To grow spiritually
in a world defined by power, money, and influence is a Herculean
task. Modern conveniences such as electronic equipments, gadgets,
and tools as well as entertainment through television, magazines,
and the web have predisposed us to confine our attention mostly to
physical needs and wants. As a result, our concepts of self-worth
and self-meaning are muddled. How can we strike a balance between
the material and spiritual aspects of our lives?
To grow spiritually is to look inward.
Introspection goes beyond recalling the things that happened in a
day, week, or month. You need to look closely and reflect on your
thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and motivations. Periodically
examining your experiences, the decisions you make, the
relationships you have, and the things you engage in provide
useful insights on your life goals, on the good traits you must
sustain and the bad traits you have to discard. Moreover, it gives
you clues on how to act, react, and conduct yourself in the midst
of any situation. Like any skill, introspection can be learned;
all it takes is the courage and willingness to seek the truths
that lie within you. Here are some pointers when you introspect:
be objective, be forgiving of yourself, and focus on your areas
To grow spiritually is to develop your potentials.
Religion and science have differing views on matters of the human
spirit. Religion views people as spiritual beings temporarily
living on Earth, while science views the spirit as just one
dimension of an individual. Mastery of the self is a recurring
theme in both Christian (Western) and Islamic (Eastern) teachings.
The needs of the body are recognized but placed under the needs of
the spirit. Beliefs, values, morality, rules, experiences, and
good works provide the blueprint to ensure the growth of the
spiritual being. In Psychology, realizing one’s full potential is
to self-actualize. Maslow identified several human needs:
physiological, security, belongingness, esteem, cognitive,
aesthetic, self-actualization, and self-transcendence. James
earlier categorized these needs into three: material, emotional,
and spiritual. When you have satisfied the basic physiological and
emotional needs, spiritual or existential needs come next.
Achieving each need leads to the total development of the
individual. Perhaps the difference between these two religions and
psychology is the end of self-development: Christianity and Islam
see that self-development is a means toward serving God, while
psychology view that self-development is an end by itself.
To grow spiritually is to search for meaning.
Religions that believe in the existence of God such as
Christianism, Judaism, and Islam suppose that the purpose of the
human life is to serve the Creator of all things. Several theories
in psychology propose that we ultimately give meaning to our
lives. Whether we believe that life’s meaning is pre-determined or
self-directed, to grow in spirit is to realize that we do not
merely exist. We do not know the meaning of our lives at birth;
but we gain knowledge and wisdom from our interactions with people
and from our actions and reactions to the situations we are in. As
we discover this meaning, there are certain beliefs and values
that we reject and affirm. Our lives have purpose. This purpose
puts all our physical, emotional, and intellectual potentials into
use; sustains us during trying times; and gives us something to
look forward to---a goal to achieve, a destination to reach. A
person without purpose or meaning is like a drifting ship at sea.
To grow spiritually is to recognize interconnections.
Religions stress the concept of our relatedness to all creation,
live and inanimate. Thus we call other people “brothers and
sisters” even if there are no direct blood relations. Moreover,
deity-centered religions such as Christianity and Islam speak of
the relationship between humans and a higher being. On the other
hand, science expounds on our link to other living things through
the evolution theory. This relatedness is clearly seen in the
concept of ecology, the interaction between living and non-living
things. In psychology, connectedness is a characteristic of
self-transcendence, the highest human need according to Maslow.
Recognizing your connection to all things makes you more humble
and respectful of people, animals, plants, and things in nature.
It makes you appreciate everything around you. It moves you to go
beyond your comfort zone and reach out to other people, and become
stewards of all other things around you.
Growth is a process thus to grow in spirit is a day-to-day
encounter. We win some, we lose some, but the important thing is
that we learn, and from this knowledge, further spiritual growth
is made possible.