There are a lot of things that could be a part of a transformational spiritual practice. But will the average person have the time or inclination to really maintain a practice?
Lately I have been wondering about this. The journey I went through before founding SNS was incredibly transformational. You could say I am quite a zealot for Spiritual Naturalism – a true believer! But it was a series of experiences, peppered by the occasional ecstatic epiphany, over many years that opened my eyes. First, I became aware of some remarkable things about complexity that changed the way I looked at the world, which I later realized had been a part of Taoist observations and those of the likes of Heraclitus. Then I eventually became aware of, more practically, how those perspectives intersect with prescriptions on how we live. Later a great deal of ancient philosophy opened me to how a sense of the sacred and a willingness to buck the common expectations of the world are not only the domain of supernatural religion. And sometime after engaging in several kinds of rituals I started to see their function in deep transformation, what makes the difference between meaningful ritual and empty theater, and the important and pragmatic role ritual can have for a naturalist without any reference to supernatural beliefs or basis. And, of course, my continued practice of meditation has helped my progress in ways I never would have expected.
And so the Society works to help educate on and promote all these various teachings and practices, for the benefit of naturalists who wish to explore such paths. But then I imagine most people: stressed from a long day’s work; struggling to provide for their kids, get them fed, homeworked, and in bed every night; and dealing with home, family, and all the other issues that come up. These things are fascinating to read and think about. Often just reading wise thoughts can help us focus on things and help fortify us in harder times, but reading alone won’t result in deeper transformation that provides the most powerful results. But I think all of those as inspired by these thoughts have a mental image in the back of our minds somewhere of our ideal selves in such a practice. But, realistically, how can a person actually make use of all this in real life?
And I think that’s why we get so many tens of thousands of friends following us, subscribing, visiting the website, and reading – but such a smaller percentage of that coming to online events, forming local groups, and becoming supporting members. We have a great deal to be thankful for, for all of our community, no matter what level they are involved. But it is important to think about things like this for the purposes of serving people in ways that will be of greatest benefit.
So what I’m thinking about lately is coming up with ways to more effectively share and communicate powerful, simple, techniques that can be easily incorporated into a busy life – without having to put everything on pause or set aside large chunks of time or other resources. These “integrated practices”, I call them, begin to shape us in ways that will provide tangible results in happier, more flourishing, lives. As one experiences these results, it will be easier to make further progress. I may even work out a program several people can join in together to support one another.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the clash between the ‘ideal’ of spiritual practice and the realities of everyday life – as well as your own experiences and concerns! Please feel free to comment here or contact me any time!
The Spiritual Naturalist Society works to spread awareness of spiritual naturalism as a way of life, develop its thought and practice, and help bring together like-minded practitioners in fellowship.