The life tasks of the spiritual life
Happy Third Sunday of Easter! May the joy of the Risen Lord, continue to abide with us and grant us the graces to excel on our journey of the spiritual life. Amen. Today, there are many discoveries about the challenges of the Christian in a secularised world that is driven by many and troubling ideologies, confusing worldviews and a high measure of uncertainties concerning our original tasks and final endings. The world has become very engaging, if not overly enticing, and so much so that sometimes we find it very difficult even to do our simple, frequent and regular spiritual exercises like praying, meditating, reading, and let alone doing charities or other good works. The challenge is that, many who live the spiritual life, seems not to be growing and developing towards the end that the spiritual life is destined for. The foregoing observation has informed the need for us to reawaken our awareness about the life tasks of the spiritual life. This piece is meant to refresh and help us to realign ourselves to what is necessary for us as we daily aspire to do the will of God.
Life tasks of the spiritual life are the enduring commitment that are driven by our harder labour and they are necessary to help us realise our dreams in life. They have two main fronts, such as psychological and spiritual maturity. It is pertinent to note that in the spiritual life, there are two special hungers to be satisfied; physical hunger and spiritual hunger. The satisfaction of these hungers meet up the satisfaction of our psychological maturity and spiritual maturity. Physical hunger calls for good nutrition, exercises and self-care and they ultimately end in the satisfaction of our spiritual needs of the soul because we pray for instance before eating, before exercising and fulfilling other bodily needs. While spiritual hunger is satisfied by three special needs such as truth, life and love/service. The three special needs that satisfy spiritual hunger and spiritual maturity correspond to the three special identities of Jesus Christ in John 14:6 “I am the way (love/service), the Truth (truth) and the Life (life). Please let us make conscious efforts to satisfy these hungers that would culminate into the satisfaction of our psychological maturity and spiritual maturity.
Self-awareness: Self-awareness is the foundation of the tasks of the spiritual life, yet it is the most neglected, trivialised and sometimes taken to be simplistic. Let’s face it! There is this perennial question we are usually asked; “Who are you?” or when we sometimes go critical by giving ourselves to self-evaluation and allowing life to lead in questioning us, the question becomes: “Who am I really?” These questions address self-awareness (Powell, 1995). Our answers are usually our names, gender, nationality, race, job, religion, height, weight and so forth. However, these are inconstant elements that cannot define an entity called the SELF & ITS AWARENESS (Munkiele, 2017). They are efforts made by the world to define us. Most times, mistakes are made by the application of such variables for the definition of the self and its awareness. Many distortions and confusions are created in us and we end up living a life that is defined and regulated for us. Resist such lies!
Self-awareness is a self-realisation that stems from our inward to outward discovery of our personal truth. It is only you who can fix it. It is only you after God who knows the “you in you” and the “me in me.” Until we strive to answer the question “Who am I” yourself, you may remain stagnant and the world may keep pushing you to an unknown destination. Self-awareness is so important that the ancient thinkers would say “Man know thyself.” This dictum in our modern era has metamorphosed into self-awareness. We need self-awareness to appreciate our humanity and its dignity, we need self-awareness in order to discover God. Hence Merton as cited by Benner would say “There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace, and my happiness depends: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find Him.” Finally, we need self-awareness in order to improve and sustain our psychological and spiritual maturity.
The first point to begin with self-awareness is to start with the Self. To this end, the Self has been defined severally and in conflicting ways by philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, and lay people alike. Nevertheless, Carl Jung speaks more clearly, especially from his wholistic and spiritual points of view. The Self he says is “The royal archetype of the whole person; the Self is the totality and purpose of the psyche; … a transpersonal power that transcends the ego … the Self is the imago Dei (image of God), ‘the God in us’” (Jung’s work as cited in Monbourquette, 2006; Chopra, 2014). In addition, the Self for Carl Jung is also the human soul in which the Divine resides. It is the discovery of the Self that leads to self-awareness. This being the case, we come to discover the Self not by direct knowledge only but “by hints that reveal its presence” (Monbourquette 2006, p. 107). These hints include symbols such as dreams, myths and legends. Thus, we can combine the aforementioned hints and unlock our self-awareness through a thorough discovery of our beliefs, values, potentials and gifts, others are our passion, strengths, talents and limitations.
How to execute the first tasks of our spiritual life
It begins with the principle of honesty and then opening up our personal truth. What is personal truth? It is what you really think and feel about yourself. This is a story that is known to you and God alone. Sometimes, we try to hide it but it exposes or embarrasses us. Let me give you some examples. You may have heard of an athlete who brags of his/her fame but he/she chokes with insecurity during competitions or negatively, a beauty queen who in truth is lonely, scared and ends up taking her life. So, on a positive note, our personal truths are our personal bests that have not been actualised or realised and vice versa. Until they are searched for and discovered, it may be difficult to grow in the spiritual life. We need to tell ourselves the truth! A good discovery of our personal truth would culminate in a self-concept. One that will enable us to progress in life and for those who have self-actualised, they may begin to approach the realms of the transcendence confidently. Finally, a firm knowledge of our personal truth will earn you and I the “DNA” of our personality. I must confess to you up front that this is not going to be easy but it must not be mystified. Therefore, we need to be determined to encounter our authentic self. Do not hesitate to leave your comments, contributions and questions as need arises. Good luck and God bless you!