The Essence of Spirituality

Girl with a Pearl Earring
Johannes Vermeer 1665

Ultimately, spirituality is about people and how they interact with one another.

Like art, spirituality is a personal expression of beauty, emotion, and soul.

The Universal Religion

Universal Love

The universal religion:

Universal kinship, love, compassion, and kindness for each other and for all living things.

This is how we worship.

This is how we demonstrate our love for God

…For all things are part of Him.

You might like to see the following related article:

One Religion or No Religion?

One God, One People

Spiritual Kinship

How Life Works: The Law of Cause and Effect

The short answer is that how our lives unfold depends on our outlook, motivations, intentions, and how we treat others. The effect of these factors on the quality and prevailing course of a person’s life is governed by two interrelated natural or spiritual laws.

The Law of Cause and Effect

This law embodies the biblical saying “You reap what you sow.” It is also related to the popular concept of karma which says that we create our own futures (in this life or the next) by our actions and how we treat others. If we do not stop our wrongdoing and change how we live our lives for the better, then we can expect an ongoing chain of negative effects on us and those around us. However, cause and effect provides the opportunity to break free from past bad behaviors and attitudes, and change our future.

Even as our karma plays out, we can decide what direction our life will take. Will we choose a fulfilling and happy life of goodness, love, and compassion, or a life of bitterness, jealousy, selfishness, greed, and hate devoid of any redeeming factors? Will we surrender to the darkness we have brought upon ourselves, or will we refuse to give up and instead emerge from the muck and blaze a new path toward spiritual awareness?

The Law of Compensation and Retribution

The Law of Compensation and Retribution is inherent in, and a natural consequence of, the Law of Cause and Effect. You will be rewarded for striving to live a life of goodness, and for helping others any way you can. Unselfish acts of loving kindness can compensate for past wrongdoing and transgressions of spiritual laws. However, wrongdoing in the absence of compensatory acts will result in retribution that leads to a life of suffering, unhappiness, and regret.

Thus, through free will and cause and effect, each of us determines the course of our own lives. With few exceptions, the outcome cannot be attributed to anyone or anything other than ourselves.

This is a critical principle of spiritual law that once understood makes it possible for us to find true happiness and fulfillment. It means that we have the power to change our lives for the better, and through our love and compassion the lives of others. It provides the opportunity to progress spiritually and fulfill our purpose in this life on Earth.

The laws of cause and effect and compensation and retribution, like the Law of Gravity, once set into motion by our creator require no ongoing oversight. The spiritual laws operate automatically and assure accountability and justice concerning all of our thoughts and actions. I hope that everyone can appreciate what a simple and perfect plan this is. We get exactly what we deserve in terms of punishment or reward. It is the ultimate learning tool.

Author’s Note
The natural or spiritual laws discussed here can be found in various books in the Silver Birch series (e.g., The Teachings of Silver Birch).

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A Path From Darkness

How is My Divine Self Revealed

The Divine Virtues

How is My Divine Self Revealed?

With permission. Copyright 2012 by

With permission. Copyright 2012 by

If I am a child of God, then what is the essence of my divine nature? How is my divine self revealed?

I believe that the divine self is manifested by the spirit and that love and compassion are spiritual attributes. Therefore, one way in which we reveal our divinity is by expression of love and compassion for all things.

Compassion is not an attribute exclusive to people of religious faith. In fact, it did not originate in religion; rather, it is an aspect of our in-born divine nature. It is an attribute of humanity. Everyone has it, but we often get lost from time to time on our life path and stray from our inherent loving and generous nature. What is important is that we recognize that the spiritual gifts of love and compassion are at the core of our being; that when we express these qualities, we are revealing our divinity to ourselves and to those whose lives we touch.

Nothing is more rewarding or more important in life than sharing these spiritual gifts with others. What is important in the pursuit of meaning in our lives is that we all aspire and strive to express our divinity in various ways on a daily basis. It is through these actions that our divine self is revealed.

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From What Purpose Comes Meaning?

Meaning of Life

“Teacher, why am I here?” I asked.

“You are here to change the world,” the teacher replied in a matter-of-fact tone.

Taken aback I asked, “How can I change the world when I am only one among billions?”

“Ah, but you are not alone in this,” he said. “There are many like you around the world seeking to expand their spiritual awareness. There are even more who seek meaning for their lives, but are not yet spiritually aware.”

