I realise I have been awfully quiet here these last months. I have never been a very regular writer, but demands of family life, starting university and working meant I have hardly felt the urge to do any private writing at all apart from my occasional writing for Gods and Radicals.
But just as a bulb does a lot of its growing unseen, in the dark, I find these last months have been a productive time when it comes to insights and personal growth. Studying religion with a scientific mindset has not spoiled my religious experiences. On the contrary, it has only deepened my private devotions.
One thing that is an ongoing dilemma for me in my spiritual practice, is the question of our relationship with the world. Lately I have recognised this as a continuous oscillating between two very different attitudes.
Many New Age inspired teachings are based on the premise of the power of consciousness, or the law of attraction. I do not subscribe to these teachings without reservation, as I think there are other laws at work in the universe at the same time. But I do find the underlying mindset a helpful way to focus on everything that is good in life, and create more of the same, though. Coming from this strain of thought, I have been overly critical in what I watch, read and eat. I do not have a teflon soul, and especially the dark stuff seems to cling to me. So focusing on the good and light, trying not to do any harm myself, seems like a great strategy for me.
My partner has at times been critical of this, and with good reason. “Just because you do not want to know about it, does not mean it is not happening”. His criticism resonated with me as well. It made me feel a bit silly, because no matter how hard I try to close my eyes, I can still hear the world wail. So I keep oscillating between the two attitudes: personal gratitude and attention for safety, a roof above our heads, beauty and love. At the same time, I feel a deep concern for all that is happening around me. In a way these two attitudes divide my personal life from the greater fate of the world. My life, though not perfect (which life is?) seems to support the first attitude. But when I do read the news or look beyond my own quiet place in the world, I find more evidence for the latter.
I have not found my mode of confronting the world. These questions boil down to a fundamental understanding and belief about the nature of reality itself, so I doubt I will find a definite answer anytime soon. My best guess is that an honest spiritual practice must at the same time acknowledge the power of consciousness, of words and prayer and gratitude, but has to recognise and face the gritty reality around us as well. Words have power, but only if we choose to act on them. How do you reconcile these two points of view, or is there another way?