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Practical Spirituality

by Keith Hill

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Or buy direct from Attar Books
Book Two of the Channelled Spirituality Series

Winner Best Unpublished Manuscript, in New Zealand's 2015 Ashton Wylie Awards for writing in the genre of mind, body and spirit.

From the Introduction:

“Whether you wish to be one or not, you are a spiritual being. You have a spiritual dimension at the core of your identity. But there is a difference between being a spirit and becoming spiritual. Being a spirit is a fact of human existence. Becoming spiritual requires an intent to consciously engage with the spiritual domain and make a sustained effort to connect your everyday self with your spiritual self.

Practical Spirituality outlines a psychospiritual approach to becoming spiritual. It involves coming to an appreciation of why you are the way you are, why you behave as you do, and why your life follows the path it does. A key factor is understanding the natures of your life goal and life plan and appreciating how they impact on the choices you make.

All this is practical. This book has been written to offer a practical means of discovering who you are, what you are here to achieve in this incarnation, and how to transform your life to achieve it. Becoming spiritual will enable you to become a more competent and knowing owner-operator of a body and its core spiritual identity.”

Practical Spirituality is the second in a series of channelled books that offer a psychospiritual approach to inner development. Designed for twenty-first century seekers, it draws on G.I. Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way and the channelled Michael Teachings to clarify the developmental process within a reincarnational context. Key concepts include:

  • How core disposition gives you a unique spiritual identity
  • What was involved when you decided to be born into your current life
  • The purposes of and differences between life plan and life goal
  • Human identity as a complex consisting of five layers
  • The creation, purpose and resolving of karmic relationships
  • How life lessons are crucial to inner development
  • Why you need to master the art of incarnation and how to do so
194 pages, 6 x 9 inches / 129 x 152 mm
ISBN Paperback: 9780995105904, Hardcover: 9780995105928
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Keith Hill’s work explores the intersection of mysticism, history, science, religion and psychology. His books include The God Revolution, Striving To Be Human and Practical Spirituality, each of which won the Ashton Wylie Award, New Zealand’s premiere prize for spiritual writing.
CHAPTER ONE: ON BECOMING SPIRITUAL

This chapter begins with a warning. Becoming spiritual is not easy. Learning what your personal life plan is, understanding what you are here to achieve during the course of this particular lifetime, and deciding how to live in order to best give expression to your deepest spiritual aims, is no easily accomplished task.

There are many barriers to understanding who you are and how you function as an individual. There are further barriers to putting hard won understanding into action in daily living. Some of these barriers are external, consisting of socially and religiously constructed taboos regarding what you may legitimately delve into. One is projected fear, which is a control mechanism that stops you entering deeply into yourself. If you are reading this we can assume you have already overcome the majority of these external barriers.

However, the most significant barriers, and the most difficult to overcome, are internal. They consist of the various defensive behaviours of denying, justifying, deflecting and attacking that exist within your own psychological make-up. In order to become aware of your life plan you first need to identify your inner nature. And to identify your inner nature you need to confront and overcome these inner barriers.

Because the way these inner barriers function is multi-levelled and devious, analysis of them needs to be detailed. So while this book has been written as clearly as possible, the detail it contains regarding the mechanisations of the human psychospiritual make-up itself presents yet another barrier.

That is why this chapter begins with a warning. In places what follows is complex and dense. But it needs to be in order to do justice to the complexity of human awareness and in order to offer a practical way of delving into and changing that complexity.

So, if you have taken this warning on board, and you are willing to appreciate that this book will only make sense to you to the degree that you are willing to spend time comprehending what it elucidates of your inner make-up, and you further appreciate that the cycle of understanding will only be completed when you apply what is presented here to your own life, then we may happily proceed.

YOU ARE A SPIRITUAL BEING

Whether you wish to be one or not, you are a spiritual being. Whether you acknowledge it or not, you have a spiritual dimension at the core of your identity. This means that being spiritual is not a big deal. You don’t require a special initiation from those in the know. You already are a spirit every moment of your existence. Furthermore, this reality is not reliant on you knowing it. Whatever your beliefs, whatever your outlook on life, whether you deny or affirm it, you possess a spirit that, at all times and in all situations, functions deep within you according to its particular nature.

Of course, not everyone is aware of their spiritual dimension. For some spirit is a fact of daily existence experienced when meditating or praying, or when sharing with others, when looking at the stars in the night sky, or when listening to a moving piece of music. For others spirit is felt only during moments of extreme emotion or physical duress. Yet others have no conscious experience of spirit at all. Naturally, not experiencing spirit doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

This means there is a difference between being a spirit and being spiritual. Being a spirit is a fact of human existence that is the case whether it is known or not. Becoming spiritual requires an intent to consciously engage with spirit and make a sustained effort to connect your everyday self with your spiritual self.

