Be All You Are

It is easy to be distracted by life, especially when we’re young and there is so much going on. As young adults, we think about our education, careers, sexual partners, and social life, all of which are valid concerns. By the time we reach our thirties, many of us have settled down into marriages, children, and established careers. Our lives are hectic, consumed with a passion to be successful at whatever we do, whether in our relationships or our occupations.

And then come the late forties when many of us, for the first time, begin to realize that we haven’t been able to live up to the unrealistic goals of an overly materialistic and self-seeking society. More so, we begin to grasp the reality of our own mortality. With a little apprehension, we realize that life is engaging but short, and that we are all going to die someday.

This is a critical point in life; a time when we start to question our motivations, lifestyles, and goals; and a time when we feel a strong, inner drive to search for greater spiritual and universe meaning. It’s a time to contemplate an alternate universe reality.

Coming to grips with our own mortality is not necessarily a grim endeavor, especially if we are convinced about life after death and that we will continue to advance spiritually on the worlds to come. Death is a natural and inevitable part of life, and openly acknowledging our mortality as well as our spiritual destiny can be a wonderful motivator in our search for spiritual truth.

The pursuit of the ideal—the striving to be Godlike—is a continuous effort before death and after. 103.5.7

– The Urantia Book

Having said that, there is no need to wait for middle age to embark on a spiritual adventure. Just as young minds can easily soak up the facts of science and the logic of philosophy, they can also be extremely receptive to the spiritual forces working within them and around them. For many young people, the true motivator in this adventure is simply a desire to know more about the truth, not just about themselves but about God and a seemingly infinite universe.

A spirit quest begins whenever we desire to improve ourselves, to reach for deeper meanings, to appreciate worthwhile values in life. At first, we may feel guilty or regretful, but this initial sense of unworthiness will pass and, from the positive desire to better ourselves, we gain the impetus for real change.

To change anything requires the desire to do so. Desires drive us forward, they motivate us, but they are not necessarily evil or misguided. Even in the Buddhist tradition, there is a distinction made between tanhā, which refers more to desires of the flesh, and chanda, which is a positive desire to act, such as a desire for enlightenment. It is impossible to achieve much in our personal lives unless we desire it to be so, no matter what the endeavor.

Deep in our hearts, we desire to know more about the truth, which leads us to search for greater meaning in our lives. We begin to rise above a shallow existence dominated by base cravings, vanity, and selfishness. But at the same time, we begin to glimpse the infinite goodness and enduring reality of a meaningful spiritual life.

We should never be discouraged by any perceived lack of spirituality on our part. The very fact that we feel poor in spirit is what brings about our desire for self-improvement—a desire to change for the better. It is, indeed, a divine blessing, one that opens the door to a truly spiritual life.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

– Jesus of Nazareth

The same could be said of our perceived failures in life. Dwelling on all that went wrong in our lives will only impede our progress. Learning to deal with failure is a part of growing up, and learning to admit our failures promptly is more beneficial than trying to mask them over with false optimism. We do not need to dwell on regrets, only to recognize our desire to improve and then to contemplate how we can accomplish the necessary changes.

Making a mistake is falling down; failure is not getting up again.

– Helen Keller

Embarking on a spiritual journey is a personal choice. It is your supreme decision and yours alone. But on this road, you are not alone—it is a road traveled by many who came before you, and it will be traveled by many who come after you. It is not a path for the egotistical or the selfish. There is no preferential seating and no first-class fare—there is only one price to pay—and that is to devote yourself wholeheartedly to the supernal enterprise of finding God, the Source of all things.

There is no need to isolate yourself in a secluded forest or to hide away in a gloomy cave in order to find God or enlightenment. You can live spiritually no matter what your occupation in life, whether it’s closing a sales contract, building a house, or washing the dishes. A spiritual life is not just an inward journey of the soul, it’s an outward path of daily living; of performing moral and spiritual duties to family and friends, as well as anyone you meet along the way.

No two journeys are alike. What works for you may not work for others and vice versa. There is no need for all of us to follow the same path because all paths lead to the same end—spiritual enhancement, cosmic consciousness, and a spiritual life in harmony with the way of God.

Your great challenge in life is to make real contact with the Divine Presence within you. Nothing else compares to the thrill of this adventure—no distant travel, skydiving, bungee jumping, or rock climbing is equal to the challenge or exhilaration of coming into actual conscious contact with the Source of Life. It is an undertaking that requires courage, persistence, unwavering trust, and an honest effort to follow the lead of your priceless Spirit Guide, who works day and night to help you along the road to real freedom.

