How Spiritual Awareness Helps – A little spirit wisdom can make a huge difference
Notes on the Sunday address by Dr Francis Macnab, 9 October 2016.
By John Abbate.
As Dr Macnab says, spiritual awareness is not something “high on the list of desired qualities” in our society, not something one places on a CV when applying for a job.
What is spiritual awareness? Can we be in touch with a spiritual dimension to life, and the wisdom it promises, without religion? Are there ways to develop spiritual awareness? Are there skills we can learn?
Dr Macnab describes spiritual awareness in three aspects:
- Personal searching, the search for one’s fullest authenticity
- Interpersonal searching; the search for belonging in relationship with others
- The awareness of the world we inhabit; a world of literature, art and music—and the searching for one’s place in all of creation.
Some lines by Wordsworth capture something essential about our experience of spirit:
And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.
—Extracted from William Wordsworth, “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour. July 13, 1798”
Lessons from Kazantzakis
In his scholarly work on the writings of Nikos Kazantzakis, Howard Dossor highlights a view of life as a dazzling ascent, existing between the dark poles of before and after, birth and death. It is ”the daily unveiling of the new; the transformation of life into more life.”
Dr Macnab finds several lessons in this:
- A spiritual awareness helps us to see life and the world differently
- A spiritual awareness can lift us out of ourselves
- A spiritual awareness can connect us with the world of art and music, creativity and colour.
- A spiritual awareness connects us with an inner quietness that carries the possibility of grace and strength.
In our openness to a spiritual awareness, “we get that glimpse of something beyond the ordinary, beyond ourselves”, said Dr Macnab. “Call it what you like, it’s an awareness of something bigger, broader, deeper.”