Spirituality Articles

Being Authentic, Not Obnoxious

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Why Men Don't Ask for Directions

Do you know people who pride themselves on being authentic, yet when you walk away from them, you feel badly about yourself and the interaction? Perhaps they’re angry, accusatory, blaming, and shaming, yet they have no clue how they’ve hurt you.

“I tell it like it is,” they proudly declare. “I say exactly what I think. You want me to be honest, right?”

Why Fasting Can Be Beneficial

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Why Fasting Can Be BeneficialThis spring I’ve decided to go on a fast. For 40 days, I will be giving up consumption of meat and chocolate.

Why do people fast and what is the meaning behind it?

Fasting is an act of willing abstinence or reduction from certain foods or drinks, or both for a certain period of time. We’ve all done it, whether we’ve realized it or not. Many of us have had a horrible morning with a vicious hangover and have stopped drinking for a period of time. I’m also pretty sure that at one point you’ve decided to stay away from a particular food that gave you food poisoning or made you feel sick.

Sacred Longing: The Wisdom of Embracing Our Desires

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

Many of us grew up in religions that warned about the perils of desire. Greed and gluttony are two of the seven deadly sins that imperil our soul. Buddhism, which many view as a psychology more than a religion, is often understood as teaching that desire is the root cause of suffering; the path toward liberation is one of freeing ourselves from its seductive grip.

No doubt, our desires and longings have brought a heap of trouble with them. But an open question remains: is suffering created by desire itself or how we relate to it? Perhaps it is how we engage with desire — or fail to engage with it in a wise and skillful way — that generates the bulk of our discontent.

A Spirituality that Embraces Feelings & Desire

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

A Spirituality that Embraces Feelings & DesireWe often hear spiritual teachers say that suffering is created by our attachments and that the path toward awakening means transcending desires. But might the opposite be true? Is suffering generated by a lack of healthy human attachments and our subsequent isolation?

During my college years in the late 1960’s I was introduced to meditation and spiritual practices. At the same time I joined a “sensitivity group,” which focused on honoring our feelings. I found both practices to be invaluable. But finding few people interested in the interface of these two paths, I felt rather lonely.

3 Views of Relationships as a Spiritual Path

Monday, February 17th, 2014

3 Views of Relationships as a Spiritual PathMany of us are weary of outward-looking religion and don’t feel nourished by psychotherapies that neglect our spiritual potential. We may linger in an inexplicable emptiness until we attend to spiritual growth and awakening.

But the word “spiritual” is so overused that it may lose its meaning.

Here are three things that spirituality means to me…

Anger & the Limits of Acceptance in Mindfulness Meditation

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Anger & the Limits of Acceptance in Mindfulness MeditationOne of the doctrines of meditation — especially Buddhist-inspired meditation — is radical acceptance. Often misunderstood, at its root lies the need to experience things as they are — not bound by judgment, opinion, or our desire to change things to better suit our expectations.

Also informing many people’s meditation practice is the Buddhist idea that an attachment to anger is one of the causes of suffering, again colored by judgment, opinion, and a desire to change. Desire itself, or an attachment to desire, is cited as another cause of suffering. Not accepting things as they are, wanting them to be different, can cause us great emotional distress.

But what if our experience itself is unacceptable?

Why Making Comparisons Hurts You More Than It Helps

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Why Making Comparisons Hurts You More Than It HelpsAt the start of a new year, many people make resolutions and are inspired to make changes in their lives. This year my resolution is to have no resolution.

The problem with resolutions is that it can place you on a dangerous course of comparison. We constantly compare images, status, children, wealth, skills or values.

Although dangerous, comparison also is quite essential for our growth and development. We all need a parent, teacher, friend, pastor or role model to guide us and teach us. Most times your mentor knows something more than you, hence the comparison: you know more; I know less. Therefore, I want to know what you know. There’s also the triple comparison: he is “better” than me, but I’m “better” than she.

One tricky comparison is that of suffering. For example, someone’s family member dies and another person’s marriage is over. Though different, both are experiencing the same feelings of pain, grief and loss. To compare the extent of one’s trials is not so important, in my opinion.

Dysfunctional Religion Versus a Spirituality That Builds Intimacy & Community

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Dysfunctional Religion versus a Spirituality that Builds Intimacy & CommunityWe don’t have to look very deeply to recognize the divisiveness generated by religions throughout the world. Apart from those with an interfaith perspective — truth exists in many forms — people often insist that their beliefs and practices are the only ones sanctioned by God.

But do their religious convictions open their hearts and deepen their wisdom or disconnect them from life, love, and each other?

4 More Spiritual Tips for Staying Sane Through the Holidays

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

4 More Spiritual Tips for Staying Sane Through the HolidaysAs the holiday season winds up for its last big week before Christmas, here are a few spiritual tips to help you remember what the season’s all about. This is part two of a two-part article (part one is here).

4. Celebrate your truth.

I have a friend named Wayne who had an awful life. He was maybe 12 years old when, looking around the dinner table, he finally did the math that estranged him from his family.

You see, Wayne had four older brothers, each a year apart, and Wayne was born four years after the last. He knew immediately that he wasn’t supposed to be there; he knew immediately that he was an accident. Even worse, he knew that everyone in that household hated and resented his existence.

Interfaith Relationships During The Holidays

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Interfaith Relationships During The HolidaysNavigating though religious faith differences can be tricky in the best of times. However, keeping the holidays stress-free may require extra effort and compromise.

Ideally, planning ahead and discussing potential problem areas would begin before a couple’s relationship is solidified, in premarital counseling. One of the biggest oversights a couple can make is denying that differences even exist, or believing conflicts will not occur.

Discussing all possible scenarios ahead of time can help prevent future troubles from developing — or becoming worse.

3 Spiritual Tips for Staying Sane Through the Holidays

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

3 Spiritual Tips for Staying Sane Through the HolidaysAs the holiday season winds up for its last big week before Christmas, here are a few spiritual tips to help you remember what the season’s all about. This is part one of a two-part article.

1. The reason for the season.

I don’t care what religious denomination you call your own. The holidays are always about giving and giving back, which — if you really think about it — is the cornerstone of every thriving belief system.

For me, giving has a very specific look. It starts with hour after hour spent poring over the gift lists my wife and I have compiled, followed by standing in line after line at toy stores, department stores, and jewelry shops all over the city.

Actualizing the American Dream: What If Wise People Ran the Country?

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Old CoupleThere’s an assumption in American politics that our best candidates have a legal or business background. Indeed, an astounding 43% of our representatives and senators are lawyers. What does it say about America that we look to legal and business professionals to guide our nation forward?

This is not to slam attorneys or business-people, nor to minimize a place for law, order, and good financial decisions. But using psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a model, our concerns about rules, regulations, and financial health are limited to our most basic needs for safety and security. The values that American’s claim to hold dear, such as loving our neighbor, creating vibrant communities, and actualizing our spiritual potential have few representatives in Washington.

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