The spiritual path

Reflexive Spirituality: Seeking the Spiritual Experience in a Modern Society

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Somewhere between modernity and religious tradition lies a middle road known as “reflexive spirituality” that pulls from pluralism, reflexivity, and modern society. Those who practice reflexive spirituality draw equally on religious traditions and traditions of reason in the pursuit of transcendent meaning. In You Can’t Put God in a Box (Oxford University Press, 2014), Kelly Besecke provides a window into the theological thinking of these educated spiritual seekers and religious liberals, and shows how they have come up with a unique way of addressing the problem of modern meaninglessness. The following excerpt, from Chapter 1, explains the background and attitudes of those who practice reflexive spirituality.

Reflexive Spirituality: Finding Meaning in Modern Society

How can I find a spirituality that makes sense to me intellectually? How can I have an intellectual life that speaks to my soul? How can I find meaning in my life and in my religion?

These questions are central to the lives of educated spiritual seekers who find little meaning in either ordinary secularism or traditional religion. On one hand, secular life can seem spiritually empty, focused on the material, the practical, and the expedient, to the exclusion of deeper meanings. On the other hand, religious life can seem intellectually untenable, focused on lists of required beliefs, and dogmatic in a way that leaves no room for critical inquiry. Educated spiritual seekers are looking for something more than these two alternatives offer. They’re looking for a spirituality they can sink their intellectual teeth into and a worldview that puts the mundane into meaningful perspective. Educated seekers are looking for the intersection between “what’s inspiring” and “what makes sense.”

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Hell, Depression, and the Baha’i Faith

Last night I had a dream about hell. Never mind the details – they aren’t nice. The dream got me thinking about hell again, and about the fact that I spent a good part of my life in my own personal hell of depression – right up until my late 40s.

{josquote} why not choose the light?{/josquote}

I want to say here, in case it helps others, how I finally got out of my recurring depressed state. After many decades, I actually managed to talk myself out of depression. I know everyone can’t do that. But for me, depression was all about the fight between the darkness and the light. I don’t know about others, but that’s what it boiled down to for me. I was depressed because I kept on believing, on the basis of, admittedly, very good evidence, that darkness had the upper hand in the world. All around me I saw unhappiness and I could see no reason not to be unhappy too.

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Flying with Baha'u'llah

When I do briefly look at what the Baha'is get up to, I always think that they miss the point of why Baha'u'llah came. I know that the Baha'is like to emphasise the uniting of humanity - and that is certainly one goal - but it is a social goal and it misses the very personal nature of the revelation, which is addressed to each one of us in a very intimate fashion.

Not a rocket ship

As I read the writings, Baha'u'llah had another purpose - one that is central to his revelation - and that is to offer each one of us the opportunity to make the spiritual journey to join him in his spiritual realm of eternal glory. In other words, he came to invite each one of us to come home with him, to be eternally reunited with him in his celestial sanctuary. In a sense, if we choose to, we can climb in our celestial rocket (or, to use Baha'u'llah's image, take the cup of wine offered by the hand of the cup-bearer) and just blast on up to our everlasting nest. Baha'u'llah seeks to be with us, individually. Being a manifestation, he can multitask and give a private audience to an infinite number of people at any one time. So each one of us is invited and is important.

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Monks and Monkhood

{josquote}So I don't think we should get rid of the monkhood. No. I think we should all arise and become monks, in the way that Baha'u'llah encourages.{/josquote}

The other day a friend and I were talking about the beauty of the interfaith movement, and all the trials and victories that go with it. At one point, though, he made some odd reference that I didn't quite get.

"What do you mean", I asked.

"Well, Baha'u'llah said that there should be no more monks." He said it so simply that I felt as if it were something that I should already know.

"He did? Where?"

And thus the search began.

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A Spiritual Guide to Generating Wealth During Difficult Times

{josquote}Before I went bankrupt, I was a member of the Bahá’í Faith who believed that it was more spiritual to be poor than to be rich.{/josquote}

Here are some thoughts I had while working on the booklet True Wealth for Troubled Times. Many of these ideas and quotations were incorporated into that compilation, but some were too personal to include. I hope you find them helpful:

Whether we are unemployed, under-employed, or just feeling poor, financial problems can make us feel unworthy, unsuccessful and unloved. In other words, a crisis in funds can bring about a crisis in faith as well. Where is God when we need Him, anyway?

So let’s start with the basics. Being poor or under financial stress is not a punishment from God. It is not a sign that you are any less worthy of His blessings and assistance than your neighbor. God loves you very much, and wants you to have the very best that life has to offer – both materially and spiritually.

Think about that for a moment.

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