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The Need For A Spiritual Backbone

How does our spiritual identity affect our actions and how we shape our world?

Modus Operandi

When I think of the “spirit” of something I think of its modus operandi; what is its “method of operating?” What makes it function? What drives it to work?

When I think of the spirit of a human being, I ask myself, “What does that being live for?” What makes him or her get up every morning? What makes his or her life worth living? What source of energy does that person draw upon to do what they do?

Unspoken Values

Evolution and biology can describe the reasons behind a lot of basic instincts and behavior, but they don’t answer a whole lot about the values we hold implicitly through our traditions, customs, culture, and art.

We all go through rituals that define our existence. It could be watching TV, going to church, reading books, meditating, playing sports, doing your job, eating, videogames, working out at the gym, writing, taking care of your kids… you get the point – if you do it periodically then it is a ritual – and these habits implicitly tell us what we value out of life.

But how often do you ask yourself, “Why do I do the things I do?”

It can seem like a stupid question because we take these things for granted. Maybe you do them because you have always done them and that is just who you are. I hear people give me that response a lot, but that is circular reasoning; saying those things only reinforces who we are, even if that modus operandi isn’t doing ourselves much justice.

Backbone = Identity

I wouldn’t say that our actions define ourselves (although that might be a behaviorist approach to identity), but I do think how we define ourselves plays a significant role in our actions.

Buddism and many Eastern philosophies put a strong emphasis on the “nature of self” as a spiritual guide. They also recognize that how we think of our self determines certain values we hold about our world. For example, many schools of Buddhism recognize a non-dualistic nature between self/other (that we are all interconnected and no one is separate), thus compassion and loving-kindness become logical moral values to hold in our relationships with friends, family, neighbors, coworkers other acquaintances, and nature itself.

Some of the big questions regarding anybody’s life are,
“How do I fit into the world at large?”
“What purpose do I serve in life?”
“How can I improve conditions for myself and others?”

Only you can answer these questions with your own reason and experience, but let it be known that your answers have a profound impact on how you live your life. Thus, I would argue these questions are worth contemplating through daily introspection, meditation, or prayer.

Getting Off The Soapbox For A Moment

Before I conclude this post let me just clear up a few things that often get misunderstood when I write about spirituality. I do not intend to change anyone’s values or how they live their life. What I am suggesting is that we take the time to question why we live the way we do. It is a deep question, directed towards you, but not one that I can provide the answers for.

I think when we try to make a change or improvement in our lives we often take the most basic questions for granted. But often those fundamental questions are the catalysts for the biggest improvements one can make in their life.

I write in order to get people thinking and re-evaluating that world which we take for granted. I want to bring into light implicit assumptions and beliefs, and get individuals to think critically about these ideas they have grown up with all their life. Through doing this individuals can grow a stronger backbone, become more dedicated to what they actually love to do, and drop actions which have become “no good” habits of familiarity that we have wrongly identified to.

But – because we are all diverse individuals with separate interests and talents – it is up to each from their own individual perspective to decide what is right and wrong for them. There is no objective good for everyone; our traditions, culture, art, and tastes (our “pursuit of happiness”) should be particular to our personality. We should not take anything as given just because we have grown up with it or some higher authority has “bestowed” it upon us. Even the values I hold implicitly in my writings should be doubted and questioned.

A Healthy Backbone Builds New Elements, Gets Rid Of Old

A spiritual backbone gives you a center to stand on but it is not necessarily fixed in one place. Just like your spine is built of various bone elements, your spiritual spine too is mobile and multi-faceted. The only thing different is your spiritual spine never stops growing and evolving in new ways (whether you are conscious of it or not).

Your relationship with the world is never fixed, it is always changing; new aspects are constantly arising and fading into the ever-expanding shape of time. From a day-to-day basis things may seem to be moving slow, but when you reflect on months or years they can seem like eternities apart. The world is actually a really exciting and dynamic place if we keep our eyes open to it. Not many things remain the same over extended periods of time. Isn’t that what evolution is all about?

The only thing worse than not having a spiritual backbone at all is having a concrete one, which refuses to change in the face of new evidence and experience. Extreme fundamentalists from all religions share this illness, like when biblical literalism takes precedence over scientifically-gathered facts.

Man is not omniscient nor infallible, that is why God forgives and, most importantly, why we should forgive ourselves. All actions and creations of men, including the Bible, are not perfect. This is why spirituality in all of its form is a never-ending process and not a goal-seeking one.

Living In Congruence

When our unspoken values become spoken we are more conscious of the driving forces in our world. Now we know why we get up every morning and we are proud to live out our lives in congruences with those values.

This requires a higher level of consciousness. No longer is our modus operandi like a puppet on strings, but now we are the puppet masters. We understand the reason behind our rituals; we don’t just live them out obediently but with a sense of joy, flow, and engagement. There is purpose behind every action. We embody what we believe and we act in accordance. As Gandhi once said, we “Become the change we wish to see in the world.” Within that cycle, within every action, we are constantly being born and re-born into a different world.