The task of becoming spiritual is achieved in a variety of ways. Historically, human beings have used meditation, worship and prayer, bodily austerities, yoga, martial arts, daily work, psychotherapies and intellectual study to enhance their spiritual understanding. This book outlines a psychospiritual approach to becoming spiritual that uses the human psychological make-up as a springboard into experiencing spirit. It involves coming to an appreciation of why you are the way you are, why you behave as you do, and why your life follows the paths it does. A key factor is understanding your life goal and life plan and appreciating how they impact on the choices you make.

Because each human being is already a spirit, this approach to becoming spiritual begins wherever you are living right now. And it proceeds in whichever direction you are already travelling. So you don’t have to go anywhere in particular, or live in any special way, or give assent to any particular words, in order to practise it. This approach doesn’t require you to change your lifestyle. You can keep doing what you already do. But you do need to transform your perception, understanding and intention while doing so. Books such as this can be used to stimulate, and even facilitate, inner transformation. So can identifying those concepts and motives that underpin your everyday self and expand or close down your perception and understanding. Discernment is always required of those who would become spiritual.

What all this adds up to is that at your core you are a spiritual identity. Of course, you consciously and knowingly experience this only occasionally, if at all, but because you are a spiritual identity spirit is always present in your daily living. Becoming spiritual, which in this case means using a psychospiritual process to delve into what is occurring within you, will enable you to appreciate and understand your core spiritual nature. This is done by building a bridge between the everyday self and the spiritual self, with the spiritual self eventually actively participating in your everyday life.

In short, becoming spiritual is the task of becoming a more competent and knowing owner-operator of a body and of its core spiritual identity.

YOUR LIFE JOURNEY AS A BUS RIDE

What prevents you from gaining knowledge of, and so directly experiencing, your core spiritual identity? What is the primary barrier to transforming your perception, understanding and intention? You are. You are the barrier that prevents you from realising who, what and why you are.

In order to appreciate how the barrier operates, envisage your life journey as a bus ride. Bus travel is straight forward. You go to a bus stop and wait for a bus. When one drives up, you climb on board, pay the fare, ride for a distance, and alight when it reaches where you wish to go. However, for that journey to be possible a complex series of activities has already occurred.

First, the bus needs to exist. This means that the design, engineering and building of the bus coach has taken place. Additionally, a public or private transportation company, having worked through all the regulations, laws, fees and employment issues, has: purchased the bus and has a business plan to pay operating costs; designed and published schedules and timetables; and organised ticket signage, advertising and purchasing. So while catching a bus is a very simple activity, the organisation behind getting a bus to a specific stop at a certain time, and so delivering passengers to their destinations, involves a complex interplay of intensely organised activities.

This scenario equally applies to your life journey. Long before you were born the human species had evolved on this planet. Then, over the millennia, as human numbers increased, and as individuals worked together in increasingly sophisticated ways, humanity’s ancient forebears organised orderly food production, built towns and cities, laid roads, and established communities of all kinds. Each individual is born into particular languages, laws, systems of education, religions and social practices. So each life journey occurs within a complex web of pre-existing conditions.

You need a map, a schedule and money in order to make the most of bus travel. Similarly, to make the most of the opportunity of being a spiritual identity “riding” a body, you need the psychospiritual equivalents of maps, schedules and money. These are perception, knowledge and intention. With these you can journey, experience places, and live a satisfying life. Without them a life journey remains timid, uncertain, and ultimately unsatisfying.

The question then arises: Why bother to consider these deeper aspects of human existence? Since everyone already possesses a spirit, what’s the point in developing deeper spiritual perception, knowledge and intention? What’s the purpose of becoming spiritual? If everyone is already on a life journey, why spend time and effort trying to comprehend how the bus was built, what routes are available, and what the full array of destinations are? Why can’t individuals just keep to their current habitual life schedule, go where their body and life circumstances take them, and leave it at that?

This is where the earlier statement that you are the barrier becomes relevant. Because to answer a question with another question, what part of an individual is asking what is the point in making an effort? The answer is that this is a question asked by the everyday identity.

The everyday identity is immersed in everyday life. The intricacies of everyday living are all it can see. In contrast, the spiritual identity sees much deeper. But everyday identity is so caught up in its life circumstances and so involved in its reactions to those circumstances that it remains unaware of the spiritual identity’s presence, let alone its aims. So it questions the validity of the deeper issues that engage the spiritual identity. In effect, there is a barrier within the human psychospiritual makeup. It is a barrier that isolates the everyday identity from the spiritual identity.

