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What is TRUE Spirituality?…

SpiritualityWhat is TRUE Spirituality?

For much of my Christian life, I confessed Jesus and so pursued some kind of spiritual life. It was not because I was all that interested in overcoming the self-centeredness that WAS my life…my up and down emotional states…my negative thinking about others…my pursuits, interests, and ambitions, virtually all of which were all about my hopes and dreams. The fact is, my life was pretty much about ME.

I largely pursued spirituality for what I felt were its beneficial outcomes for me, especially the one about escaping hell and making heaven.

What I did not know in those days is that I, like most people, was thoroughly controlled by my own ego – the very illusory thing Jesus sought to show us how to overcome…that very inner entity that almost all spiritual teachers tried to bring to our awareness and so enable us to overcome.

It is the ego in you that is the false self – not a “bad” self just not your best “self” or even your most “real” self. It is the self we must move beyond or else our spirituality is cheapened into some kind of insurance policy for the world to come. Or, little more than some cheap attachment or sacred substitute here.

And, why is this? Because it is the ego in you that wants to survive. The real you is eternal – most of Christian history it has been called the “soul.” But think not of the “soul” as some of invisible image of the best ego you! Which is, of course, how most of us think of the soul. Just the best part of me. So I stand in the mirror and look at my body and mistakenly think that, in death, the soul…the best mirrored image of me…is what survives.

My friend you are going to die and with it, all attachments of the ego you. And, that includes the “body” image, too.

The ego in you dies, too. Which is, of course, why it tries hard, and believe me it has been quite successful with Christians, to attach itself to the future…to get you all wrapped up in things…even “religious” things…beliefs…doctrines, none of which are evil – they are all just beautiful expressions of what we believe. But, if the ego can divert our attention away from that toward which all doctrines point so that we invest our doctrines with our imaginary hopes and illusory selves, then of course it makes sense that, when people question or challenge our doctrines, we would feel reactionary and defensive.

Such things we take personal.

And, why do we?

Because we’re still under the illusion we ARE these beliefs…we ARE our attachments to all things spiritual, including our beliefs in heaven or hell.

But, Jesus said, “Deny yourself” (Matt. 16:24) – not “Deny yourSOUL” – the real you…the eternal you…the YOU in ONENESS with ONENESS herself. No, what he was saying is, “Detach” – that’s Buddha’s word. Jesus used “Deny.” The same pointer toward the same outcome. Just words.

Don’t get attached to words. Another ego thing. Buddha called all attachments – emptiness. He said to let go of all emptiness. Which is, of course, the illusion. All attachments are “emptiness.” How do you hold on to nothing? The ego tries, nonetheless.

Jesus described all attachments as “the laying up treasures on earth where moth doth corrupt and destroy” (Matt. 6:29). Same truth. Different pointer. If you think he was talking only about money and possessions, you’ve missed his point entirely. “You cannot serve two masters, God and mammon simultaneously” (Matt. 6:24). Mammon is any attachment.

Even an attachment to some “sacred” belief or doctrine.

What is TRUE SPIRITUALITY?

Father Richard Rohr says, “True spirituality is not a search for perfection or control or the door to the next world; it is a search for divine union now” (The Naked Now, p. 16).

This then may be the test of genuine spirituality in your own life. I cannot say this for sure. But, I might be onto something here:

The test of true spirituality is whether you are more and more interested in NOW and living with fewer and fewer attachments while, at one-and-the-same-time, less and less interested in the future that Jesus said “Take no thought of anyway” (Matt. 6:33-34) with its illusions of golden streets and jasper walls and palaces for all who’ve believed correctly…

For those like US…for those like ME.

It’s all about ME…

And US, isn’t it?

Or, is it?

Or, is it just EGO?

Just sayin!

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/yourbestlifenow/2013/06/what-is-true-spirituality.html#ixzz2VG7ePxac

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20 Responses to What is TRUE Spirituality?…

  1. Brian Campbell June 6, 2013 at 1:10 AM #

    Thanks for the great article Dr. Steve! One of my favorite books is “The Power of Now” and you’ve touched on what Eckhardt Tolle talked about in that book. It’s been a powerful spiritual practice. I do believe this is what Jesus was talking about when he said “The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand” at hand meaning “Right Now!” Of course Eckhardt wasn’t the first to talk about this concept, it’s ancient Eastern philosophy that we can all learn from 🙂

    • Dr. Steve McSwain June 6, 2013 at 6:50 AM #

      Thanks Brian. Have you read Tolle’s book A New Earth? I’m thinking you probably have. I loved it as much as The P. of N. It goes deeper into the whole world of who we think we are as opposed to who we really are. Thanks for reading my posts. Have you read The Enoch Factor? I’m thinking you have done that too. If not, I will send you a complimentary copy. Just let me know. Blessings, my friend.

