. Compassion for ourselves teaches it isn’t okay to be a doormat. And lastly, one of the most compassionate things you can do for a fellow human being is to not enable their darkness or ignorance in any way, even if it requires some mindful assertiveness or even some “tough love” to shine a light.
Empathy is the direct experience of another’s position, and is a unifying relationship on a deeper level than compassion is, as compassion does not require standing in another’s shoes. Although many people envy those who have what appears to be a “charmed” life, it is only by experiencing multiple types of human suffering can we possess empathy. As the saying goes, “No one can counsel an alcoholic as well as someone who has been there his/her self.” Experiencing crisis, adversity, loss, pain, and other “dark nights of the soul” are horrific while we are in the middle of them, but the very things that cause us tremendous suffering can turn out to be major gifts on the soul level when we reach the other side. Every personal trial and tribulation you survive is a deposit in your empathy bank account.
Action means moving the energy. No matter what our intentions, dreams and goals are, they must be followed by supportive actions. Spiritual activism means doing something positive and productive instead of whining and feeling hopeless. In addition, it means doing the work on ourselves, every day, even when we don’t “feel like it.”
Interconnection is about physics; seeing that every thought, choice, action, and behavior has an impact both directly and indirectly upon every other sentient being and the planet. Our practice becomes dedicated to honestly seeing the impact we have, and to make adjustments accordingly. The Golden Rule is an easy rule of thumb to remind us of this, and to adopt it simply because honorable treatment of others is the right thing to do.
If you cannot see the humor inherent on the spiritual path then you will be a boor. If you take yourself so seriously and can’t laugh at yourself, then you will have a much rougher time of it than those who remember to have fun with the cosmic jokes.
On the flip side, if you can’t stand in total awe of the magnitude and depth of all existence, then you will never grasp reverence. Reverence is how we see that the interplay of light and dark without and within is a sacred dance. Reverence is where gratitude is borne in our hearts, where love, selflessness, and devotion all emerge, where personal rebirth and miracles are possible and our deepest meditations open our hearts and minds toward beauty, possibility and lasting spiritual transformation.
May 2014 bring you deeper into your practice of mindfulness, entwined with these core principles of spiritual etiquette, and be a source of strength in your circle.
Well said Suzanne. Great work!
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