You’ve probably noticed that aggressive, angry, critical, controlling, and judgmental people rarely have many friends.
It’s common to believe that peace and compassion comes primarily from religion, religious beliefs, and religious piety.
Unfortunately this is seldom true.
In fact, strong beliefs, religious or otherwise, too often lead to judgmentalism, conflict, and emotional violence with those who do not happen to agree with our beliefs.
No belief, no opinion, no certainty regardless of how strongly held, has an exclusive claim on truth.
Stated simply, authentic spiritual growth and increasing our ability to be compassionate are rarely associated with religion or religious beliefs.
In fact, all of history’s great spiritual teachers tell us that compassion and loving kindness are sustainable behaviors that can only be found when we have learned to embrace a true middlepath spirituality….when black-and-white primitive ego beliefs and certainties have evolved into the gray of diversity and inclusiveness, and truth is found on both sides of the various paths we have chosen for our life journey.
Twenty five years as a mental health counselor taught me that compassion and authentic spiritual growth has everything to do with becoming more intentionally self-aware of the judgmentalism that emerges from our strongly held beliefs and our primitive ego’s need to be “right”.
These two traits were the source of most of my client’s pain and suffering.
Over time I came to realize that growth in self-awareness and authentic spiritual growth were one in the same subject.
We simply can’t have one without the other because spiritual growth is not possible without a corresponding increase in personal self- awareness.
And vice versa.
In other words, growth in self awareness is authentic spiritual growth…..and only authentic spiritual growth can create a sustainable compassion.
We are all free to choose the various beliefs, including religious beliefs, that allow us a worldview that makes sense out of the world around us.
However, compassion and happiness can enter our lives only when we have learned to let go of the false notion that our beliefs, no matter how strong they might be, have the ability to represent absolute truth or define absolute reality.
Only when we learn to embrace this reality can our lives be filled with kindness, compassion, and happiness.
© Dick Rauscher 2010