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Spirituality in everyday life

In this article published in december 1997 in the magazine L’Être et l’esprit, Bahram Elahi presents his conception of “natural spirituality,” reviewing its fundamental principles. “Natural spirituality” is a spirituality adapted to the very nature of man, it involves a daily practice based on what he calls “natural meditation”. “Natural spirituality” is not related to any ritual or particular religious tradition. It implies developing a deep faith in God which will provide the guidance and energy needed to achieve spiritual perfection.

In your book Foundations of Natural Spirituality you present a revolutionary approach to spirituality. Could you summarize your definition of spirituality for us?

Spirituality is the knowledge that allows human beings to reach their perfection, meaning the state in which their primordial nature is realized. It can be considered as a complete experimental science that can guide us toward true knowledge of our rights and duties, which exist in any authentic spirituality. From this perspective, spirituality should be approached with a scientific mindset. As with any experimental science, we have to learn step by step, understand, practice, experience, absorb, assimilate, and advance until we reach total knowledge of the “self” and the laws that shape its development. Of course, this process does not end with the death of the physical body, which is a temporary albeit necessary tool for laying the foundations of our future development.

If I speak of “natural spirituality,” it is because spirituality can lead to realization only if it is adapted to our true nature and our authentic spiritual needs. Like the human body, the human soul requires nourishment. But just as there are harmful foods for the body, there are poisonous spiritual foods as well. For example, when we put a falsified divine principle into practice, or one that is not of divine origin, we are poisoning our true self. We need to implement a spirituality therefore that is able to nourish our spirit and ensure its gradual maturation and natural growth. Natural spirituality fulfills this need by teaching us the original divine principles that correspond to the nature of our true self.

These principles, which are common to all religions, can be summarized in a few relatively simple points: fighting against our weak points until we are able to establish perfect equilibrium between our excesses and deficiencies; considering the Creator present and observant, with the certitude that He is both benevolent and an educator, while seeking to attract His satisfaction in everything that we do; and acting appropriately toward others in the sense that we respect their rights and observe the fundamental principles of ethics and religion. These principles are the basis for order and comfort in society and serve to establish equilibrium between our spiritual and material lives. The application of these principles requires that each of us lead an active social life.

In this “process of perfection,” what is the role of faith in the Source?

As we just alluded to, the function of spirituality is to harmoniously develop the souls of human beings so that they can realize their primordial nature and reach perfection. Faith plays a central role in this process and provides us with the necessary motivation for advancement. Faith can be defined as an attraction toward transcendence or the divine. Consequently, the greater our faith, the more we are attracted toward the divine and the greater our desire to advance. Considering that our souls have a metaphysical origin, only metaphysical energy derived from the true Source can ensure this advancement. Natural meditation or attention makes it possible for us to benefit from this metacausal energy. In natural meditation, we seek to consider the Source present and observant in all states, and strive for our actions to be in accord with His satisfaction. It is through a profound understanding of the basic principles and their application that we can gradually attain a level of spiritual knowledge and experience that allows us to recognize where divine satisfaction lies in each situation and to act accordingly.

Faith also helps us to identify teachings that are appropriate for the harmonious development of our spiritual dimension. Although the Creator always extends a rope of guidance on earth, there are numerous tempter forces that are quite active as well. How, then, can we properly distinguish between true guidance and the false ones? Here again, it is only faith that can help us to identify the correct guidance and lead us toward perfection, protecting us from falling into the ravines of misguidance.

When we speak of faith, we mean a pure and sincere faith in the true Source, not in imaginary mental conceptions. Indeed, if our faith is insincere, or if we have faith in a false source, we will be deprived of the positive effects of having faith. Sincere faith causes the Source to awaken the faculty of discerning the truth within us, which prevents us from being deceived by spiritual peddlers.

To grow and develop, human beings need what we have called “divine warmth” and “divine light.” Divine light refers to spiritual knowledge, or the ensemble of authentic ethical principles of divine origin whose application enables us to achieve sufficient comprehension and thereby to internally assimilate them. Divine warmth, on the other hand, refers to divine love, the love that we feel toward the Creator, which generates within us the necessary motivation and energy for action.

Faith causes us to absorb divine warmth and light in the right proportions—that is why it is indispensable at every stage. In addition, faith constitutes a solid barrier against the pathogenic elements that threaten to weaken and sicken the souls of all human beings; it should be noted here that all human beings are susceptible to these pathogenic elements. Faith also plays a primary role in the process that enables human beings to dominate their weak points, while also enabling us to eliminate or at least diminish the side effects that may result from the inappropriate struggle against them (such as the creation of a complex). In general, faith is the primary reason that we can attract divine energy to overcome our weak points. As such, sincere faith in the true Source can be considered as the cornerstone of spiritual perfection.

It seems as though you are attributing a great deal of importance to the practice of spirituality in our daily lives. Could you elaborate on this point?