It’s Never Too Late

It is never too late to begin your spiritual transformation. At first, you recognize your own need for spiritual outreach. Second, you begin to feel a true inner desire to become more spiritual in your day-to-day living. And third, you realize you need to do something about it. The fact that you begin to feel this way is a sure sign the Spirit within you is making contact.

Your inner experience becomes a very real part of you once you begin to live it, to express it, to manifest it in the outside world. And this quest is not simply an intellectual pursuit—it’s a genuine spiritual experience. It will give your life meaning, it will teach you spiritual values, you will enjoy peace of mind, you will learn to love others, and you will learn to be loved.

Each person’s task in life is to become an increasingly better person.

– Leo Tolstoy

A spiritual transition requires a freewill surrender to spirit, but it is not a slavish surrender, nor does it imply giving up your personal identity or self-control. Instead, think of it as a positive and active willingness to follow the lead of the Divine Presence within you, having faith that it will always guide you along a virtuous and honorable path. Think of it as being motivated in the moment by your heartfelt desire to dedicate your life to love, truth, and goodness.

Only you can begin your own journey. But once you decide on this path, the spirits within you and all around you will happily provide the essential assistance required for your success. Indeed, you cannot do it on your own. Just as everyone in this world relies on other people for their material survival or success, your spiritual transition relies on the indispensable help of your Spirit Guide.

Your spiritual experiences are individual and unique. It’s a journey no one else can make for you—it cannot be lived vicariously, although you can always benefit from the wise advice and good examples of others. Your journey is your own personal accomplishment; it is something you gain honestly through your own efforts.

The God experience is open to everyone. It has nothing to do with whether you are rich or poor, educated or ignorant, privileged or persecuted. Neither will your cultural background, social standing, or criminal record affect your ability to contact the Divine Spirit within you. It requires only honest motivation, pure intent, and the faith that you can do it.

And it doesn’t matter what troubles you may have encountered, what miseries you have endured, or what misfortune and injustice you have suffered—none of this can affect your ability to contact your inner Spirit—the divine spark within you. There is absolutely nothing, no one, and no power in the entire universe that can stop you if you have a true and heartfelt desire to know the truth about God.

I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else shall be able to separate us from the love of God.

– Paul of Tarsus

Your Power to Choose

In the many trials of life, it is often tempting to find fellowship in misery or to wallow in self-pity, but these sentiments are ultimately self-destructive—nothing can be gained by allowing ourselves to indulge in despondency.

It is also tempting to blame others for our misfortunes, or to find fault in social, economic, or political organizations. But none of this fault finding will help us in our quest for spiritual success. And if we roll over and give up because we think life has given us a raw deal, no one will be able to help.

Instead of focusing your mind on insurmountable difficulties, be encouraged by the truth that your very ability to be pessimistic means you have spiritual potential. It means you have a mind that is conscious of values as well as facts. And any conscious ability to assign value to anything is an indicator of potential morality—a God-given ability that becomes the foundation for spiritual choice.

Your transformation begins with your power to choose. So rather than choosing to dig deep, dark pits of despair, you can choose to allow the Spirit to lift you up to the spiritual light of living truth, enduring beauty, and eternal goodness. The Spirit will not act without your free consent. Only with your permission can it begin to lend a helping hand.

The forces of the spiritual world will not coerce man; they allow him to go the way of his own choosing. 163:2.8

– The Urantia Book

Many first-year psychology classes teach us to avoid giving advice unless it is asked for. Not only is this wise counsel, it’s also a principle of the spiritual universe. Unsolicited advice is rarely effective because most people don’t want it. Therefore, it’s unlikely you will receive any spiritual advice or guidance unless you ask for it.

Rest assured that all spiritual agencies genuinely want you to succeed. They want you to become the best you can be, not just spiritually but also with your family and career. They want you to achieve grand things that, as of this present moment, may be totally beyond your imagination. But the Spirit, as great and as powerful as it is, will never interfere with your free choice.

Be Something More

To experience increasing spiritual awareness, it is not enough to simply know or believe something, or even to do something—we must be something. It’s important to do good for others, but we must truly be good. It’s important to promote the truth, but we must also be truthful. A rich, spiritual life is fully realized not just by living out our spiritual ideals, but by becoming those ideals.

However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on them?

– Buddha

Spiritual living is a happy and rewarding experience, but it’s not a selfish and carefree trip of the light fantastic. It’s a stimulating journey that requires effort, determination, learning, and understanding as you persistently strive for spiritual maturity.

No matter what you do in life, whether it’s learning to play music, being the best in sports, or becoming an expert in any profession, it requires a concerted effort, a broad education, and a lot of practice. Spiritual achievement is no exception in this regard.

