We often hear the word spiritual, spirituality and people often say, “use your heart, not your brain,” in terms of feelings and spirituality. Below is a definition that offers thoughts about what some people might consider spirituality.
Spirituality is an omnibus term. It means different things to different people and is notoriously difficult to encapsulate in a neat and comprehensive definition. Commenting on the meanings of the word in the west in the 1980s, William Stringfellow observes: ‘Spirituality’ may indicate stoic attitudes, occult phenomena, the practice of so-called mind control, yoga discipline, escapist fantasies, interior journeys, an appreciation of eastern religions, multifarious pious exercises, superstitious imaginations, intensive journals, dynamic muscle tension, assorted dietary regimens, meditation, jogging cults, monastic rigours, mortification of the flesh, wilderness sojourns, political resistance, contemplation, abstinence, hospitality, a vocation of poverty, non-violence, silence, the efforts of prayer, obedience, generosity, exhibiting stigmata, entering solitude, or, I suppose, among these and many other things, squatting on top of a pillar. (cited in Leech 1992, p. 3)
People associate the heart to spiritual generally speaking.
What people don’t say often is your heart can deceive you! Yes, if your mind is all over the shop your decision making, even from your heart, or in other words your spiritual centre for many, is still going to be compromised. You can only understand the true motivations of your heart with a clear mind. Like my grandparents advice, “you should sleep on that, and make your decisions more clearly in the morning!” Where our minds go we go, and the feelings in our hearts, often interpreted as spiritual, are about as reliable as getting a good night’s sleep! You know I love reading and studying. These wise words of the Buddha below help explain the consequences of a mixed up mind or clear rational thinking. Don’t misinterpret me, I am not advocating, don’t trust gut feeling, or emotionally driven heart feeling, I am highlighting the dangers of thinking it’s a reliable, infallible source for direction in our lives.
“What do you think, Kalamas? When lack of delusion arises in a person, does it arise for welfare or for harm?”
“For welfare, lord.”
“And this undeluded person, not overcome by delusion, his mind not possessed by delusion, doesn’t kill living beings, take what is not given, go after another person’s wife, tell lies, or induce others to do likewise, all of which is for long-term welfare & happiness.”
First Discourses and
Many people who are monotheistic followers believe God lives in their heart. The bible has a lot of wonderful things to say about the heart but this verse is not mentioned often.
Jeremiah 17:9 English Standard Version (ESV)
9 The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
I am not saying people of faith communities are all lost? No, I am simply highlighting Jeremiah’s troubles, Cleary with his emotional centre or heart. How many people say, God told me this and years down the track, blame God for the mess they are in? My point all humans, regardless of faith, religions, make terrible decisions based on strong emotions, often claiming it feels like the right thing to do, feels good in my heart!
What to do?
As the lotus
is unsmeared by water & mud,
so the sage, an exponent of peace, without greed, is unsmeared
by sensuality & the world.
Sutta Nipata 4.9
How we live is a key ingredient to a healthy mind, healthy mind is the key ingredient in understanding our hearts. We cannot live immoral lives and experiences good decisions, relationships and wholesome choices. People who just live in the external world driven by circumstances and emotional roller coasters, go from one crisis to the next. You know they type, I always meet the same type of girl / guy and end up with the same heart breaking story.
We can train our minds and condition ourselves not to be emotional drive, or reactionary beings. Regardless of what you think about the Buddhist religion. At its grass roots, it’s about observations on cause and effect.
1. based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.
Many people and traditions can turn Buddha’s teaching into supernatural, metaphysics or religious worshiping . However, it’s not the fundamental truth of The Buddha’s teachings.
Great examples below.
A 5.2 Vitthara Sutta Strengths in Detail
“Monks, there are these five strengths for one in training. Which five? Strength of conviction, strength of conscience, strength of concern, strength of persistence, & strength of discernment.
You don’t need to be a spiritual person to train your mind or meditate. You don’t have to be awesome, or find a guru to help you. Of course we all need help and coaching is great, but basic things like cleaning up our act in terms of being honesty, dependability, and kindness is easily achieved on our own. To see ourselves, in terms of spirituality and our hearts we need to clean our internal world up. Let go of the anger, jealousy and other baggage we carry about with us. No point waking up and managing the same destructive things, cigarettes, eating in excess or even continuing a toxic relationship. Oftentimes we just need to have a break and regroup. There are many things we can do to assist us to make wholesome decisions. One very simple one is to be empathetic… easy, just put yourself in the place of another.
Lets look after our minds and start today. It’s not hard to just turn Tv off or go for a walk. I love walking and it certainly clears my confused thoughts and racing mind at times. It’s a challenge to look in the mirror and accept who we are today, not some version we would like in the future, or bath in our glory days. Just be honest with what we see and work with that incrementally everyday in complete honesty and love.