Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What to do when you have no spiritual side?

The job search continues, and posts in various states of completion are still backlogged for the foreseeable future, but there is something to ponder in the meantime. What, if anything, can anyone do if they don't seem to have a spiritual side?

Now those who automatically dismiss any notion of a greater depth to reality than 20th century scientism will allow have nothing really to add. They would say there is no depth, no transcendence, no higher power, or anything of the kind. Got it.

But what about the rest of you?

As a personal hobby I have read and discussed primarily Buddhist and Christian history, philosophy, practice, and contemplative/mystical insights for nearly a decade, with seven of those years spent writing this blog on and off. I practiced a seated meditation and chanting service weekly in group format with a Chan group for 16 months, and after a couple of years in hiatus I tried being baptized, attending weekly Eucharistic services, and praying the Daily (aka Divine) Office for nearly two years. I also spent time regularly serving at a local soup kitchen.

Clearly then I am not someone who is openly hostile to the idea of spirituality or participation in religion. I think my interest has largely been a mixture of admiration for some Christian and Buddhist monks, intellectual curiosity, and social activism. But none of this has been connected in any way to a sense of the numinous, to the smallest spark of faith in something "more" to existence.

Some may classify part of my problem as a form of spiritual narcissism and materialism, wherein I am looking to "gain" something cool or special to enhance my ego. I might buy that. Others may say I am guilty of some kind of pride or cynicism. It's hard to be objective about that. One person I spoke to suggested that the spark of faith doesn't come from books, intellectual analysis, or going through the motions of liturgy and other forms of ritual.

I don't think most sacred traditions have an answer for someone like me because it wouldn't make sense to worry about someone who is faithless being interested in seeking something they have no reason to believe in. What about it? Have any suggestions for people in this situation? Thanks.


  1. I am a Christian priest with no sense of a separate spiritual dimension to life. Life is just life to me. I pray but it's conversation, nothing transcendental. It's a particular problem in my line of work as we are assessed for spiritual development.

    But, I'm okay with it because I realise it is just who I am. I think there are two sorts of Christian, saints and soldiers. My religion tends to venerate the holy but let's be honest here. The holy sit on their behinds having deep thoughts all day whilst the soldiers do most of the work. At the end of the day what does God want? People who flatter "him" or people who get on with the job?

    1. Rev. Hagger, thank you for your reply.

      Do you mean to say you have no inkling inside you whatsoever that there is something divine about the Universe? If so, it's hard for me to understand why one would believe in God, let alone Christianity's representation of God, and serve as a priest. While you may not have any regular sense of some greater depth, have you ever been briefly touched by some greater power or granted some grace that gave you a spark of faith, or do you really have none at all?

  2. I am absolutely fascinated by cosmology and physics, reading and watching everything I can on the subjects. I certainly feel a great sense of awe about such things. But it is a sense of awe about real things. I have the same sense of awe about God. I would replace your phrase "greater depth" with the phrase "things we don't know yet." In other words, everything that exists is real and has the potential to be studied scientifically. Anything that is not objectively real does not exist. It's not that I dismiss everything that people call spiritual, I just don't think they are different in type from everyday reality.


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