First I have to say that I am spiritual (Creator given faith) and not religious (human created faith); I am also a Christian in that I believe that Jesus and the Creator are one in the same and that Jesus is the only way this sinning Gentile is going to make it into heaven. Below is another good description of this distinction:
“Spirituality is a broader concept than Religion or Faith Tradition. Many people choose to adhere to a religion or faith tradition which provides a source of belonging, meaning, and identity. Spirituality is broader because every person has a sense of spirituality, whether or not he/she is ‘religious’.
There may well be as many definitions of Spirituality as people on the globe. Many definitions, however, share common elements involving the struggle for meaning and the relationship of the Human Spirit to transcendence and hope.” (from Light the Way: A Guide for Spiritual Care in Times of Disaster for Disaster Response Volunteers, First Responders & Disaster Planners (72pgs) 2006 by Arkansas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster)
Plus two common themes permeated these various faiths:
- Humans, although the apex life form, are but a small part of the universe. Yet humans are the only life form that can greatly influence all the others, either for good or bad.
- Treating others as you wish to be treated is the common “behavioral law” of the faiths interviewed.
If we trust that "All things come from the Creator, and all things go to the Creator," then we can get through any challenge with the help of our connection to His spirit, no matter how we will be tested.
Embrace Humility. Arrogance has no place before the Higher Power. Humility is the only appropriate posture for a spirit granted the opportunity to experience the profound ways of life as a human being. No soul focused on pride and egoism can achieve spiritual peace and redemption.
Practice Compassion for All Living Things and Protection of Life. Arrogance often promotes a disregard for the conscious experiences or feelings of others. Feeling entitled or like a ruler, often leads to conceit and abusive actions towards people, animals or the living things of the earth in general. Real compassion is found by watching over and protecting others, assistance in teaching or mentoring others, and providing personal assistance in ways that transcend mere money or physical contact.
Pursue a life of virtue. After forgiveness we need to heed the universal laws of virtue and love through action. Or the “Golden Rule” of treating others as we ourselves wish to be treated.
Preparing our soul for judgment day means casting off the pursuit of materialism and the display of wealth in our daily lives, so we can instead focus on achieving a non-material personal growth that simultaneously serves the greater good of the universe. Most of us will find this kind of life rewarding, even if we don’t understand why.
According to the clergy interviewed, soul traps must be overcome through conscious recognition and effort. No one can do the work for us; each individual must overcome their own soul traps and break the weakness or vulnerability that previously held them back.
For example, a person who finds himself addicted to alcohol must overcome that addiction through personal choice and deliberate action in order for personal growth to occur. They must strengthen their attitudes and that can’t be done by avoidance alone. If they are somehow forced away from the bottle and denied the opportunity to choose that path on their own, no spiritual growth occurs and they will continue to drink alcohol. This strength must come from within, so that one controls their “demons” instead of the “demons” controlling them.
In fact quite a few religions consider this a sin against the G_d. The rejecting of foods made by nature and instead consuming foods made by Man is considered a “worship of Man and the evils of Man”. In consuming such items as genetically modified foods, chemical sweeteners, artificial colors, and so on, is considered a literal worship of Satanic forces. These religions believe that because “we are what we eat”; to consume such foods made with the intention of replacing nature's seeds, is to literally rebuild our body out of molecules of pure evil.
I can’t say that I personally agree completely with this “Satanic Force” and food worship idea. To me, human-kind cannot replace the “healthy foods” that the Creator gave us and when we try to, we tend to get sick. Oh we can “supplement” here and there, balance is the key. Hey I’m human, I love M&M’s (tons of food dyes and GM sugar)! However, I balance that with “natural”, un-adulterated by humans, foods.
Besides, look at all the “news” on herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers and human genetically modified foods that is out there today. I can’t help but think that “where there is smoke, there is fire”. Granted my viewpoint is somewhat biased, as I have many allergies and one of them is to Round-Up. So much so that I get hives from Round-Up GM grains and their products.
I was told that the contrast of living in artificial, man-made environments (i.e. urban areas and their office buildings and malls) separates us from the marvels of nature and distances us from the experience our spirit desires.
I personally don’t know if that is true or not - but – I do know this: I find it easy to achieve calmness and peace and to think when I’m away from the hub-bub of human activity.