      • Brian Campbell June 6, 2013 at 8:47 AM #

        Thanks for replying so quickly Dr. Steve. I have read A New Earth. I haven’t read the Enoch Factor, although I have seen it on the shelf at the bookstore. I’m currently in Thailand and traveling around southeast asia, so while I would appreciate the complimentary copy it would be difficult to receive it. If it’s digital, that would be easier to receive. I’m glad to have found your blog, you’ve got some great content here 🙂

  2. Malcolm C Dragon June 6, 2013 at 4:33 AM #

    Good point, Steve – it’s like Jan Johnson said recently in her blog: “When it comes to the topic of spiritual disciplines too many people think it is all about them. In other words people’s tendency is to self focus.That is a mistake. You are NOT the star of your own spirituality show. God is the star, we are only bit players. Spiritual discipline is about God working in our lives, NOT about us working hard for God.”!

    • Dr. Steve McSwain June 6, 2013 at 6:54 AM #

      It is, as you say, Malcolm so easy to slip back into the world of our ego where everything, of course, is “all about us.” Robert L. Stephenson’s poem says it all, “I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me; and, what can be the use of him is more than I can see. He’s very, very like me, from his heels up to his head; and, I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.”

      It’s all about the God within. Malcolm, thanks for reading my posts. Have you read The Enoch Factor? I’m thinking you, too, might have read it. But, if you have not, I would glad to send you a complimentary copy. I only ask those to whom I do to write a couple of sentences as a review, positive or negative – matters not – just honesty, and post it on Amazon. Anyway, I wish you well. Blessings this moment…and the next…and the next, too.

    • Brian Campbell June 6, 2013 at 8:49 AM #

      “Spiritual discipline is about God working in our lives, NOT about us working hard for God.” ~ That’s the opposite of what most people are taught in churches! Thanks for sharing that Malcom 🙂

      • Malcolm C Dragon June 6, 2013 at 9:06 AM #

        Could be one of the reasons why there’s recently been such a surge in SBNRs!

  3. Malcolm C Dragon June 7, 2013 at 8:03 AM #

    Just to say… I have now received the audiobook, thanks, and will listen to it over the next week or two. When I have completed it I will send you a review, as promised.

  4. gatordeano June 9, 2013 at 10:30 PM #

    I love Richard Rohr. Realizing we already have Divine Union is what it’s all about. I believe what make’s it Christian is seeing it is through what Christ has finished on our behalf that we have been restored back into to the union we were created for.

    “In Him [Christ Jesus] everything finds its original identity and purpose; and by Him everything is in union and complete. He is the supreme rule and influence upon us, His Body, who have shared with Him in His crucifixion and resurrection; and He is the beginning, the origin of us all.

    For He is everything God had in mind for us to be, the Godhead dwelling permanently in bodily form. [katoikeō=to house permanently] From God’s perspective, all of creation had been restored to its original design and brought into harmony through the blood that was spilled at the Cross, since before the foundation of the world”. (Col 1:17-20) [Hebrews 4:3; Revelation 13:8]

    HDT, Hammered Drunk Translation by Silas Valentine

    I think being in the NOW is being in the Eternal realm where time is not a factor. When (Rev 13:8) for instance talks about the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the cosmos, that is an eternal perspective. Carnal thinking which is by nature temporal doesn’t know what to make of ideas like that.

    The Cross happened at a point of time & space, but it was really an eternal event. In God’s eyes humanity was reconciled before Adam even fell. That’s why understanding the Finished Work of the Cross is such a mindblower. It is a timeless reality. It’s just that some people haven’t awoken to the reality of the Good News yet. It is true in eternity, but someone doesn’t benefit fully from it till they hear the message and receive it as the gift it is.

    Likewise it says our old man, our Adamic nature, our ego died when Christ died, but we’re to appropriate it by reckoning it by using our faith, and it also means we now fully share in His very Divine life.

    “For the love of Christ controls us, since we have concluded this: that one has died for all; therefore all have died. (2 Cor 5:14)

    “We know this, that our old self was crucified with him, so that the body of sin would be rendered powerless, so that we would no longer be enslaved by sin; for the one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we also live with him.” (Rom 6:6-8)

    “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6:11) You walk in who you are not by self-effort, but by the revelation of who Christ is in you.

