Inner and Outer Life: Everyone of us has a private space in our lives that we carefully guard. I call it ‘The Garden of Life’. A garden is a personal space you can go out into and to enjoy the peace, the cool air, the shadows of trees, the sun shining with translucent light through tree leaves and palm fronds, the perfume of beautiful blossoms.
No one else comes there except yourself and your family. Even friends do not just drop in. They are invited out there with you after you have let them into your house. Strangers who come are intruders and will be dwelt with by the police.
It is the same with relationships. You have to enter someone’s inner life with their consent. You do this by placing great value on the person and listening intently to what they say, as though it is absolutely important. By listening intently (consciously in a rational way and unconsciously with your intuition), you are as it were, gently knocking on the door of their inner house. If that person trusts you, they will then invite you into the garden of their life. Then you can talk gently back and forth and then you have established a relationship with them. They will open their door of their inner life at a later time if you knock. To keep that process going is a Sustainable Relationship. If I act suspiciously or try and crash the door with a sledge hammer, I will not be let in. That is what I call an Unsustainable Relationship.
The Garden of Life leads to a Sustainable Life or an Unsustainable Life.
A Sustainable Life has the ability to be continually renewed and maintained everyday. Each of these components act like legs on a tripod which sit on large rock near the ocean. When the storms and waves of life of life come, if the legs are strong, the waves will go over you but you will sit firmly on the rock of life. If one of the legs is weak, the tripod of your life will fall over in what you could call an Unsustainable Life. Such a life has these three components:
- Structure to life: Gives order, direction, aims and achievable objectives i.e. overall purpose. This component has to do with our body and the fact that we have a mass weight. If we do not structure in our life, it is a bit like having a body without bones. We would never get off the ground.
- Social Network to life: The people around us: the synergistic effect … multiplication and complementary effect of effort: Family & friends, Clubs and Organisations, Associations, Churches, General Community, Work Colleagues. This component has to do with our emotions, our will and our mind and sharing these with other people.
- Spirituality to life: Is the inner room of your life ….. Answers such questions as: Who are we as people?, What is the meaning of life?, Am I significant?, What values should I live by?, Gives identity and destiny.
As I have a Christian Spirituality, the rock of life is God and his surety of life. Such a spirituality is central to my restoration in the last twenty years from a very severe brain injury. It is a very wholistic view on the whole of life of Inner, Middle and Outer Persons (Spirit, Soul and Body). See the post: A life changing situation
Inherent in this framework is an understanding of our uniqueness as a created being, sustained by a loving Creator. This is in contrast to seeing all of life as being hereby chance and evolution. It is interesting to see what the late Sir Fred Hoyle one of Britain’s best-known mathematicians and astronomers in the last half of the 20th century said:
‘The notion that not only the biopolymer but the operating program of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial organic soup here on the Earth is evidently nonsense of a high order.’
Hoyle originated the famous illustration comparing the random emergence of even the simplest cell to the likelihood that ‘a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.’ Hoyle also compared the chance of obtaining even a single functioning protein by chance combination of amino acids to a solar system full of blind men solving the Rubik’s Cube simultaneously—see The website: creation.com …. Rubik’s Cube and Blind Men. Some more problems with evolutionary ‘origin-of-life’ scenarios can be found in the Q&A pages under Origin of Life and Probability.
With this evolutionary view on life, life is here by blind chance. This is the opposite view on life where life is here by a personal presence behind the universe. There is an infinite – personal God behind the universe. This infinite – personal God comes to us through Jesus Christ who lived, died and was resurrected 2,000 years ago to build a relationship with us. This leads into a Christian Spirituality. It isn’t an infinite – impersonal energy force that you tap into. A Christian Spirituality is not an abstract belief in some unseen dimension but it is about a living relationship with a Personal Higher Power who is the infinite – personal God manifested through the Holy Spirit who is in us if we choose. This is a 24/7 Vertical Spirituality which then flows out into a Horizontal spirituality to other people with the purpose of aiding others to find a better quality of life and belief system. In your life, it is where you are there for other people as Albert Einstein said long ago …. Not for what you can get from them but what you can impart into their lives for good in an inner sense. We are here for one another …… I have a component of life that you need and you have a component of life that I need.
A Christian Spirituality is not an abstract belief in some unseen dimension but it is about a living relationship with a Personal Higher Power who is the infinite – personal God through the Holy Spirit. This is a 24/7 Vertical Spirituality which then flows out into a Horizontal spirituality to other people with the purpose of aiding others to find a better quality of life and belief system. In your life, it is where you are there for other people as Albert Einstein said long ago …. Not for what you can get from them but what you can impart into their lives for good in an inner sense. We are here for one another …… I have a component of life that you need and you have a component of life that I need.
Spirituality is implicit (inwardly self evident and undefined). It refers to how an individual lives meaningfully with the ultimate questions of life, his or her response to the deepest truths of the universe as he or she apprehends these. It answers such queries as:
- Who are we as a people?
- What is the meaning of life?
- What values should I live by?
Spirituality brings a sense of identity and when you have sense of identity, you then have a destiny or purpose in life. People who have no identity have no sense of purpose in life. They are continually looking for identity in other people. This way leads to very dysfunctional way of life. This paper looks at our sense of identity in further sections below.
On the other hand, Religion is the antithesis of spirituality. It is explicit (outwardly evident and defined) and is marked by four things: a cult, creed, code (ethics) and community (which is more inward looking). It ends up being very law-centred …. Focussing on precise ways of living life ….. ends up with very defined expectations and precise programs.
We are also like the vacuum cleaner ….. nothing really happens in our life until we are plugged into the vertical Universal Power Source which is God
Do you have a Religion or a Spirituality?
They are different in approach. This is between those with:
No apparent Spirituality and no relationship with the infinite – personal God ………… Passionate Spirituality and relationship with the infinite – personal God …… all people are somewhere along this continuum ….. There can be a lot of religion = knowing about God or ….. to relationships with God = knowing God personally.
- What is the meaning of life?
- What values should I live by?
Everyone has a spiritual identity, whether they know it or not. There are two aspects to spirituality:
- HORIZONTAL SPIRITUALITY = RELATIONAL SPIRITUALITY:
A relationship with ourselves, other people, the Earth in a physical sense …… the whole environment of trees, open spaces, the sky, the earth as ground, animals and all living things. We are all part of an interdependent web of life.
- VERTICAL SPIRITUALITY:
The example used above of the vacuum cleaner is further used to further explain spirituality. A vertical spirituality can be illustrated like looking at a vacuum cleaner. When you look at one for the first time on the floor, you can walk around it …. looking at it as sleek shape, the colour of it, noting the hollow hose, the name on it, the lid which unclips with a bag inside, the small wheels which turn, the electric cord rolled up inside. You pull it apart noting the electric motor and wiring etc. However, if you never plug it in, nothing happens … We are like the vacuum cleaner ….. nothing really happens in our life until l we are plugged into the vertical Universal Power Source which is God.