Spiritual awareness is not an escape from the world, a burying of one’s head in the sand. It’s about engagement in the world from a different perspective, making life more satisfying and productive.
Firstly, we go about our activities with mindfulness and a positive attitude. Secondly, we become proactive. We don’t sit around waiting for something to happen – we lay down the causes that make good things happen. When we do the right things with the right consciousness, all the power of the universe comes to our aid.
We simply can’t fulfil ourselves without being of service to others. ‘One thing I know is that those who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve,’ wrote Dr Albert Schweitzer, the great humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize winner. We’re here to give, and life presents us with continuous opportunities to make the world a better place for everyone you meet – and others outside your immediate circle.
One way to serve is to feed people (animals, fish and birds too). Feeding others is not just about easing hunger: it is an expression of caring and acceptance. Sharing food symbolises prosperity and encourages social bonding. There are other forms of nourishment too, such as appreciation, encouragement, attention and affection. As Mother Teresa said, ‘The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.’
A famous Buddhist painting shows two scenes depicting heaven and hell. One shows people seated at a magnificent banquet holding spoons with handles so long they cannot reach their mouths. This is hell. The other scene shows people sitting at the same banquet using the same long-handled spoons, but they are feeding each other. This is heaven.
Spontaneous acts of kindness
I recently witnessed a kind act in my local supermarket. An elderly lady didn’t have enough money to pay for her groceries. She was trying to decide which goods to leave behind when a man in the queue behind pulled out his wallet and paid the difference. No doubt it was only a small amount to him, but it mattered a great deal to her.
You can perform a random act of kindness for anyone, anytime, anywhere. Pay for someone else’s meal, carry their bag, let them go before you in a queue. A single thoughtful act can change lives.
There’s plenty of opportunity. ‘You can’t go a hundred yards in this world without seeing someone whose conditions you can make better,’ wrote singer David Crosby insightfully. That’s spirituality in action.
©David Lawrence Preston, 26.12 2016