But as you strive for perfection, you should have reasonable expectations. If you entertain unrealistic notions, you will soon become disappointed and frustrated. Living in the spirit is a lifetime occupation, not something you gain by meditating for a week.

Don’t be disappointed when you discover your limitations; you are merely human just like everyone else. All spiritual improvements entail some struggle to overcome animal instincts and predispositions. And most of us entertain a few biases, prejudices, or personal problems that we need to work through and eliminate. Wealth and social status, or the lack of them, will not exempt you from any of the common problems associated with real spiritual improvement.

A beneficial way of overcoming some of these problems is to develop good spiritual habits. We are often oblivious to our habitual behaviors and the many ways we have trained ourselves to react to different life situations. By creating positive habitual responses, we are more likely to make the right decisions when under stress. This topic is explored further in Spiritual Habits for the Soul.

Fostering good habits begins by abandoning our selfish and stubborn inclinations. Self-centered traits have no place in a cosmic approach to spiritual progress. We cannot claim the spirit for ourselves, nor can we dictate how others should live. Instead, our spiritual success relies on our willingness and ability to share our spiritual selves with others through acts of love, compassion, and understanding.

Spiritual love is given freely to us, not so we can hoard it all to ourselves, but so we can give it freely to others. And just how much we are willing to pass on this love with compassion, kindness, and respect, is the true measure of our spiritual progress.

You are destined to live a narrow and mean life if you learn to love only those who love you. 156:5.11

– The Urantia Book

To help others, it is not necessary to work in the slums of New York, Mumbai, or Mexico City, although these are admirable avenues of service. All you need to do is pay attention to what is happening around you every day. Look around to see what you can do for others as you go about your daily routine. Every day is a new day to express the unconditional, divine love so freely given to you.

The Courageous Power of Love

While it is true that becoming spiritual will make you more loving and compassionate, never for a moment think it will make you weak and powerless. Quite the contrary, your experiences will fill you with convictions of confidence, strength, and courage unlike any you have ever known.

This God within is my all-sufficient strength and ever-present help in time of trouble.

– W. W. Atkinson

When you begin your spiritual quest, there is no need to defend yourself or your actions. You will soon discover that those who criticize your motives and insist on arguing every point often have few positive insights to offer in return. They may claim to be more reasonable and logical but, on close examination, their reasoning is often hollow, their intentions misguided, and their goals unavailing.

Do not be led astray by those who would accuse you of being whimsical or an intellectual featherweight. Indeed, to progress in the spirit requires solid determination, moral courage, sincerity, and a considerable amount of reflective thought.

Never doubt the courageous power of love and kindness, or the ability to turn away anger with a soft voice and a smile. When we learn to love and understand our neighbors, all hostilities dissolve like sugar in water.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

– Jesus of Nazareth

When we gain the courage to admit that we do not always need to be right, that we do not have to have things our way, that there is no gain in revenge, that there is no benefit in petty resentments, or that our selfish opinions mean little in the great scheme of things, then we have reached true peace of mind, achieving the spiritual freedom and personal power that comes with it.

Stuck Between Two Worlds

Before we reach a level at which we live comfortably in the presence of God, we will always experience some uncertainty. The mind naturally rebels whenever we attempt to draw it away from its familiar and comfortable milieu of material reality. But we can begin to tame our turbulent minds by changing the way we view and interpret the world.

Making the necessary changes requires some effort because it’s difficult, if not impossible, to be successful if we are indolent or indifferent. But with some irony, those who live completely in a materialistic and secular world, who are content with who they are, and who are perfectly ignorant of spiritual possibilities, can actually enjoy relative peace of mind.

And on the other side of reality, are those who have come to know and experience the presence of God in their lives, who exhibit the fruits of the spirit, and who realize that life on this world is just the beginning of an astonishing and eternal adventure. They too, have achieved peace of mind—a sublime and powerful faith in divine destiny and the goodness of God.

But for the poor folks in between, life is not so easy. They attempt to live happily with a foot in both worlds, but with little satisfaction. They have left their familiar and comfortable homes to travel an unknown road with many twists and turns, but they are not sure which way they want to go. How will they even recognize the place when they arrive? At hesitant stops along the way, they become filled with doubt and yearn for the simplicity of their old lives.

But despite these nagging doubts, they have tasted the truth of spiritual realities and know in their hearts they cannot go back to their old ways. They soon muster their courage, dispel all mental conflict, and commit themselves wholeheartedly to the spirit way. And then, with the precious gift of spiritual insight, they begin a genuine spiritual experience—a happy and fulfilling pursuit dominated by the invincible power of God’s love.