Although the classical spirituality of the past was a process that was undertaken away from society, it should be noted that there is no contradiction between spirituality and social life. Given that the goal of spirituality is the perfection of the soul, society is the best environment in which to develop positive human qualities, for it is only in society that we are in constant interaction with our fellow beings. If at every time and in every place we perceive every occurrence from a spiritual perspective, and at the same time strive in our daily lives to adhere our thoughts and actions to the principles of natural spirituality, every action will become spiritual and it is no longer necessary to devote a separate time or place for the observance of our spiritual practice.

Spirituality in daily life means that we should feel the Creator’s presence in all of the moments of our lives; that we should remember we are not alone, and a compassionate yet exacting Source is watching after us; and that we should strive to act in accordance with His satisfaction in everything that we do. This state of constant attention to the Source creates a positive motivation and mobilizing energy within us to have greater focus on the acquisition of self-knowledge and greater trust in our relationship with the Source. Likewise, constant attention strengthens our confidence and our sense of inner peace. Practicing natural spirituality expands and deepens our field of perception little by little, to the point that we can find answers to our own questions. From a different perspective, the other meaning of spirituality is to respect the rights of others in our interactions with them—that is, to want for others what we want for ourselves. This does not mean, however, that we should neglect to defend our own rights when it is necessary to do so.

Spirituality also teaches us that “evil” has no substantive existence, but rather results from the dysfunction of responsible beings such as humans. Therefore, we have a duty to fight against evil, but this does not imply that we should perceive others as being evil or to wish ill upon them. It is in this context that forgiveness and forbearance find true meaning, and tolerance and empathy become important.

In summary, spirituality in our ordinary daily lives means having constant attention to our inner self (self-knowledge), to others (observing rights), and to the Source (attention).


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8 comments

  1. msmrangidan Sep 10, 2010 1:11 am 1

    Thank you.

  2. NHK Sep 11, 2010 10:21 pm 2

    Quick question: What exactly does this mean (second question) “inappropriate struggle?” Does it mean that when we struggle against our weak points, at first we make mistakes?

    Thanks!

  3. Happi Sep 13, 2010 8:09 am 3

    I learn from this article that there is a relationship on confidence and natural spirituality in our daily life.
    Using spirituality in our daily life to build self confidence, and how we can go from low self esteem to feeling good about ourselves, in any situation. Every problem that we have is from relationships, health, money or work that is ultimately caused by low self-esteem. Egoistic people are insecure about themselves. A person with high self-esteem is happier, more peaceful and accepts failure.
    As we develop a relationship with God through natural spirituality, we come to realize that he has created us and therefore, he has found something good in us. We are part of the universe. We’re good, lovable, by the fact that we’re God’s creation: God doesn’t make junk. When we feel the Creator’s presence in our daily lives we begin to experience less fear and more joy.

  4. boski Sep 14, 2010 3:55 am 4

    @NHK

    I think “inappropriate struggle” refers to wrong methods of dealing with our weak points. Same as wrong ways one can take to heal a broken bone in the body.
    For every weakness of our Self there should be an optimum and effective way of treatment. For example to deal with anger, one can try to keep calm, at least in outside (appropriate way) or try to shout it out and wear the anger away (inappropriate way). Usually the side effects of inappropriate struggles if not grim, are bitter.

  5. neuro Sep 28, 2010 3:53 am 5

    Thanks for a great article. I have tried to think about attention to the Source as a pair of eyes and ears literally accompanying me throughout my day. This forces me to watch what I say, do, and think at all times, thereby (hopefully) making me somewhat more aware and careful. This is great because it transforms natural mediation into a practical form of spirituality, which is an amazing aspect of Ostad Elahi’s philosophy.

  6. Zara Nov 15, 2010 8:07 am 6

    Thanks for a great article

  7. NN Jan 11, 2011 8:08 pm 7

    It is important to go through this process of Natural Spirituality and have faith. At times it’s hard for me in my day to day affairs and try to understand, practice and even assimilate. Even for one second I feel like I don’t know anything, I realize that it is my faith that keeps me going, and pushes me to know that God is everywhere. It’s a constant day to day struggle to know that new weaknesses present themselves, and how you go about dealing with them. When I realize I have a certain weakness, it’s just hard for me to understand how to balance it, so it’s neither in excess nor deficient. I have the faith, but it’s a struggle to know where I stand with the excesses and deficiencies of a weak point. So I don’t even know where to start. This for me is the hardest struggle.

  8. Eileen May 14, 2011 3:27 am 8

    This explains how we need to live our life according to Natural Spirituality in language that is, to me, most understandable. Prof. Elahi’s words and explanation of faith have made me feel so hopeful that God loves me and all of us; that He is watching over us, protecting and guiding us. These words help me to feel “safe” and inspire me with hope for God’s mercy and compassion for all my wrong decisions, misdeeds, sins and iniquities.

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