“But teacher, what is it that gives life meaning, or perhaps I should say: what is the meaning of life?” I wondered.

He smiled as a parent might to a child’s simple-minded question and replied, “There are some who seek meaning by pursuing a career. Others seek meaning through their family life. Still others seek meaning through devotion to their religion, but the answer is much more basic than these things.”

“I can see where one could get some measure of satisfaction and fulfillment from each of these,” I said.

“Yes, but there is something more fundamental that brings meaning to these and all human endeavors,” replied the teacher.

Not understanding where the teacher was going with this, I asked, “What is more basic than making one’s way in the world, love of family, and devotion to God?” When I heard his answer, I felt as if I were indeed a naive child again.

He said, “You must understand that all of the children of earth have kinship with one another. All of humanity arose from one and the same God the Father. Consequently, you are expected to give all persons you meet the same love and compassion that you would to your own parents, siblings, children, and so forth. It is helping and serving others that is most fulfilling and that gives life its true meaning.”

Trying to grasp a deeper understanding of what the teacher was saying, I declared, “So what you are saying is that love and compassion should underlie and guide all human interactions.”

“Yes, that is why you are here! That is how you will change the world! That is your life’s purpose!” he said. “This is the lesson that humanity must learn!”

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The Accidental Ascetic

Zen Garden Source:

Zen Garden

Over the last several years I have become an accidental ascetic of sorts. It was not a conscious decision or goal; rather, it was a natural progression of an evolving spirituality and lifestyle.

I acknowledge that what I am about to describe is not for everyone and I am not suggesting that anyone should try to emulate my path. Each of us will be led down our respective spiritual paths naturally.

My children have on occasion half jokingly (or half seriously) pictured me as a Buddhist monk or similar, cloistered in my home practicing qigong and tai chi and burning incense. The fact is, I do keep largely to myself and practice the above Asian energy arts daily. I also meditate twice a day and pray on and off as I move through my day as things come to mind. But these things are only a part of my life, not its totality.

Becoming a vegetarian was a key step in my accidental progression toward asceticism. Denying myself of the many foods that I once enjoyed, especially animal flesh, was cleansing, not only for my body, but also for my spirit. I surprised myself with the determination and total commitment and conviction that I brought to the challenge. It showed me an inner strength of which I was not aware.

However, my vegetarianism did not arise for the sake of self-sacrifice or asceticism. Instead, it came from a strong belief that it is wrong to raise animals in large numbers for food. I could no longer support the barbaric treatment of farmed animals.

I have been vegetarian for almost three years now and I have never wavered from my pledge. One of the collateral outcomes of my vegetarianism was a very limited menu of only a few dishes that I prepare for myself—nevertheless, much better than the tasteless porridge some monks may eat.

Another incidental outcome is that I rarely eat in restaurants because gluten-free vegetarian meals are rare or nonexistent at most eating establishments. This also makes it difficult to travel which is something else I have had to curtail.

But my so-called asceticism goes further. For example, I care little about material things. I have no desire to further enrich myself with money, things, recognition, or position. Furthermore, I am not the least bit impressed by those who seek notice for what they have or appear to have. However, I do take notice of those in need and support a number of charities throughout the year.

Part of (or perhaps as a result of) my apparent asceticism is a gradual shift away from things of the material world to the things of spirit. That is, a shift to spiritual values and seeing the world through spirit eyes. For me, this is the value and benefit of moving toward a somewhat ascetic way of life.

Although far from the true ascetic, the degree of asceticism that characterizes my life now, helps me to put things in proper perspective and to see myself within and among the sea of humanity, not detached, beyond, or above it. I see our collective and individual suffering and wish to somehow ease it through healing, service, and prayer.

The purpose of life, both in body and spirit form, is to serve others with love and compassion. Doing so is what gives our lives meaning, and what demonstrates the divinity within each and every one of us.

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The Meaning of Life and Other Age-Old Questions

There are a number of very basic questions concerning our existence that almost everyone asks at some point in their life. Things like why am I here? What is my purpose in life? What is the meaning of life? What is God’s plan? These are questions that mull over deep inside everyone of us even if they are never uttered, allowed to come to full consciousness, or faced with conviction to find the answers. Such questions are fundamental to the human condition.

Many seek answers, but fail to find them. Others do not know where to look. Still others do not recognize the answers when they find them because they seem too simple. There are also those who do not believe the answers when they find them because they do not trust the source.

