Spiritual Life Begins Within The Heart

Joan Chittister

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Awakin FeatureThe truth is that we spend our lives in the centrifuge of paradox. What seems certainly true on the one hand seems just as false on the other. Life is made up of incongruities: Life ends in death; what brings us joy will surely bring us an equal and equivalent amount of sorrow; perfection is a very imperfect concept; fidelities of every ilk promise support but also often end.

How can we account for these things? How can we deal with them? How can we find as much comfort in them as there is confusion? These are the queries that will not go away but which, the spiritual giants of every age knew, need to be faced if we are ever to rise above the agitation of them. There is a point in life when its paradoxes must be not only considered but laid to rest.

The great truth of early monastic spirituality, for instance, lies in the awareness that only when life is lived in the aura of the transcendent, in the discovery of the Spirit present to us in the commonplaces of life, where the paradoxes lie, can we possibly live life to its fullness, plumb life to its depths. [...]

To the average person whose life is exemplary most of all for its ordinariness—to people like you and me, for instance—it is what goes on inside of us that matters for the healthy life and real spirituality.

Clearly, the spiritual life begins within the heart of a person. And when the storms within recede, the world around us will still and stabilize as well. Or to put it another way, it was greed that broke Wall Street, not the lack of financial algorithms. Whatever it is that we harbor in the soul throughout the nights of our lives is what we will live out during the hours of the day.

This single-minded concentration on the essence and purpose of life, along with a focus on inner quietude and composure, makes for a life lived in white light and deep heat at the very core of the soul. Centering on the spirits within us, rather than being obsessed with the vicissitudes and petty imperfections of life gives the soul its stability, whatever the kinds or degrees of turbulence to be dealt with around it. [...]

It is the paradoxes of our own times that skulk within us, that confuse us, sap our energy, and, in the end, tax our strength for the dailiness of life. They call us to the depth of ourselves. They require us to see Life behind life. Confronting the paradoxes of life around us and in us, contemplating the meaning of them for ourselves, eventually and finally, leads to our giving place to the work of the Spirit in our own lives.

Sister Joan Chittister has been a nun since her teen years, is an advocate for justice, and authored more than 50 books. Excerpted from her book Between the Dark and the Daylight.

Seed questions for reflection: What do you make of the notion that spiritual life begins within our heart? Can you share an experience of a time you centered on the spirit within you instead of the vicissitudes of life? What helps you confront the paradox of life around you?

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11 Previous Reflections:

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    On Jul 9, 2019 our site wrote:
    I was suggested this blog by means of my bro. I am not sure whether or not this publish is written by means of him as no one else understand such precise about my problem. You’re wonderful! Thanks!

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    On Jul 5, 2019 candy crush wrote:
    I 100% agree with you.

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    On Jul 4, 2019 Judith Stone wrote:
    I don’t mean to be unkind, but why does my equanimityof heartmatter? It seems so all about me, not all about the interconnectedness if all of life, My focus is the commonwealth of creation, not my own spiritual development if others are suffering why should i have equanimity and peace. I find peace comes,by the grace of God and so does sorrow at suffering, so does restlessness. Rev. JudithStone

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    On Jun 30, 2019 Orin wrote:
    I have seen and been a part of the suffering of a number of animals while living my life and now this has caused me great sorrow. It took me many years to realize that the animals are from God,too and need to be treated with great love and not disposed of roughly. I have been gifted by God with the ability to see and talk with spirit beings from my childhood and have seen and talked with God several times. I was visited by God when eighteen and was taken to heaven by Jesus and got to visit with God there and while there God made me into Himself so I was able to understand somethings about God and life that most others have not been able to do. Jesus told me that life was a terrible gift and would not have been given to us if it were not a gift. But it is a terrible gift and Jesus said'" but it doesn't last so very long and then you're with me." Jesus also said that because we have to go through it , He would go through it ,too and so He became a man . Now I suffer... [View Full Comment] I have seen and been a part of the suffering of a number of animals while living my life and now this has caused me great sorrow. It took me many years to realize that the animals are from God,too and need to be treated with great love and not disposed of roughly. I have been gifted by God with the ability to see and talk with spirit beings from my childhood and have seen and talked with God several times. I was visited by God when eighteen and was taken to heaven by Jesus and got to visit with God there and while there God made me into Himself so I was able to understand somethings about God and life that most others have not been able to do. Jesus told me that life was a terrible gift and would not have been given to us if it were not a gift. But it is a terrible gift and Jesus said'" but it doesn't last so very long and then you're with me." Jesus also said that because we have to go through it , He would go through it ,too and so He became a man . Now I suffer for my lack of empathy and understanding and sometimes for just the sad way things turned out. I am seventy now and look forward to seeing God again and all my beautiful dogs and cats again and I want to tell them I am so sorry that I wasn't a better master. I have left my physical body and traveled as a spirit through the universe and with God it was so wonderful. I didn't die but God came and took me. I find that staying away from stores and buying of things helps a lot to realize what is important. I have seen a number of spirits of people who have died and who are so sad about the way they lived their lives. They are so unhappy and disgusted with themselves and some just run and say over and over," what can I buy, what can I buy. They are still bound to this earth an cannot leave because of the way they lived. Now is the time we can prevent that from happening. I pray all day long and even at night when I wake I think of God. I pray with every breath that I take.



