It’s been a while since my last podcast and in this one called “For the Love of God…” I build upon the last one on Reverence. Because the topic is very important I took time to write it out before recording it and so I’d like to share the original transcript with you. When I recorded it there were a few moments where I changed the wording slightly, however what you find below is the actual script which was on my laptop in the video. Some people like to watch a video, others prefer a podcast and others like to read, which is why I present “For the Love of God” in as many ways as possible.
Hello, this is Mark from The Way Back group and if you’ve followed our podcasts or seen our videos then you know that the topics of spirituality and soul development are at the heart of what we do. You’ve also heard us talk about God, not in a religious context but in a truly spiritual way in which we focus on real experience of the divine rather than just belief and philosophy.
But if you are new to this then let me summarise. Spirituality can be thought of as a strong desire to be closer to God, that which is beyond limits, oneness, the source of love. Whereas “soul growth” is learning to be more like God, which means to be good or “Godly”.
The moment when a person truly starts to become more spiritual, is when they knowingly turn their attention towards God, even if they don’t fully understand it. That moment when you first truly acknowledge God in some way is a moment of higher awareness orchestrated by our spirit. Perhaps that moment has already happened for you? or has yet to come, but either way I have a question for you: How did you or would you treat this moment? Would you be “The Photographer” or “The Explorer”?
The photographer is a person who visits somewhere special and takes a photo to remember the moment. They tell themselves “Right, I’ve done that”. Think of the people who stand at the foot of a great mountain and are in awe, inspired, and they take a photo. They will go on to tell people of this moment, even share their awe, perhaps they will inspire others to go there too. But something is missing, they are still at the foot of the mountain, sure they know about the mountain.
But that’s not the point, you see when you are really spiritually awakening then you recognise something awe inspiring in that moment and unlike the photographer who captures the moment it causes movement in a desire to explore further, rather than remaining detached, you take the first step on a journey bringing you closer to God. Even if you don’t understand it, there’s a desire to explore it further and this desire is “Spirituality”. There is nothing greater than God and so a journey towards God should be the main focus of your life, however in the beginning that awareness might not yet have blossomed, however such a realisation usually evolves in time and the journey gains momentum.
A true story, I was mentoring a spiritual person and they were experiencing what could best be described as blocks which were starting to manifest as friction in life. They knew something was not right, but couldn’t figure out what it was. They were extremely humble and living by The Six Virtues and they had a great love and appreciation for Jesus. What came to light was that though they were extremely good and devoted, they were no longer giving their thoughts and heart to God. Instead Jesus had become their primary focus. They hadn’t done wrong but to help us understand how that created blocks let us consider the metaphor of a journey.
Knowing that there is nothing greater or higher than God then the metaphoric “Journey” is one that leads up, like a path up the highest mountain to the peak. Whether you can attain it or not, that peak is your destination, the ultimate goal of your journey. Each step takes you a tiny bit closer to God, higher, raising you up.
Spiritually, and we’re not talking about religion, then Jesus who is the highest of all humans, is the ultimate spiritual teacher and guides all good humans. He guides by his example, but greater still by his continued love. It is no wonder that a person might give their attention towards him, and in fairness it is only right that they do, because Jesus came to guide all humans, showing them the way back to God.
But, and this is where this person had become distracted, Jesus is the Guide, he is not the destination, and even two thousand years ago he made it clear that it is through him that someone finds God. Pointing the way past himself as if to say go further up the path, to God. If we seek to be truly spiritual, then we must never forget about the goal of spirituality, which is God.
So how do we make each step towards God? It is through the choices we make in every single moment. Each choice, no matter how small, either takes us closer to God or further away. Do you frown or smile? Do you indulge a bad mood or chose to raise yourself up? Do you respond to provocation or choose neutrality? Do you harbour resentment or demonstrate forgiveness.
But more than that, and this is important, do you consciously choose to make God the focus of your heart’s desire? Furthermore, having done so, how can you tell if you’re making steps in the right direction?
I was hosting an online meetup the other day and I posed the following question to people:
“What practical ways would you be demonstrating you are more spiritual?” and the discussion led to the appreciation that if you are more spiritual, then you are more closely demonstrating the qualities of God.
You may have already heard me say “All that is good comes from God” and so naturally this leads to the realisation that demonstrating goodness is akin to demonstrating you are more spiritual. But this “demonstration” must be genuine and sincere, coming from the heart, otherwise it’s just an act.
So when you are sincerely demonstrating goodness, then it is a sign you are moving in the right direction. Incidentally I asked those present for words that would describe these good qualities, which are a reflection of God’s goodness and what I’d like to do now is to read some of them out, so you can see how they resonate with you. Take a moment to relax a bit, be more neutral and just observe your reaction to each:
Which of these words spoke the most to you? Which do you think you would like to have more of within yourself?
But thinking about your soul development, when I put the idea of becoming more Godly, to a group of people, one of them said in all honesty, “Is it worth it? I mean it’s not possible to be as good as God so are we setting ourselves up to fail?”. I liked the way one of the others responded, and I’ll share it with you: “Even if I just improve a tiny bit, then I’ve got a bit closer to God and since Jesus is watching over and guiding us then he’d be pleased at any amount of progress. So I’m just glad that by trying to be a better person that would please Jesus, that’s enough for me”.
So here is the key thing to take home from this:
Understanding that we can become more good through intention and being present so that when the chance arises we make better choices, demonstrating and increasing in goodness.
