I picked up this book as it was the book club pick for Stratejoy & I was a little apprehensive going into it about stepping outside of mainstream Christian readings. However, the idea that all of major world’s religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism) all shared these core principles about how to be more spiritual. I’m so glad that I read this book, and it was really interesting to me all the similarities and themes that were common across so many religions.
I’d decided to take notes in my journal on this book & I’m really glad that I made this effort- there were so many great lessons and things that I learned. The first few chapters were challenging reading, but once I got through them a light bulb really went off for me. Been on a bit of a quest lately, soaking up lots of information about consciousness, spirituality, and soul health. It’s a really big topic that’s challenging to wrap your mind around and really feel comfortable talking about it or feeling like I have anything cohesive to say about it. At this moment, spirituality to me is being more fully present and aware in the moment, and living a life of gratitude, service, and compassion.
According to the book, the purpose of increasing our spirituality is to be more ethical (make moral choices & actions), improved concentration (deeper thinking & enhanced presence), and wisdom (beyond knowledge).
- The first exercise was about transforming motivation, or reducing our cravings and finding the soul’s desire. This really struck home with me where we live in a society obsessed with happiness and obtaining material possessions. We try to control every outcome and spend immense time and energy (and worry) attempting to guarantee a specific result. All this craving, which is never satisfied even when we get our desires, just causes unnecessary suffering & we are better served by not attaching our happiness to outcomes but seeking higher motives (truth & justice, kindness & altruism, and beauty/sacred).
- Cultivating emotional wisdom instructs us to heal the heart (learn to forgive) and learn to love (not lust or cheap love). Having greater control over our emotions (and emotional reactions) is really a powerful tool that so many people could really benefit from in life.
- Living ethically is another common theme among all religions and includes the idea that we feel good when we do good by increasing our positive emotions and decreasing the mental turmoil (guilt/grief) we must manage.
- By improving concentration and calming the mind (meditation), mindfulness is increases and we are less likely to let the subconscious control the conscious or behaviors. (mindfulness turned inward)
- To awaken the spiritual vision is another shared practice among the religions which aids us in seeing clearly and recognizing the sacred in the everyday and everything. (mindfulness turned outward)
- All major religions also advocate cultivating spiritual intelligence which is the basis for wisdom and help us understand the life (purpose & death) beyond just intelligence, knowledge, experiences or power. Both having vision (understanding) and the wisdom to know how to take practical actions are important to tackling the deeper questions of nature, life, God, and the mind.
- The final shared spirituality practice is applying all these principles to action through the joy of service to others and expressing generosity. Realizing that every action can be service to others, transforming the motivations towards love, kindness, and compassion is the key to releasing attachments (#1) and helping us heal our wounds (#2).
These exercises were quite valuable to me as I am on this journey towards enlightenment, and I thought it was so fascinating that all these religions had shared themes and goal even if they used different methods to arrive at spirituality. This is a great book & I highly recommend it to those who are looking for something a little different than a typical “christian book” but also want to learn ways our faith should really be making a big impact in our daily lives.
GOOD NEWS OF THE DAY: Hanging out with my sister for dinner & helping her plan her summer trip to Cali.