So don’t stay static, never be afraid to re-align your spiritual backbone, and keep living the life you want to live (as you see fit). The world depends on your moral courage and aptitude.

6 Responses
1432897 tn?1322963137
About 5yrs ago I got involved with a twelve step program and learned to honestly look at myself and the reasons why I do the things I do.  Sometimes I get a pretty good laugh too.  One of the things I learned early on was to let go of old ideas.  Many of my old ways of living were harmful to myself and possibly others.  I had to let go and open up so I could receive a new way to live.  To this day I try to practice that.  Even with things that were new to me 5 yrs ago.  Being open to new ideas and ways that will work today help me to accept change and God's will for me.  Learning to understand what makes me tick has helped me to make the necessary changes in my life to be a better person.  Continueing to grow based on the principles I have been taught is still worthwhile today.  With growth comes new challenges.  With new challenges comes more growth.  Welcome to a not so viscous circle. LOL!!!!
908392 tn?1316526499
How does our spiritual identity affect our actions and how we shape our world?

You know once you discover Bible truth, if you don't want to tell everyone around you about it, there's something wrong with you. That's a conversion experience. Also, those people out there who don't know, what's their probability of Salvation? Somebody has to tell them. You have to tell them the truth! I'm hoping that by every Christian being genuine and sharing this truth it would change the world.

I for one get so much opposition sometimes. Like Jeremiah I say, "I don't want to speak about this anymore Lord, I'm not going to do this anymore. I don't know why I have to be bashed on my head all the time over this. I've had it!"  And then what does Jeremiah say? "Ah, but your word was a fire in my heart.." and there you go, you just keep on going and get bashed again.

I've come to the conclusion now that nothing that you say or do will convince anybody. The Bible already says that. All we can do is sow, we cannot convict. That's the missing equation. On the basis of logic alone, I can defend my faith, but the Holy Spirit does the rest. John 16:8 say that the Holy Spirit "will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of Judgement." Our job is to share the truth, and to pray that the Spirit will work in the hearts of our friends who cannot yet see the truth. And when the world accepts Jesus in their hearts and live righteously we can change the world.

If you can see Jesus changing you within, there is no doubt that Jesus within can change your community without. Everything you touch will be a blessing. :)
Avatar universal

You know once you discover Bible truth, if you don't want to tell everyone around you about it, there's something wrong with you. That's a conversion experience
That's exactly it. And those who don't believe but at least see how wrong you would be IF you didn't tell them, I must say I tip my hat to them.
At least they understand that we do it out of Love,- love for them, for people.
Its for no other reason but love though I do totally understand how people don't see it that way most times, I do. Having them accept Christ does not win us a spot in Heaven, its already ours, He paid the price. We just accept what He did for us as a gift. So simple.

I think at one time it would get me mad that I was attacked all the time and still am at times for sharing the Gospel,but now as God continues to help me grow, I can truly see how Jesus said Father forgive them for they know not what they do.  
I think I too would be upset just like them if I didn't have an open mind towards the Gospel and I saw all these people around me trying to say their way was the only way.

It might have bothered me too but I really wanted to know IF all this stuff was really true(when I was searching) and I dug deep because lets face it Eternity is for a long time - forever - and I don't want to miss the boat, thats for sure...satan has sold a lie, hook, line and sinker and many people have latched on, and that lie is - "be good and you will go to heaven." Well if that was the case Jesus died a horrible death in Vain. But thats not the case. His death was Victorious.
908392 tn?1316526499
Yes I don't want to be a wishy-washy christian and I don't know a christian who sees that as something to be desired. God detests a Christian who lives not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings so they say nothing. I think it makes what Jesus did for us as nothing significant if we say that all religions are equal and there are many different paths. If you truly are grateful of all Jesus has done for you, you will be like the woman at the well who ran excitingly leaving her pot behind to tell others the wonderful truths she had learned.

Some people will receive you and others will not. It is not us they are really rejecting and we shouldn't take it to heart, but we do. Especially when we come with great news with love and you get mocked and attacked for it. I can see some getting discouraged sometimes but we still go on. Right now we aren't being persecuted and we're scared. What will happen when we are being persecuted? The world cannot understand what we have and it is our job to tell them. If we don't, how can we say we are Christians. True Christians are the bearers of light, not hiding it for ourselves. If we don't share what we have we show that we don't have the character of Christ and we don't care about others.
1462810 tn?1327364049
And Punkinhead...

What you said made me realize that some of the worst times of my life were based on an unwillingness to accept that my situation had changed, the struggle to recover the old situation did nothing but compound the misery and keep me from moving forward and growing from the experience.   I really hate to admit it, but it really bugs me to not get my own way.  

The relief doesn't come until I stop and say, "Your will and not my own, God."
Avatar universal
Spirituality.... I'm all for it.  But, one's convictions should not impede on anothers.  Religion is good with that... take religion out of spirituality and I think you have a peaceful people.
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