What Sparks Our Spiritual Curiosity?
I believe in the power of practicing spiritual curiosity.
Quite a few of us accept whatever spiritual life we have picked up along the way. We may have learned something about spiritual life as children. Some of us just accept what “everyone knows” about spiritual life.
We often treat spiritual life the ways we treat other aspects of our lives. Some of us analyze as much information as we can, taking a rational approach. We work hard to find answers to our questions and think our way into spiritual life.
Other people experience spiritual life as more emotional than analytical. We may believe spiritual life should comfort us and make us feel better. Our spiritual life is like a warm and fuzzy blanket in which we wrap ourselves.
We often settle into spiritual life and expect it to protect us. Our understanding of spiritual life rests on what we believe. We find something we can trust and we depend on it.
It is a challenge for us to practice spiritual curiosity.
We approach spiritual life like something we learned in school. It is something we remember in the back of our minds. We know enough to be satisfied and not think about it anymore.
Spiritual life can be like a distant place we have not visited. We read about it once or twice and are relatively confident it is there. Our attention is focused closer to home. There is nothing which engages us about it, nothing which invites us to learn more.
Nothing about it seems to spark our spiritual curiosity.
I see spiritual curiosity differently. Practicing curiosity is more about asking questions than about finding solutions. Our curiosity and questions encourage us to continue exploring and discovering.
What Sparks Spiritual Curiosity in Me
There are many things I do not understand about spiritual life. My experience of spiritual life is it is, by definition, beyond my understanding.
Having questions is one of the ways I recognize the presence of healthy spiritual life.
When we become satisfied with explanations, when we believe we understand, we stop exploring. We convince ourselves we have a handle on things, everything is under control.
My practice of spiritual curiosity changed dramatically when I realized my answers were not working. With reflection and discernment, over time, I began to put my trust in questions.
Some people believe spiritual life is about solving problems and finding answers. We read and think, struggling to understand. People are convinced spiritual life will comfort them once they find the correct answers.
My own searching and struggling made me curious. It was difficult for me to understand how knowing a lot of information strengthened spiritual life in me. I began to wonder why I was working so hard to learn things.
In my experience, reflecting and listening feed spiritual life in me more than intellectual analysis. It is not that I stopped reading or learning, but what motivates me has changed.
My spiritual curiosity has moved from facts and information into deeper sacred truths.
I believe spiritual life is essentially a relationship. My questions and spiritual curiosity have been transformed.
Almost anything can spark my spiritual curiosity. Watching people walk on the sidewalk fills my mind with questions. Stars in the night sky, tall trees, other people, words on a page, a remembered song are all sparks.Watching a stranger drink coffee or eat a sandwich can ignite my spiritual curiosity. That curiosity can carry me for the rest of the day.
What sparks your spiritual curiosity?
Where Our Spiritual Curiosity Can Take Us
Some of us like to believe we are open to new ideas and new experiences. We like to think of ourselves as curious.
Many of the people I know are more curious about the tastes of new foods than they are spiritually curious.
We may not question what we learned about spiritual life as children. Whether we follow a specific religious teaching, or none, we do not ask many questions.
We do not really think much about spiritual life. Some of us are afraid to ask many real questions. We could be confused or intimidated. Quite a few of us are distracted or do not see how spiritual life affects us.
I even know people who think their lack of spiritual curiosity is a sign of their acceptance of others. A “live and let live” attitude means they never really need to explore for themselves.
Spiritual curiosity can be hard when anyone you could ask seems to have a vested interest in the answers. Some of the people who seem to have found answers are not especially open to questions.
Whatever our reasons, quite a few of us are not spiritually curious.
For me, being open and curious seems to be what spiritual life is all about. There are always more questions.
Our spiritual curiosity can take us far beyond where our thoughts can go. Spiritual life is about discovering and exploring, asking the questions which take us beyond our expectations.
Practicing Spiritual Curiosity
We cultivate our practice of spiritual curiosity by not allowing obstacles to stop us. Reflecting and listening strengthen our practice of spiritual curiosity.
Like our curiosity in other parts of our lives, spiritual curiosity encourages our creativity. We understand and experience life in new ways. Asking questions draws us off the standard path and helps us see things in new ways.
Spiritual life is not primarily about getting facts cataloged and categorized. We explore what sparks our curiosity and are drawn into the next step away from what we expected.
Spiritual curiosity draws us deeper, one question at a time.
My friend Brenda Hanley and I host a conversation on Twitter which focuses on a word to live by each Sunday. Please join us on Sunday, April 22 at 6:00 PM Pacific Time as we explore curiosity. We will be using the hashtag #WordsToLiveBy.
How spiritually curious are you today?
What sparks your spiritual curiosity this week?
[Image by Tommy Hemmert Olesen]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.