Attending to the Sacred

Many of us have a general or intuitive idea that which is sacred. Photo from facebook page Souful NatureThere is an intrinsic quality to the Sacred – a radiance, connection or presence that awakens consciousness.  A sublime buoyancy.  Attending to the Sacred gives our lives meaning and motion.  It is therefore important that we invite the Sacred into our lives — to remain open to a larger Self or with an aspect of Nature or God.  Methodologies that encourage transcendent experience — such as meditation, service, or shamanism — are helpful, but attending to the Sacred does not end there.  We have our whole lives to consider.

How we prioritize our attention
We define what we make sacred or profane in our lives by where we place our attention, by where we grant relevance. In other words, how do we prioritize our choices?  For example, it is possible to focus energy and resources on the worship of materialism while storing a spiritual ideal on the shelf (only to be removed on selective occasions, or collecting dust like a book we had meant to read). If we place our attention on greed we are, in a very real sense, making greed relevant – worshiping greed. There are more subtle examples on the path of disrespect.  The practice of mindfulness can help to illuminate the quality of our choices and will identify themes of personal importance – what we are making a priority by choice or participation.  We don’t need to nit-pick every choice or action.  On balance, how do we direct our time and energies? The quality of our choices can illumine or diminish our experience of radiance.

A hierarchy of needs
It’s fine and good to label ideals.  But sometimes we need to respond to basic needs and tasks of daily living.  When food is not available, it demands attention.  When food is available, it becomes a choice.  On the ideal end of the spectrum we can be conscious and reverent in our food choices.  On the other end, food can become a stimulus addiction.  We also have to consider how to house ourselves.  The necessities of daily living generally require some sort of employment and decisions on how to use our resources.

Work can be sacred in and of itself.  When work comes from an “on the beam” pursuit that provides a degree of bliss, the work is intrinsically sacred.  But not all work is pleasant, fulfilling, or in any way spiritual, so work can become a means by which we can measure our commitment to other sacred things in our lives.  For example, if we dislike our work, but are willing to endure it because we love our children, the work becomes sacred in response to taking care of and educating our children.  If on the other hand, we dislike our work but waste that hard-earned money on the inconsequential, then a sober conclusion is that we wasted our effort on that which lacks meaning or value.

Of course, our “work” is not necessarily defined by our employment.  What we have to give, our medicine, can become the focus of our life’s endeavor, whether we are paid for it or not.

Ultimately, we can define what is truly sacred by naming that which gives our life the most meaning, or the most meaningful experience. Lose it, and something in us will die.  This loss of the Sacred isn’t a temporary grief, but a lost connection that compels us to seek false gods and idols.

Making a stand for what is truly sacred
The spirit-warrior’s philosophy propels us to stand firm with that which is most sacred – the core aspects that define us as a person.  Making a stand becomes the practical necessity to maintain integrity or integrated boundaries. The spiritual warrior is not pious or inflated. He or she acts from the knowledge of a larger Self or Soul, from an ethical responsibility, or in preservation of the self from aggressive or acquisitional force.

One can make a stand for what may seem like a life or death situation, or over any decision or situation of perceived necessity in your life.  It is most important to have a clear understanding of what is sacred prior to making a stand.  Make a stand over something you later determine to be trivial or externally manipulated, and your stand loses all meaning.  Make a stand and become wounded over a false sacredness, and you may even become bitter.  When I’m making a stand, I ask myself:

1. Am I making a stand for the right reasons?
Am I motivated to act simply because I’m feeling angry, impulsive, bored, or hurt?  Am I being reactionary, trying to force change?   Am I guarding complacency, trying to maintain the status quo?  Or, am I striving to build selfhood and to create harmony or “right action.”  Right action means to act unselfishly, mindfully, and with intent of spirit.

2. Can I afford to make a stand?
Do I have the resources to create success or withstand failure?  Have I gathered – to the extent possible – the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical resources to engage necessary intent?

3. Is the timing right?
Am I wise to wait for a more auspicious time?   Does the flow of circumstance call for patience or action?  Do the forces that flow around and through me call for boldness or holding back?

4.  Is what I’m making a stand for sacred? Does my stand define me in a primary way?  Am I willing to die or be made wounded if I am not successful? Am I willing to accept responsibility and consequences because the situation is that important?

Asking these questions will help to define whether the stand is worth making and whether the timing is right.  Sometimes we need to bide our time.  Once we have determined that a situation requires a stand, we must gather our resources and endeavor to follow through.  If we do not, if we ignore a calling or sacred necessity or responsibility, then a portion of the sacred thing within us will atrophy.  If we allow that to happen with consistency, that sacred thing will die.  If enough sacred things die, we become spirit dead (or at the very least – spirit wounded).

Since I deem Spirit to be what ultimately drives life, I prefer to make that stand of my own volition and will.  Making a failed stand is less of an issue at that point because I know that death will come regardless.  A life that cannot define what is sacred will eventually be commandeered.

Photo from Facebook page Soulful Nature

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One Response to Attending to the Sacred

  1. irina says:

    Thank you, Jim.
    Food for thought.

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