23.4 Spirituality in life2 Our spiritual life consists of the deepest and most fundamental loves that belong to us. These are the loves that make up the substances of our mind. These are the most fundamental substances that are part of ourselves rather than of God. Remember that God, as we postulated in Chapter 12, is life itself, so one essential part of our spiritual life is the first thing of ourselves: the first reception of life (love and wisdom) from God.
We need spiritual life and loves for everything we do since all our actions are motivated by some love or another (we are not machines that are motivated only by physical energies and forces). Some of our spiritual loves are good and unselfish, whereas some may be be evil and selfish. Some of us may erroneously think we can avoid considerations of spirituality by concentrating on everyday life and its demands and enjoyments. However we still have our own characteristic spiritual loves, even if we are not aware of what they are, let alone that we make any effort to improve them.
According to the theism being developed here, there must be two deep loves in operation. These will be termed the ‘inmost love’ and the ‘permanent spiritual love’. The inmost love is constant at all times, and is the first recipient responsible for maintaining our identity as other aspects and loves of our life change. The second love, derived from the inmost love, is a life that is permanent only in the sense of being built up during the first adult parts of our lives and then remaining relatively constant.
Permanent spiritual love is formed in the same way that all mental life is formed. That formation uses the constraints built up by the physical actions in our historical past to make permanent mental and spiritual structures. These, respectively, make our mind and our soul. We can of course invent in our minds temporary mental and spiritual states (by thinking and desiring, respectively), but they will not last for long if there is no history or framework to preserve them. The historical actions that are the basis for our internal life are not every action or circumstance that we participated in. Rather, the important actions are just those particular actions that were the joint action of our own loves and our own deliberate thought. It is such actions that become part of our selves and contribute to making up what we are. Those actions are the products that come from inside us, not those that are involuntarily imposed on us from the outside.23.4
Spiritual development is based on what loves have deliberately entered into the actions of our lives. Such development does not depend only on knowledge or insight, not even on insight concerning spiritual things, unless those enter into actions. Neither is spiritual development based on meditation or development of an internal sight (either in daily life or in some dissociated state) unless that sight is used to discriminate and decide what actions are to be made in life. All these actions in life must be actual physical responses that make a difference to the world and are not confined to spiritual or mental decisions. Only physical events produce the ‘outer layer’ of our spiritual and mental lives that keep them permanently retained.
In a very definite sense, our spiritual loves define who we are, including what
sort of person we are. In Section 11.3 we saw some
of the ways by which we come to observe our loves, and the same procedure applies
to our spiritual loves. Let me repeat what was written there: The loves are that
which determine what we would do in various situations, just like the dispositions
and potentialities of physics. Our loves may thus be discerned by one of the following
All of these physical or mental ‘experiments’ must be conducted in some freedom, otherwise external restrictions will limit what can be seen in each case and hence limit the accuracy of our perception of ourselves.23.5
In all of spiritual development, we have the importance of actions in life. We can never achieve spiritual development by sitting quietly with our hands by our sides, waiting for God to act. Rather, we act, as if from ourselves, as then love and wisdom (from God) can enter into action and contribute both to the world and to our own inner life.
Religions should be addressing these issues. Many do, but do not always place sufficient importance on the difficulties. Since God is a God of love, and since God resides with us in our loves, the detailed perception and development of our spiritual loves is extremely important. It is crucial even in everyday life, since the whole tenor of our family, professional, social and political lives depends on our own spiritual loves permeating into all our decisions and actions. Religion should help us to deal with conflicting spiritual loves--as happens in states of temptation--and encourage us to rely on the truths and power of God in such situations.
There are clearly very many things to be discovered about the spiritual history of humans in various civilizations, cultures, religions and churches, much more than I could possibly know or even surmise.