Being and doing good is a demonstration of Godliness in action which means acting out your focus on God. But this goodness is directed outwards, towards Creation and a nice analogy is that God’s goodness flows through us and by learning to think and be good we act like a tap allowing goodness to flow into the world around us. The more good we are the more we are aligned with God and so the more open that tap becomes and more of God’s goodness metaphorically flows through us.
But, and this is important, it is possible that we could become very good but forget to turn our attention towards God. To continue to personally move closer to God and prevent ourselves from spiritually stagnating, no matter how good we are, we must keep God in the forefront of our thoughts and consciously in our hearts.
The previous podcast on the topic of Reverence really speaks to the importance of this because it explains how having deference and awe of God and Love towards God will lead to a sincere worship of God, which has nothing to do with religion or any belief system, but rather is an internal desire, like a fire within you. In that podcast I go on to explain that when you share that inner fire with others openly then you grow and help others grow spiritually.
When you find yourself worshipping God naturally then that is also a sign you are moving in the right direction. But rather than waiting for that fire to grow you can also proactively choose to worship God and fan the flames of that metaphoric fire. But how can we do this and worship God sincerely rather than dogmatically? When we exalt God, celebrate God, show gratitude towards God, and praise God we are worshipping God. It doesn’t have to be a specific way, it doesn’t even need to be said aloud, it can just be a willing thought within you, but importantly it must be something you do with your full intention and awareness which means in that moment you are putting God first.
For example a person, upon waking in the morning might say “Dear God, I acknowledge you, thank you for all that is good in my life, thank you for all you do”. This would be a demonstration of gratitude and praise. Similarly just saying “God is great” or “God is awesome” is worship. They do not need to be said aloud either because it is about you and God.
The metaphoric photographer would have simply taken a picture, ticked the box, and had a moment having said something like “Yes, I believe in God”, but like a photo that moment is in the past. To be like a photographer would mean that after the moment passes you carry on your life with no real change and God is no longer in your thoughts, your deeds and your heart. Perhaps when the moment arose you were more like the metaphoric explorer and you took those first steps, but what if along the way you have become distracted, even if it is by something as beautiful as Jesus, or perhaps it is the sense of belonging to a group or adopting a system of faith? If your enthusiasm for these devotions, friendships, or group activities eclipse your focus on God then, you are no longer BEING spiritual, and you have now, perhaps inadvertently and innocently, fallen into ACTING spiritual. To have BEEN spiritual but fallen into ACTING spiritual, is worse off than where you were before that first moment. Because now you know of God but you are no longer focused upon God. Innocently, accidentally have you turned you back on God because something on the way back to God has drawn your attention? or perhaps burning desire has been replaced by familiarity and habit?
It may seem harsh to say you are worse off, but remember your soul and spirit exist for this one journey, to bring you closer to God so it is not just God that you may have accidentally turned away from, but also your own soul, spirit and thus your higher self. But as you hear this, please understand, understanding this provides you a choice and all choices have a side that will take you closer to God. So this is simply a wakeup call to help you spot a potential problem and give you the chance to reflect on your real level of spirituality, meaning your burning desire and focus on God. If you know the truth, then the journey is to live it and the call here is to “Live according to what you know to be true”.
But real truth is not the truth within, it is the truth beyond, because truth cannot be personal, since what is true for one must be true for all. And so truth or rather “Real truth” must be something truly great, which is why I’ve said in the past “To seek the truth is to seek God” and so to live according to truth is to live according to God. Living according to your own truth is putting yourself first and ultimately comes from ego. So the opposite, which is to live according to God as truth, is the opposite of ego. Living according to God means that God is in everything you do and all the time you have, since God is greater than everything and is beyond all time, then there is no-where, no-action, and no time where God cannot be with you and you cannot make the right choice. So the journey is to embrace the whole of it, and The Six Virtues which we’ve discussed many times in previous podcasts, are like stepping stones helping you to move in that direction.
For example if you know about HUMILITY, which is the first of The Six Virtues, then once you know about it you have the opportunity to live by it, consciously developing your humility through an intention and desire to be more humble. Knowing about humility but not living by it is fruitless, just as knowing about God but not worshipping God is fruitless. If you were to live by The Six Virtues and importantly demonstrate all six of them towards God then you would be demonstrating what it truly means to worship God.
This reveals to us that The Six Virtues are a fantastic way of understanding, framing and putting into practice having God in our lives while keeping God at the forefront, since The Six Virtues intentionally are to be explored in relation to God. If you wish to be more spiritual and avoid stagnating then are there other things you could do, in addition to The Six Virtues? The good news is that I’ve already mentioned a few in this podcast. For example choosing to worship God by what you say, out loud or in the privacy of your own thoughts. By having the intention to be the explorer rather than the photographer; by being wary of becoming distracted; and simply the intention to put God first in all you do. But remember, that long list of words earlier, by embracing these ways of being and becoming more good then we will naturally find it easier to give our attention towards God.
There is one final thing you can do, which is often forgotten or overlooked, and it comes from God. God truly loves all of humanity, unconditionally. God wants you to become closer, and is guiding you in ways you may never comprehend so ask God, and Jesus too, for help. For example: “Dear God, I trust you, please help me to become closer to you, dear Jesus, thank you for all you do for humanity and for your guidance, I intend to be more receptive.”
So simmering this all down:
Spirituality is to know of God and to have a yearning or desire to be closer to God. Your soul journey is to live according to God’s goodness, and The Six Virtues are at the core of mastering this and also avoiding becoming distracted since they keep you out of ego and focused on God. You are not alone and God and Jesus are there supporting every step of your journey, it is OK to ask for help. Help can come in many ways and perhaps there is a reason you’ve found this podcast?
God bless you.