Spiritual Desires

For some of us, the spiritual adventure begins early. For others, it begins only after enduring much disappointment, sorrow, and tribulation in life. And for the rest, it may never begin at all.

But for those who decide to begin this thrilling enterprise, it starts with a sincere recognition that some things need to change in their lives. They begin to see how the rush of life has distracted them from the realization of greater values and more honorable pursuits.

Indeed, there are many meaningless distractions in life. Modern-day marketing has become so sophisticated and so insidious that many of us are completely duped into thinking life would be so much better and more fun if we could only have more things, more money, bigger houses, new cars, the latest gadgets, and so forth ad infinitum.

Of course, we all need a reasonable degree of shelter and material comfort. But idolizing wealth, glorifying social status, and exalting material things does absolutely nothing for our spiritual progress. Free yourself from the shackles of petty materialism by realizing that genuine happiness comes from an enthusiastic, spiritual life.

The highest happiness is indissolubly linked with spiritual progress. 100.4.3

– The Urantia Book

Spiritual enlightenment begins with an awareness of our shortcomings, an experience followed by a strong, inner desire for self-improvement and spiritual contact. We work out at the gym, we do yoga or sports, we watch our diets, we try to earn a good wage, we travel, and we attempt to broaden our knowledge through reading, study, and exploration.

All this effort is commendable and serves as a positive indicator of progressive change but, in and of itself, it may not be entirely satisfying. We may feel there is something missing—deep in our hearts is a growing urge for spiritual values, for something more profound and meaningful.

We live on a very confused and troubled world. From birth, we are taught trite cliches such as: Look out for number one; it’s a dog-eat-dog world; every man for himself; it’s all about the money; you gotta be tough to survive, and countless other self-centered tropes of utter nonsense.

We know it’s not all about the money. Even wealthy, organized crime networks put emphasis on the value of family. We know how good it feels to be loved, to be hugged, to have someone who cares for us. And we know how satisfying it feels to reach out to help a neighbor or someone less fortunate. Likewise, loving parents feel immense joy when their children do well in life. And world citizens are pleased to see the progress of civilization and science. But none of this is about the love of money.

In a purely selfish, animalistic, materialistic, and logical world, motivations of progress, love, and altruism are not necessary for basic survival. And yet, without such desires, feelings, and values, life is empty and pointless.

How do we explain this human desire, this inner drive to do better, to love others, to enjoy life? On a material level, we are motivated to increase our wealth and assets, and on an emotional level, we wish to live happy, rewarding lives. But what is the source of this desire that impels us to do good, to improve, to search for truth, to appreciate beauty? Can any material thing, force, or energy explain our love for one another, our desire to help others, our feelings of compassion?

Psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists try to explain why we have these kinds of motivations and desires. In the past, they invariably looked for Darwinian explanations of survival and evolution, usually expressed in terms of beneficial social or biological functions, as if all behavior and social phenomena could be reduced to material needs or functions.

But academic explanations will always fall short as long as scholars refuse to admit, or at least account for, one very real truth—that the diverse scope of human experience far exceeds the material level of existence—that it actually touches on a very real superconscious and spiritual dimension. And, indeed, this notion is gaining wider recognition among researchers.

Apart from our innate ability to reason, any desire for spiritual truth and self-betterment is not something naturally inherent in the biology of the human psyche. It is a spiritual drive, and the very source of that drive is the Divine Spirit living within the mind of every one of us who retain the capacity for moral choice. If we allow it or desire it, this Spirit imparts to us the insight and wisdom needed to distinguish right from wrong, good from bad, and spiritual from material.

Benefits of a Spiritual Life

Starting your spiritual quest at any time of life is extremely rewarding. A spiritual drive makes you progressively more understanding, more compassionate, more loving, more real. You also become more aware of your place and purpose in the great cosmos. Your growing awareness of cosmic identity gives rise to a sublime inner peace, a peace of mind unrivaled by the satisfactions of wealth and fame.

A spiritual life is energizing and invigorating. By improving contact with your inner Spirit, you enable this divine entity to release spiritual energies into your body, mind, and soul. It is a way of recharging your spiritual batteries to vitalize all that you think and do. And in the process, it contributes to the fortitude and direction you need to overcome life’s difficulties.

Spiritual energies raise your thoughts to transcendent levels, which means you see yourself above and beyond your present state. You become conscious of the spiritual unity of the cosmos and realize you are a cosmic citizen who truly belongs in a universe more glorious and majestic than you could possibly imagine at this time. 