    And that word “reckon” there in the Greek is “logizomai” means to come to the logical conclusion, to compute, to calculate.

    • Dr. Steve McSwain June 10, 2013 at 6:20 AM #

      Deep and thoughtful insights and interpretations of scripture. Thank you for sharing this and, of course, for reading my own posts. How did we stumble across each other?

      • Malcolm C Dragon June 18, 2013 at 5:50 PM #

        I think Dean picked up on my correspondence with you – he and I are both members of Brian Campbell’s ‘Attract Your Crowd’ community (http://attractyourcrowd.com/), where I am a founder member of the Spirituality group. Dean and I have had several very interesting conversations on there.

  5. Dean Delker June 19, 2013 at 12:50 PM #

    Forgive me, Dr. Steve. I’m still getting up to speed on all this Brian & Malcolm are doing. Malcolm explained it well. BTW, I’m from Henderson, KY myself though I’ve lived in Gainesville, FL about half my life now. I’m the IT guy responsible for about 85% of the videoconferencing at the Univ of Florida. It is highly automated, of course, but we do over 18,000 conference hours a year, and it’s my job to coordinate all that.

    I had a freeing salvation experience of Jesus as Lord in the mid-70’s and through ignorance gradually allowed religion to constrain my life far too much. I knew in my heart it was oppressive, but I didn’t hear any alternatives in the circles I was in. But 2 years ago marked a return to my First Love and a whole new batch of friends who were experiencing similar paradigm shifts, and I’ve been detoxing from religion, especially the “Christian” flavor of religion ever since.

    The key as I see it is understanding the Finished Work of the Cross from the perspective of eternity which allows us when we believe in time & space to enter into His Rest (Heb 3 & 4) where it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us. (Gal 2:20) And one big benefit is the removal of striving, stressful, unproductive, sweat of your brow type work. We still have callings and responsibilities, but we do those out of a profound & blissful rest in our already accomplished Union with Christ, and though Him union with the Father and Holy Spirit.

    Most religion works from the premise people are separated from God and have to work their ass off to get back into union or perfect that union. I think true Christianity says Jesus as the Word of God in flesh, the Last Adam, has done all that for and as all humanity in His vicarious life, death & resurrection. Your “job” is to accept that, not be conformed to the temporal thinking and limitations of this present world and have your mind renewed to who God is and who you are in Him (Rom 12:2)

    And all that of course is by grace through faith, and even that faith is a gift. We have all been given a measure of faith, (a mustard seed’s worth at least) which allows us to tap into the unlimited Divine resources which are already ours in Christ especially His unlimited, unconditional Love.

    As I’ve told Malcolm I’m also a Christian Universalist which means I believe the New Testament reveals salvation as being already accomplished for mankind. Obviously not all mankind has seen, understood or embraced that, and many will die believing the lie of their separation from God. In that case as I read the scriptures I understand they will have every opportunity to hear and embrace the everlasting Gospel in the next age or ages because His mercy never ends and His love never fails. And eventually all things will be transformed and restored in Christ (Col 1:15-20)

    I fully agree with the early church most of whom believed Jesus preached the Gospel in Hades in between His death and resurrection and led many to glory right then. (1 Pet 3:18-20) even specifically mentions all those who were disobedient in the days of Noah, a legendarily depraved bunch . I won’t say there won’t be cleansing & purifying fire for people who die holding on to their sin and unbelief, but it’s purpose will be correction and restoration in love, not punishment, and certainly not the eternal conscious torment thrown out as unassailable by the religious “Christians”

    Many Christians disagree, especially with the last part, but I still love them and believe for the best. They’re still created in His image.

    • Dr. Steve McSwain June 20, 2013 at 8:41 AM #

      Glad to have you around. Thanks for sharing your story and I do hope you’ll stay in touch. Blessings.

  6. Malcolm C Dragon July 7, 2013 at 3:17 PM #

    I just thought that I should let you know, Steve, that I did start listening to the audiobook, but got a bit sidetracked over the last few weeks. I’ll try to get back to it, soon, so that I can write the review I promised. I wanted you to know that I’ve not forgotten about it! 😉

    • Dr. Steve McSwain July 7, 2013 at 9:21 PM #

      No problem. I hope you are doing well my friend. Blessings.

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