Besides our personal and social life, there are other areas or aspects in our life to which spiritual development has relevance. Other main areas or aspects are our religious life, our economic life, and our political life.
The relevance of spiritual development to our religious life is that spiritual development gives substance or meaning to our religious life. It is also the bond which unites all the groups of different religions in the world. Unless our religious life is accompanied by spiritual development it is merely following a set of doctrines and practices. It will have no lasting, beneficial effect on our way of life. Unless we develop our spiritual life the different groups of religion will always be fighting one another on grounds of teaching and practice.
We are all born into a society which has a definite set of religious beliefs and practices. As we grow we imbibe these beliefs and practices and become more and more like the people to whom we belong. As we grow our beliefs and practices grow accordingly until we ultimately join with the whole community of faith in the same system of beliefs and practices to which we belong.
However there is another aspect to our religious life, and that is the religious life of the different branches of religion. Each religion has its own set of beliefs and practices which define its area of application.
Therefore we can say that there are three aspects of our religious life, namely:
1. Transcendence – the religion of birth, the religion of the spirit, and the religion of truth
2. Authenticity – needing to follow the guidelines set forth by the particular religion, in order to be adored and loved
3. Ceremonies – the routine of church or other organized body, like the washing of the feet, the dedicated attendance of the meetings, etc.
These three aspects define what is the main aspect of our religious life, the aspect of our religious life which gives substance or meaning to our religious life. These three aspects are as follows:
1. Transcendence – To Love Our Enemy With Unity of Faith
This aspect of our religious life means that we view all of the teachings and doctrines of the various religious books which we have been reading and studying which differentiates from our own belief sets, as being truths which we have found by our own individual development. Therefore we do not deviate from this aspect of our religious life, and feel happy and rejoice in it for we have understood and learned to live by faith.
2. Authenticity – Even though we are committed to following the guidelines as laid forth by the religion we feel it is not a part of our true nature to deviate from these guidelines and beliefs unless there is a necessity which sailors must follow to survive in theapprapresent circumstances. For we know that to follow the guidelines in this book is not in our best interest–for what other books say to do and what other books instruct to do we cannot do and do not do.
So we feel very sincere when we participate in the religious activities of our religion, but know that within ourselves we are always searching for that which is our own special place in this whole existence.
3. Ceremonies – The many elaborate religious customs, rituals, sacred doctrines, prayers, chants and many teachings, each teach a part of the whole. But to us they all seem contrived and mere intellectual participates in our being, without ever being able to quite grasp the higher dimension which is our deepest yearning. Therefore ecstasy is never a byproduct of our participation and quite a significant factor in the overall effect of our religious participation.
4. Knowledge – the various books,ishits and doctrines, which are the products of intellectual reasoning, study, and intellectual reflection; the intellect and its apparatus.
5. Service – Highest or most skilful form of service, such as sacrifice or the bearing of heavy loads; arduous or tough work.
6. Joy – free flow of ecstatic love, feelings of joy for our fellow men; the highest expression of the love, joy, and devotion to God.
The essence of our religious activities is our conscious aspiration to seek a love and a life in God and in His Creation which enables us to be most effective, joyful, content, enlightened, peaceful, creative, patient, and hopeful. The religious life is the form our soul takes to reach our Father. It is an inner journey which makes our soul more receptive in the higher dimensions of our being. It involves development of certain aspects of the psyche and the growth of others. As our soul grows in love for God and for people, in attitude as well as in material conditions, she infuses more and more of the essence of God into her microcosm, and thus her psychosomatic system more and more reflects the divine.