I said in the introduction to this website that this website is about having fun. And it is. But, I also enjoy talking and writing about serious topics. So, I have written and expect to continue to write about things other than podcasts, books, TV shows, and whatever else most people consider to be fun. In this particular article, I intend to write about spiritual growth, because this is one of the topics that interest me--one of the topics that are "fun" for me. I'm not raising this topic, because I expect to change anyone's mind about religion or spirituality. I've come to realize that whether a person believes the "truth", whatever that may be, has much more to do with who that person is, than it does with what the truth is. For this reason, I don't try to convert anyone to anything. That would be a waste of my time, and I hate wasting my time. Wasting my time is not fun for me.
As I've said before on this website, I'm not the typical Mormon. Probably because I'm an INTJ personality type, I've spent decades trying to understand religion and spirituality. Over the last two decades, I've come to find some truth in the points that James W. Fowler makes in his book Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning. Many disagree with Fowler's statements, but I've found them to hold fairly well in my life. Lately, more and more people are picking them up and writing books centered around them--people like Margaret Placentra Johnston, Richard Rohr, and Ken Wilber.
I think there are many nonreligious people laboring under the false impression that spiritual growth has nothing to do with them. I have to assume this is because they have never been introduced to a spirituality that is on their level. As Fowler points out, most religious people are involved with religions that are founded on low-to-medium-level spiritual principles. They don't plainly teach higher spiritual principles, first because their congregations aren't capable of understanding and making use of those higher principles in their lives, and second because many, if not most, of their congregations believe that some of these principles are evil. Most people simply do not have the spiritual tools to tell good from evil very well. They let their spiritually non-advanced leaders do that for them. Or, they believe that anything that makes them temporarily happy is good, and anything that makes them temporarily unhappy is bad. I've struggled for decades to separate "good" from "evil", so I know how difficult it can be. I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is to take a morally neutral principle and assign a morality to it. In their minds, it becomes good or evil, based on how they feel about it. Johnathon Haidt, a psychologist and professor of ethical leadership at New York University, says essentially that in his books.
One reason I think many, if not most, nonreligious people are uninterested in spirituality is that no one has ever pointed out to them that spirituality is important to everyone, whether or not each persons realizes it. Spirituality is not just about religion. It's also about ethics and world views. It's the basis for valuing and interacting with every person around us, the basis for how we react to every significant event in our lives. Our spirituality determines our individual motivations. As a result, whether we realize it or not, our spirituality is the basis of everything we do in our lives. For example, our spirituality determines what we study in school, what jobs we take, how we perform those jobs, what we think about those jobs, who we marry, and whether we have children. If you are a nonreligious person who does not understand what I am talking about, I'm sorry that I can't give you a better explanation other than to say that our spirituality determines the meanings that we assign to everything and everyone in our lives.
Contrary to the usual definitions, spiritual growth is a learning process that teaches us to look at our lives in ways that are more consistent with reality. My personal opinion is that the more correct our view of reality, the happier we will be. I could be wrong about that, but I know that a correct view of reality helps a person to be productive. If we aren't wasting our time doing things that will never produce the results we want, we will be less frustrated, and we should be heading in directions that are more likely to get us more of what we want. A more correct view of reality will mean that the things we want will be things that will make us happy, not things that we only think will make us happy, until we get them and recognize that we were wrong. A huge part of spirituality to me is figuring out what things will make me happy. When I say "things", I don't necessarily mean material objects. In my view, spiritual growth is no more than coming to know ourselves and others well enough to see more clearly what will make us and them happy.
It has been my experience that no matter how knowledgeable I am in a certain area, be it engineering or anything else, I am constantly bumping into clueless people who want to argue with me and tell me I'm wrong. These people almost never listen to my responses to any of their arguments, so I have no desire to argue with them any more. In the area of spirituality, you can listen to what I've said, or you can ignore it. It's totally up to you. Whether you believe me or not will probably have little real effect on your life, because everyone is already looking for what makes them happy anyway. If you live long enough, trial and error should eventually get you to the point where you understand the things I have said here about spirituality. The only question is how long it will take.
I will at least occasionally talk more about spirituality and spiritual growth, but I think that's enough for now.
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