5 Qualities that Mark the “Spiritual”

What does it mean to you?


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“She’s very spiritual,” someone whispered to me the other day, nodding to a mutual acquaintance.

And as I left the conference, I began to muse: What does it mean to be “spiritual”? Can an atheist be spiritual? After thoughtful consideration, I’ve reduced the idea to five qualities. Here they are:

1.You have trust.
You have a profound trust in the goodness of an invisible force surrounding and caring for us—call it what you will, Higher Power, angels, the Universe, Christ, Allah, God. The mystery of goodness and suffering is beyond our human comprehension, but the “spiritual” person lives as if aware of being loved by a force which loved creation into being and which in the words of St. Julian of Norwich “created everything for love.” 

2. You have equanimity.
You don’t minimize the suffering and trials of this world, but you’re confident that woven into the fabric somehow is a hidden and redeeming meaning. You live joyfully, even peacefully, in the midst of uncertainty.    

3. You have optimism
You are open-hearted, and display a delight and fearlessness toward life, coupled with tolerance, purity and simplicity.

4. You have empathy.
Your very soul bends in tenderness toward all living things. You cannot bear discord, violence, dissension, ugliness. You don’t want to argue anymore. You are deeply moved by suffering, betrayal, pain for your soul has grown now very gentle. 

5. You care deeply about others.
You find yourself moving away from egotistical and selfish goals toward concern for others. Operating from a Yes to life, instead of fearful No, you find joy in serving others. Everything can be a service: Cleaning the toilets is a service, mowing your aged neighbor’s lawn, doing your work well, offering a smile. Other-directed, you serve.

But one other quality is harder to define. It’s a joy and luminosity that is felt by everyone in the presence of the spiritual—something that makes one feel better touching it. It’s this that the angels call us to. “Fear not!” they say. And “Dare to believe!” Do you have that?

As we welcome the new year, the media is blasting us with cause for anxiety and concern. Take a moment to step back. Go deep into your center. Breathe in the love of God. That’s quite enough: To know that you are adored beyond your wildest imagining. It’s what the angels tell us all the time. It’s spiritual.

I’ve shared what “spiritual” means to me, but what does it mean to you? I’d be interested in your views. Post your comments on Facebook or at the bottom of this blog.

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