The Qualities of a Spiritual Life

By Jose Bulao

The first quality of a genuine spiritual life is its inner dynamism. This is because the source of this life is from within the person. It is not something that is imposed from without. If there is something in this life that is imposed from the outside, it may be a religious life but it is not a spiritual life.

This is why a person cannot just fall into this kind of life. It is something that he purposely enters into. He may be led into it by circumstances, such as problems that he thinks he can no longer bear. He may be initiated into it by a teacher who is kind and loving to others. But the final step into this kind of life is something that he takes by his own will. He cannot enter into this kind of life like a child who is baptized and whose responses to the officiating minister is done by his parents and sponsors.

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The second quality of a spiritual life is its being situated in the infinite ocean of life. The person living this life knows that it is not alone, that it is connected to an infinitely expanding universe that is mostly spiritual, that is, unseen. The average person does not know this. He thinks that only what he sees around him exists. The person who lives the spiritual life knows otherwise. He knows there is more to life that what he sees, there are more varieties of life in spaces and worlds unknown to us.

The scientists have been searching for life beyond our planet earth, beyond our planetary system, beyond our Milky Way. The person with a genuine spirituality knows that there is life out there, even beyond the billions of stars and galaxies around us. He does not have to search for life there. He knows it is there.

The spiritual life is here and now, there and beyond.

The third quality of a spiritual life is that it is humbled by the immensity of life surrounding itself. It has a humble perspective. The spiritual life makes a person humble. The person knows he is less than a speck in this wide world. And he conducts himself accordingly. He does not boast of anything and he cannot boast when he sees all these life forms around him in all their variety and richness.

The fourth quality of a spiritual life is that it is confident that things would turn out ultimately well for the individual person and for the entire universe. It follows the philosophy of the poem Desiderata that whether we know it or not the universe is unfolding as it should. The spiritual person is not discouraged by the escalating crimes and terrorism he sees in the world around him. He does not disregard these as unreal. He feels compassion for the victims of these outbursts of violence. But deep in his heart he knows that the world is getting more and more spiritual, therefore more transformed to the image of the Spirit who is goodness itself.

The basis of his hope is not in his belief that human beings are basically good. His basis is the fact that the Spirit will ultimately triumph over matter, the spiritual over the material.

The fifth quality of a spiritual life is its absence of worry. It is thoroughly happy and peaceful. This of course flows from the qualities above. But this quality is not like that of the stoic who happily endures everything, even the evils and suffering around him. The person with a genuine spiritual life is happy and peaceful because he knows with absolute certainty that death is not the end of life but the entrance to a better way of living, the full flowering of the spirit life.

These are the qualities of a truly genuine spiritual life: it has an inner dynamism, it is situated in an infinite ocean of life, it is humbled by the immensity of life around it, it is thoroughly confident and optimistic, and it is completely happy and peaceful.

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