When I was young and in school, we took foreign language. Being raised in Minnesota, we had the option of Spanish, French or German. The first language I started to learn was German. I was in I think 4th grade. I remember the teacher, I remember the feel and look of the book. What I learned of it? I can’t remember. The second language I went for was Spanish. It went okay but the rote memorization of it was brutal. I was only 12, in 7th grade, and rote memorization of that language didn’t work. I tried French first at college but… nah, too flouncy for me. So back I went to German and to my surprise it was still there. What the heck? The professor said to me then, to learn a language well you must “think” in the language your learning, not the language you know. Haven’t taken German in more than 20 years but it still sticks with me enough to converse with some German speaking people .
That was one of the best lessons I ever learned in life. And I apply it in many area’s of my life including spirituality. Learning it, is in effect, being the change you want to see in your world. When we are very young we learn for the first time, everything else is relearning.
So why are they different? When we are first learning and living we are learning in the living of it. What will always stick with us best is the first learnings this is why the German stuck with me. This is also why it is so hard to shake the learned chronic negative thinking patterns carried on by dysfunctions learned in our youth. This is why raising children with faith and spirituality is so important.
My first question to the professor when he said we should think in the language we want to learn was, “How do you think in a language you do not know?” And he said you use only that language. You learn the most important questions or statements by rote so they are in your head and heart so firmly that it’s there for you at all times. In the case of language those key things would be, I don’t understand, please slow down and How do you say “this” in German? You can’t learn German in English, you must learn German in German. Here in Ontario, we would call that Language Immersion.
Baptism is a symbolic Spiritual Immersion. Whether it is carried forward is the responsibility of those of us witnessing a baptism. We are not to become baptized and then think the work is done. When we surround ourselves or our children with the principals of living a good life spiritually eg. kindness, compassion, responsibility, respect, faith etc. we are immersing them and ourselves. We are baptizing ourselves in the life of spirituality and that path.
Spirituality isn’t a part of my day, it is in all of my day. I live my life from that spot. I surround myself with friends, family, reading, art and music that accentuates it. I think from the spirituality inside of me . All else comes from within that to the outside. It doesn’t mean speaking spirituality all the time, though sometimes it does happen that way as like attracts like, it means utilizing the principals until the meaning of one day at a time is the same as now, every moment.
Part of what makes living spirituality so important is in doing it everyday and it’s being an integral part of your life, not something on the outside or extra curricular. Not a set aside outside hour of ones day. Once it takes hold, like a language, you can go at it from the outside in and inside out. One just needs to be really sure that nothing is lost in translation. And sometimes as with most of us, the translation to others does get lost, but that is only because we step outside of ourselves.
In education and learning it is common to hear use it or lose it. I choose to use it. To live it and to become and be a spiritual being. I would much rather use it than lose it!
©Adrienne McLeod 2011
Spirituality is the job part of being religious, or spiritual. It is an action. It is the visible evidence of our beliefs. Spiritual growth is something that we can all work on together. Each of us in our own ways utilize so many of the same techniques only they have different names. I have my beliefs, the belief that I know, for me, is true. It may or may not be the same for you. Even within families spirituality the act of living out our beliefs day to day is different. Spirituality is not a secular definition. It does not belong to any one group. It belongs to all of us.
It is the universalism of Spirituality that I embrace, the universalism I learn from, love and try to practice in every aspect of my life so that it represents my beliefs and faith. Your Faith may be different than mine but the one thing we all have in common is that we all have it.
I know many people to whom I owe so much to in my discoveries of my faith and spirituality. My hope is that they too will share in the discussions on this site.
For Christians, remember that Jesus did not cut himself off from the rest of the world he embraced it and loved it so much that he made his life about saving it. He sent Paul to do the same. This page is not about differences. It is about searching for what we have in common. If you are Native and you pray to the Creator or Tunkashila it is about how you commune and live out that path. Not the religion itself. For Bhudists I would ask you to share the same. HH the Dalai Lama, thank you, I have learned so much from you. This isn’t about Religions it is about living a spiritual life.
For all, please remember that this is a place to celebrate being a spiritual being, being a person who lives that out day to day and not just on a day they go to worship. It is not a place to debate what is right or wrong. It is a place to learn from one another. Please show respect for all.