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    On Jun 28, 2019 Isshu wrote:
    nice

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    On Jun 28, 2019 Peter Spurrier wrote:
    Paradoxically, the best hope we have of feeling better is to forget about trying to control how we feel and instead to concentrate on doing things which require courage and discipline based on our values and the life we would like to lead (is this spirituality?). This would be despite how we feel and may initially result in feeling worse because it might mean letting go of those behaviours designed to keep us feeling comfortable and safe. The first step is awareness or mindfulness.

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    On Jun 26, 2019 Marc wrote:
    this.

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    On Jun 26, 2019 SHRI VADALKAR wrote:
    EVERYTHING WE SEE IN THIS WORLD INCLUDING THIS WORLD IS LIKE A DREAM OR AN ILLUSION. THIS HAS GOT TO END! WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT!!ONLY WHEN WE GO BEYOND, I GUESS BY DEEP MEDITATION, BY REDUCING OUR EGO AND BY REALIZING WHO IS REALLY IN CHARGE, WE CAN BEGIN OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE AND PROGRESS IN IT

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    On Jun 26, 2019 naz wrote:
    The spirit is who we are truly, which travel the stages of life, and death is the end of a stage of life in this universe. Having a baseline for what is define as truth will bring many to be at peace.

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    On Jun 24, 2019 David Doane wrote:
    The opposite of a truth is another truth. Death is the opposite of birth, not of life. Everything ends. We don't have to confront paradox -- we can deal with paradox by realizing that life is full of paradox and accepting paradox, which puts us at rest with paradox rather than put paradox to rest. The spiritual life begins within in that the spirit is our source and we are expressions of the spirit. The spirit is our essence and our Life behind life. The material world and its vicissitudes are impermanent. For me, this realization and living centered on the spirit help me live life fully.

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    On Jun 21, 2019 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    Sister Joan Chittister'swords are deeply thought provoking to me. To me the spiritual life is very important. As a human being I experience and display paradoxes in my life and see paradoxes around me.When I lose my centering and quietude, I get trapped by the vicissitudes of life. The flow of spirituality in my heart becomes thin and weak.By paying attention to what is happening within me and by creating centering and calmness in me the flow of spirituality regains its strength and purity and helps my paradoxes lay in rest transcending the paradoxes. Last Saturday I was invited to a dinner meeting of my good old friends.Two of my dear friends approached me to get me input about an important issue that was bothering them. Their two dear friends did not believe in the existence of God. Their non-atheistic stance bothered them.This is a good example of how we get caught up in our oppositional stances and our stream of love flowing in our heart gets dried in the sand of arguments, Th... [View Full Comment] Sister Joan Chittister'swords are deeply thought provoking to me. To me the spiritual life is very important. As a human being I experience and display paradoxes in my life and see paradoxes around me.When I lose my centering and quietude, I get trapped by the vicissitudes of life. The flow of spirituality in my heart becomes thin and weak.By paying attention to what is happening within me and by creating centering and calmness in me the flow of spirituality regains its strength and purity and helps my paradoxes lay in rest transcending the paradoxes.

    Last Saturday I was invited to a dinner meeting of my good old friends.Two of my dear friends approached me to get me input about an important issue that was bothering them. Their two dear friends did not believe in the existence of God. Their non-atheistic stance bothered them.This is a good example of how we get caught up in our oppositional stances and our stream of love flowing in our heart gets dried in the sand of arguments, They felt bad about the irritation and agitationthey were feeling in their heart. We found a quiet place to create centering, quietude and non-judgemental awareness.This
    process helped their heart flowing with loving kindness.

    The last paragraph of the writing is very illuminating." The single-
    minded concentration on the essence and purpose of life, along with a focus on inner quietude and composure, makes for a life lived in white
    light and deep heat of the very core of the soul."
    Jagdish P Dave









































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