Naming Our Own Spiritual Condition

This past summer, I received a leading at the first gathering of Friendly Mystics that called for Friends to “name the spiritual condition of the world.” A seasoned Friend recommended that we start by first naming our own spiritual condition. So, at this year’s gathering, we will be attempting to do that. In this post, I’ll describe what I mean by spiritual condition then ask you to share some thoughts and experiences about your spiritual condition.

Prior to describing what I mean by “spiritual condition,” I first want to define the word spiritual. I believe this is important because the word spiritual has a number of meanings and people tend to use it without being clear about what they mean. Sometimes the word spiritual is used to refer to anything that is uplifting. Other times, it is used to refer to that which is unknowable or purely supernatural. Neither of these uses of the word refer to what I’m thinking of.

For me, Spirit is knowable. I feel it. I have been changed by it, and I see it at work in the world. Also, I believe that experiences of Spirit are important. They create and maintain the Power that invigorates lasting change in material reality. I define Spirit as the purposeful energy which emanates from God and creates the potential for God’s will to become manifest in earthly reality. Thus, to me, spiritual is that which refers to this aspect of Spirit.

I believe that every person has a spiritual body. (This is a body that we do not usually perceive but is present nonetheless.) At birth, everyone is born with the capacity for a spiritual body, with the growth and development of that body being dependent upon the conditions (i.e., physical, relational, socio-cultural, religious, etc.) surrounding the person during their formative years. Because of the limiting and/or hurtful nature of the conditions people live and grow up in, I believe that most (if not all) persons, particularly in the Western world, need to recover from the damaging effects of those conditions. While we are not precluded from participation in spiritual reality, our ability to co-create with God and assist Christ in His task of redemption, bringing the world back into attunement with God’s purposes, is dependent upon our spiritual state.

Some people describe spiritual condition in an either/or fashion. Either you are born again or not born again. Either you are saved or you are not saved. While these states are important, they are insufficient for this conversation. Rather than looking at whether our spiritual condition assures us of a particular fate after death, I would like to discuss the quality of our spiritual condition, its level of fitness, and how it helps us accomplish God’s work during our time on Earth. I believe that if we can assess and know our spiritual condition, we can become more fit.

In a subsequent post, I will discuss more about what I mean by spiritual condition, but first I’d like some help from you. What do you think spiritual condition means? How would you describe your spiritual fitness? Have you seen how your spiritual condition has improved over time and allowed you to receive or do more? Have you seen how your spiritual condition has limited your ability to follow your spiritual path or your ability to carry out those tasks that you’ve been given to complete?

Please share your thoughts, questions and comments. (You’ll need to scroll down past my bio to find the box for replies.)

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4 thoughts on “Naming Our Own Spiritual Condition

  1. To my mind the spiritual condition of the world is bankrupt. The first letter of John (by whomever) tells us “God is love.” The world is full of hate. The Abrahamic religions in particular each harbor groups devoted to a exclusivist understanding of their own religion, hateful and willing to use violence. Much of Europe and North America no longer adhere to Judaism, Christianity or Islam and are what I would call indifferent to the spiritual. Most Jews, Christians and Muslims are not full of hate but their complacency is no greater than that of the secular majority in Europe or the sizable minority in north America.

    The word “condition” for me takes its meaning from George Fox’s use of the word as in “There is one even Christ Jesus that can speak to thy condition.” One’s condition is where is found the seed, that of God. It is deep down (Pennington: “sink down to the seed”). Our society does not have any depth, and condition is a misnomer. We all live in appearances. We squander our birthright, God’s creation, out of greed. Maybe “greed” is the word to name our spiritual condition. Detachment is central for mystics (see Meister Eckhart, and the anonymous author of the “Cloud of Unknowing” in particular). The kingdom of God is within, or among, or rather both, but not out there in things regardless of how beautiful those things are; they are still the creation.

    I regret I will not be present this year but hope to join you in future years, and to read any proceeding or epistle that comes out of this years gathering.

  2. Hi folks. So, so sorry I couldn’t attend the second gathering. I have recently become aware of my mystic side in Quakerism, and have set about on a person, ministerial journey of mystical study. I would like to make this online gathering part of that journey. As an introduction, I’m a long time listener, first time poster…no, seriously, I’m a part-time Pastor of a small Quaker meeting in western Indiana, Hopewell Friends, and a full-time program coordinator for Department of Corrections in Indiana. I feel that I’m a Chaplain by calling, in that I enjoy assisting all folks of all faith traditions with their spiritual journey.

    Which is a great introduction to spitirual condition. God speaks into the universe and creates, and Jesus speaks to our spiritual condition. Spirituality, for me, is the tangible connection between the mortal and the extra-mortal. As a chaplain, I have seen the end of mortal life, and felt the mortal energy leave a person. My faith informs me that the spirit is not gone, just transformed. Spirit connects us to God and the eternities.

    Having said that, I’m not sure I can improve my spiritual condition, except by getting out of God’s way. If I can move aside my preconceived notions, judgmental attitudes, etc., and to borrow from Richard Rohr, the dualistic thinking of this world, then perhaps I can allow my spirit to reconnect more fully.

  3. Pingback: Naming for Spiritual Freedom and Greater Service | Quaker Mystics

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