Before addressing the importance of spirituality in modern times, we should first define it. Spirituality is the experience of that domain of awareness where we experience our universality. This domain of awareness is a core consciousness that is beyond our mind, intellect, and ego. In religious traditions this core consciousness is referred to as the soul which is part of a collective soul or collective consciousness, which in turn is part of a more universal domain of consciousness referred to in religions as God. When we have even a partial glimpse of this level of awareness we experience joy, insight, intuition, creativity, and freedom of choice. In addition, there is the awakening of love, kindness, compassion, happiness at the success of others, and equanimity. As the turbulence of our mind settles down, our body also begins to heal itself because it also quiets down. The body's self-repair mechanisms are activated when the mind is at peace because the mind and body are at the deepest level inseparably one.
All religions are founded on a deep spiritual experience of unity consciousness where there was complete union between the personal and universal. Unfortunately, many times the followers of religion, instead of understanding the religious experience and seeking it for themselves ended up merely worshiping the founder of the religion. It is more important to fully grasp the teaching of the religion and its basic tenets, that have come from a deeper experience of transcendence. Self-righteous morality is not a means for experiencing higher consciousness. Higher consciousness, spontaneously leads to moral and ethical behavior. However, because spiritual knowledge is powerful, the custodians of organized religion have frequently ended up with destructive behaviors -- power mongering, cronyism, control, corruption, and influence peddling. As a result organized religion has frequently become quarrelsome, divisive, and led to conflict. No organized religion has been immune to this unfortunate tendency. So, we have had the crusades and witch-hunts of Christianity, the Jihads of Islam, the violent communal riots instigated by fundamentalist Hindus and the persecution of minorities and ethnic cleansing all in the name of God.
Our present times are particularly dangerous because ancient habits combined with modern capacities and technologies of destruction are a devastating combination that can destroy life on our planet.
As we begin to have a more scientific understanding of the transcendent level of our existence and look at the basic tenets of all religions, we find that the spiritual experience is fundamental to all and similar in all. This experience can be had by anyone through the practice of meditation, prayer, contemplative self-inquiry, the expression of love and compassion in action, intellectual inquiry into the deeper meaning of life, and self-less service. With these practices, we begin to realize that consciousness is a field of infinite possibilities; that it is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient and infinitely creative. This experience also leads to unbounded love and compassion. Getting in touch with our deepest self is therefore the utmost importance because it is our connection to the mystery that we call God.
As the Sufi mystic Rumi has said, "You're not just a drop in the ocean, you're also the mighty ocean in the drop." If there is anything that will at this moment heal our wounded planet with its immense problems of social injustice, ecological devastation, extreme economic disparities, war, conflict and terrorism, it is a deeper experiential understanding and knowledge of our own spirit. With this deeper understanding and with an interfaith dialogue that looks at our commonalities rather than our differences, we have the opportunity to solve the problems of the world, address its inequities and heal ourselves. The word, "healing" and the words, holy and whole, all mean the same thing. To be healed is to have the return of the memory of who we really are. When we return to our sacred source, the world will be holy, and it will be healed.
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