Progressive spirituality brings deeper wisdom and a better understanding of the nature of God, the world, and yourself. Whenever you acknowledge and accept your spirit potential, you become motivated by the desire to improve yourself, to cooperate, to help others, to make the world a better place.

Social science researchers are coming to similar conclusions. Increasingly, psychologists and sociologists recognize the importance of spirituality and religion for maintaining mental health, improving relationships, and increasing happiness.

 Increasing happiness is always the experience of all who are certain about God. 159:3.10

– The Urantia Book

Justin Barrett of Oxford University investigated the theory that people are predisposed to religious beliefs and found that children as young as three naturally attribute supernatural abilities and immortality to God, even if they have never been taught about God.

Harold Koenig and associates researched the theory that religious beliefs affect mental health and found that people with spiritual beliefs have a longer, healthier life and are less prone to depression.

The Journal of Family Psychology (2014) included nine studies that found that positive spiritual beliefs and behaviors strengthen and transform marriages, help people cope with adversity, bond family members, and improve children’s development. This relatively new subfield is sometimes referred to as relational spirituality.

A study appearing in the journal Spirituality in Clinical Practice (2015), found that recognizing and giving thanks for the positive aspects of life resulted in improved mental and physical health in patients with asymptomatic heart failure. More gratitude was associated with better mood, better sleep, less fatigue, and lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers.

Another important finding is that our happiness is, to a great extent, determined by how much we help others.  While this notion is nothing new in religious and philosophical circles, it is good to see it getting scientific recognition.

What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.

– Aristotle

These continuing studies are just a few examples of the indirect ways you can gauge the workings of spiritual forces. Spirit life is like a summer breeze, you feel it brush your cheeks as you stroll through the wildwoods of life, you see the branches sway, you hear the rustle of the leaves. You know it exists by its effects, although you cannot see it with material eyes. And so it is with all spiritual experience. You perceive the workings of spirit by its noticeable effects in body, mind, and soul. And you can actually feel the divine presence of God.

Your Road to Destiny

It is impetuous to embark on a journey if you have no idea where you are going. And it is difficult to imagine a spiritual destiny if you are unaware of the nature of your destination. You need some idea about your goals and objectives, and you need some expectation about what you will encounter when you arrive.

Few of us plan a fun holiday in a war-torn region or a place with rampant crime. We like to have some assurance that our destination is a safe place, a place that allows us to achieve and experience fresh insights. But if we have no conception about what to expect from a spiritual journey other than some pie-in-the-sky notion about a spiritual high of some sort, we are unlikely to make much headway.

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

– George Harrison

If you are traveling to either New Zealand or Greece for the first time, you may expect these destinations to be pleasant places to visit, especially if they are highly recommended by others. From your brochures, you have selected many wonderful sights to see and places to stay. But despite all the information and photos, you will never really know what the place is like until you actually get there.

The fact is, you travel to these places with the expectation and with the faith they will be exactly as described by those who went before you. And you embark on a spiritual journey with the same kind of expectation and faith.

Once you decide on a destination, it makes sense to start looking at a road map—a planned and willful approach to your destination. But the map is not always clear and often places are unmarked—or perhaps you encounter a thick fog of confusion.

When adverse conditions occur, you rely on a guide, just as the captain of a ship relies on a harbor pilot to steer him through unknown waters. In your case, you look to your spiritual guide, your Spirit Teacher who faithfully points the way. And if you choose to follow the direction of this loving and wise pilot, your path becomes clear and the doors of opportunity open wide.

It is much easier to accept the reality of God as a spiritual destination when your mind is clear about what this Eternal Source is like. You can either conjure up your own ideas about this or you can ponder the words, proclamations, revelations, and spiritual experiences of many others who have already traveled this path, from Buddha to Jesus and fast-forward to Mother Teresa.

Throughout history, there have been hundreds of spiritual teachers from all nations of the world, some better than others, and much has been written about their spiritual messages. If we are to sum up these revelations about our spiritual destiny, one thing is clear—almost all teachers of truth suggest that, to reach our destination, we should attempt to be perfect, to be spirit-like, to be Godlike.

And this is an important point because an even greater destiny awaits us—eternal life in an amazing and magnificent universe. If we wish to take part in this fantastic enterprise, if we wish to join this majestic celestial circle, this great company of spirit beings, then we need to become like them by following the spirit path.

Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

– Jesus of Nazareth

Our initial reaction to achieving Godlike perfection may be one of great skepticism, and rightly so. But in terms of living a life on this planet, limited as it is by our mortal and finite existence, there is a relative level of perfection that is attainable.