Actually, such a barrier is necessary because it enables individuals to become fully immersed in the circumstances of their life journey and so to live out the consequences of their chosen life plan. But at the same time it prevents individuals from becoming aware of their spiritual identity. It keeps them in ignorance of what they were born into a body to achieve. We call this barrier the momentum of everyday awareness.

THE BARRIER OF THE EVERYDAY

Everyday awareness is generated by the everyday identity immersed in the circumstances of everyday living. It limits the acquisition of spiritual-level experience and knowledge because it keeps human beings locked into a repet-ition of the familiar, the known, the comfortable, the safe. It doesn’t make any difference if an individual’s repetitive everyday identity is negative or positive, destructive or affirming, tough and arduous, or easy-going and soft. This is because human beings get comfortable as much with the harsh, the tough and the unrelenting as they do with their opposites. It is the repetition itself that forms the barrier. Whatever everyday experiences consist of, they generate a momentum that everyday awareness settles into. Once that happens life becomes familiar and comfortable. As a consequence, individuals remain blind to the deeper reality that underpins their existence.

Becoming spiritual is a process that changes all this. It transforms the everyday awareness of the everyday identity by filling it with the spiritual awareness of the spiritual identity. As a result, everyday life becomes imbued with spiritual presence. This is a transformation that occurs by increments, over a period of years, as spiritual awareness gradually seeps into an individual’s everyday awareness. The end result is a life that is transformed from the inside out. The essential prerequisite to achieving inner transformation is intention. Without the intention to be curious, to explore, to move out of where and what you are, each of you remains stuck, limited and unknowing.

It needs to be made clear that five key assumptions underpin the psychospiritual approach to transforming and spiritualising everyday perceptions and understanding. These assumptions need to be identified before we start.

FIVE KEY ASSUMPTIONS

First, as we have already asserted, at their core each human being is a spiritual identity. Each individual spiritual identity exists within, but is not identical to, a physical body. This implies that a human being, as spiritual identity, existed before its body was born and will continue to exist after it dies.

Second, because human beings are fundamentally spiritual identities, they do not live just one life in one body. Human spiritual identities live many lives in many bodies. Reincarnation is assumed here as a fact of spiritual being.

Third, the purpose of reincarnation is for individuals to gain experience, to expand understanding, and, to put it simply, to get better at what they do. Just as anyone becomes better at any task through practice, so all become better at being an embodied spiritual identity through repeatedly trying their hand at the numerous and varied possibilities that being human facilitates. By practising, each spiritual identity acquires skills, knowledge and understanding and learns to better love and share. Because these behaviours and traits are difficult to achieve, and because the human domain is a complex and difficult place for spiritual identities to navigate through, no one gets everything right at the first try. Repeated incarnations are required. As with everything else in the human domain, only practice makes perfect.

Fourth, with each incarnation every embodied spirit has a psychologically oriented life goal and a simple or intricate life plan. But the problem is:

Fifth, when spiritual identities enter a body they forget what and who they are and why they have incarnated in a body. As a result, they are diverted from fulfilling their goal and plan.

So a significant step in the task of becoming spiritual involves each individual remembering who they are and what they are here to achieve. This is the crux of becoming spiritual. It is easy to jump on a bus, buy a ticket and go wherever the bus takes you. It is much more difficult to move into the driver’s seat and start steering the bus yourself. To drive the bus you need knowledge and skill. And you need the intent to drive the bus in the first place. Which means you need to become aware that it is possible to drive the bus, that you have that choice.

There are many barriers preventing individuals from taking charge of their life journey and implementing all aspects of their life plan. There is the momentum of everyday awareness, which needs to be changed. There are negative psychological behaviours and traits that limit everyday awareness and keep it trundling day after day down the same narrow inner streets. And there is the weight of everyday life itself, which presses down on human awareness, captures its attention, and keeps individuals asleep to, and ignorant of, their own deeper reality and possibilities.

The key is transformation. However, transformation requires not just the intent to transform, but knowledge of how to do so, along with consistent and sustained application. Together, intent, knowledge and application help human beings make the most of their life possibilities.

LIFE IS A JOURNEY

This is a book about journeying. It is about discovering new things about your self. It is about going where you haven’t been before. And it is about perceiving what you haven’t seen before.

At times what you find within yourself will certainly be frightening. At other times what you find will be affirming, invigorating, even ecstasy-inducing. The self contains numerous highways and by-ways. There are main streets, lanes less travelled, and cul-de-sacs. To travel through these inner streets you need to understand your self. To achieve that you need a map that indicates possible destinations and provides directions for getting there.

All this is practical. This book has been written to offer a practical means for discovering who and why you are, what you are here to achieve in this incarnation, and how to transform your life in order to achieve it. The journey begins with a consideration of the nature of spiritual identity.