Related to this is that today, society in general, is disconnected from what is involved in providing our necessity to life needs. How many people in urban environments know what it takes to produce the items in the meals they eat or to create fabric and turn it into a coat or shirt? So I can see how being in nature would feed our souls. Besides we can look back on human history and see examples where people who were considered “wise” and “great”, had often ventured into nature to gain “clarity” and “spiritual” connection.
From a preparedness standpoint, we can feed our souls by taking a trip to a “colonial village” or farm and gain a greater respect for what rural workers do for us, as well as perhaps learn a traditional skill that could become helpful in a SHTF scenario.
Although there are religions that are what I call “overzealous” in their evangelical missions, I have been assured by several clergy, of several faiths, that this does NOT mean arm-twisting or badgering people with scripture, etc. who aren't ready to embrace a spiritual reality of any kind. Instead, it's far better to meet people where they currently are spiritually, let them see how our spiritualty guides us and makes us strong and then invite them to explore new directions when they are ready.
Eat healthy and exercise to stay fit and physically strong. We may have a mobility or age health related challenge, however we can still keep our bodies physically fit.
Not a single clergy, of Christian and non-Christian religions, that I interviewed did not stress that our human physical body was the most basic “temple unto G_d”. I was repeatedly told that whatever we did to our own bodies was reflected in how we treated other living things – human or otherwise, and ultimately a reflection of our soul.
No matter where we are on the spectrum of our spirituality, no matter what faith or religion we are, it is wise to start NOW in moving in the right direction, because we humans honestly can't know how many days we even have remaining in our life on Earth.
- Identify your personal beliefs. Do this by collecting your thoughts and emotions.
- Pray or meditate for your Higher Power’s help, for strength, wisdom, protection and rescue or positive outcome from the “bad” scenario you are in. Give thanks that the Creator is with us. This is how we humans “talk” to our G_d.
- Select and remember a particular scripture, verse, or hymn that is spiritually motivational to you. Then repeat them to yourself and to your Higher Power as often as possible.
- Learn to worship without the aids of written scripture, clergy, or others. This is NOT to be done constantly, just often enough to be strong when these aids or props are not available in a crisis situation.
- Forgive yourself for what you have done or said that was wrong, what you may say or do wrong in the future and those who have failed you. Forgive others from wrongs done to you.
- Praise the Creator and give thanks because ultimately He is bigger than our circumstances and will see us through (no matter what happens).
- Acknowledge G_d Is In Control. If we accept this and realize that we most likely don't know His plans, then we can remain humble and not attempt to coerce or scare others into feeling as we do about faith or preparedness or anything else for that matter.
- Prepare without Fear. The Creator loves us and wishes to assist us in taking care of ourselves. That's why He gave each of us certain "gifts" or abilities. There is no need to go into debt to prepare, physically, mentally or spiritually.
- Be Faithful With What the Creator Provides. He wants us to be faithful with whatever He gives us in this life. To show our faithfulness by using our money wisely on life's necessities rather than spending on pleasures or wants is the truest gift to our G_d. This should apply even if you are not a Prepper.
- Give the Creator the Glory. Anything we do should be done as a gift to our G_d and His glory. This is accomplished by keeping our motives for our actions in alignment with the Creator. Thank Him regularly for providing us with the abilities to succeed in our everyday lives as well as with our spiritual, mental and physical preparedness.
- Prepare to Share. Any G_d-fearing faith expects us to share our wealth and wisdom with others. I don't know about other faiths, but I do know that the Bible also says to quantify our sharing with "he who is able, but doesn't work, shouldn't eat!". We can prepare with hope and share with our neighbors who are truly in need, and the vulnerable in our society (elderly, orphan, widow, handicapped, physically infirm, etc.) and know we are doing G_d’s will.
- Practice Understanding. Every clergy I spoke to stated that we humans have forgotten how to understand others. We are either all wrapped up in having others understand us or we get tangled up in thinking that our understanding them means we agree with them. Understanding where someone else is coming from or why they believe what they do, is NOT agreeing with them. Hand in hand with understanding is acceptance. We must also accept that someone else does not agree with us and leave it at that. If this is a spiritual matter that you are discussing, well then that person is not at a point in their spiritual well-being to actually listen to what we have to say on the matter. This obviously applies to all other subjects too.
Next week will cover why Mental and Spiritual Preparedness is necessary ;-}