The general life plan for all of us is a surprisingly simple one. It is governed by a set of very simple and basic laws. Like many readers, I sought answers in the scriptures of various religions. The answers are there, but often hard to clearly identify and organize into an easy to follow road map, because it is sometimes difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

There is a wonderful book that I would like to recommend to you that I believe may, at least for some of you, answer several of the questions above and a wide variety of questions relating to spirituality, the afterlife, and more. It is titled The Teachings of Silver Birch. Knowing the diversity of my readership, there will likely be a wide spectrum of views about the source of the teachings, as well as the their content.

The book is not based on religion, only on a belief in a higher being. Silver Birch speaks to us from the world of spirit and answers a wide variety of questions concerning spirituality in very simple and understandable terms.

Whether you believe in spirits and mediums or not, when you read this book, you likely will intuitively know that it speaks the truth. If you should be skeptical about the source of the knowledge that this book offers, I urge you to read the book anyway. It provides much food for thought.

You may come away amazed at how simple and clear God’s plan really is. Moreover, having read this book, if you go back to the scriptures, you will see many of the same teachings, but not so clearly stated.

If you find the book to be useful, then please share it and/or this article with others. After you have read the book, I would  very much like to hear your thoughts on its message, or how it impacted you.

The book can be purchased here. The description provided on the web site is lacking to say the least. Please rely on what I have told about the book to make your purchase decision.

Exploring Spirituality Beyond the Confines of Religion

For the last ten months, the tag line for this blog was Exploring What It Means to be a Spiritual Person. That topic remains relevant to past and future content.

The tag line was changed to the title above in the hope of clarifying that the articles then and now, are presented for the benefit of both those who participate in a religion and those who do not. As time has passed, it became clear that this blog may provide a refuge for thought, reflection, and inspiration for people with very diverse views of religion and spirituality, including the growing number of people who have abandoned participation in the rituals of their faith, and/or who have come to question some of the doctrines of their religion.

I was raised Catholic, but in young adulthood left the church to strike a path free of religious doctrine and ritual choosing instead to seek what I believed to be a more free and pure spirituality. At the same time, I never abandoned or doubted my belief in a Creator.

After leaving the church, my relationship with God continued to strengthened and my spiritual awareness expanded greatly unfettered by the restrictions and synoptic vision of the church. I did a brief survey of world religions, not looking for a new home, but to expose myself to different ways of looking at the nature of God and our existence.

One of the goals of this blog is to identify the basic elements of spirituality without regard to religion and to seek ways to apply these in everyday life. I would leave modes of worship or ritual (if any) to the individual whether it should include attending religious services or not.

What is discussed here is presented with the hope that anyone reading the articles will benefit in some way. My intent is to provide discussion and ideas for reflection in simple language that is easily understood and, when appropriate to the topic, actionable.

If you are new to this blog, then I invite you to peruse the array of short articles in the archives which attempt to identify the various facets of what it means to be a spiritual person. The collection represents a very personal exploration of my own spirituality and how it relates to the world as a whole. I hope that you will choose to join me in my quest for deeper understanding of the meaning of life, and an expansion of spiritual awareness.

Charity Doth Call My Spirit Forth


Charity that comes from the heart is an act of love and compassion where the spirit reveals itself in all of its divine glory. It raises us up ever so slightly so that our feet seem to lose touch with the ground, if only briefly. With each charitable act, a wave of happiness and fulfillment washes over us and for those few moments, we understand the meaning and purpose of life. We realize that our joy comes from giving of ourselves—our spirit selves—to others.

But too often these moments are fleeting. When our feet touch the ground again, we find ourselves yearning to soar once more, free of the constraints, obligations, and selfish desires of the physical life. But it is not our time to fly away just yet. We must prove ourselves worthy of wings.

It is my belief that charity is a human and spiritual responsibility. We must strive to make charity a central part of our everyday life. Charity is an important way that we can express our spirit or spirituality. In its pure form it is an act of unselfish love and compassion with no expectation or desire for material gain or recognition.

If you make a big deal about how much you contribute to charity or about things you do to help others, you seek to raise yourself up in the eyes of others. On the other hand, if you are humble and your charity is motivated only by genuine caring for others, you raise yourself up in the eyes of God.

The charity of a spiritual person is generally done privately and seen only by those they are helping, or by the charitable foundation receiving their donations. That is to say, they do it because they see people in need and they know the right thing to do is help if they can.