As we grow spiritually, we can sometimes get ahead of ourselves. We may think we’re leading a pristine spiritual life, regularly attending religious services, reading the latest spirituality best-sellers, engaging in a yoga or meditation practice. But we can sometimes forget the basics—the simple daily acts that can enrich our lives and the lives of those around us.
I was reminded of this when I picked up a book by someone I consider my spiritual mentor, Sir John Templeton. While best known as one of the greatest financial masterminds of our time, Templeton was also a spiritual seeker and teacher who took the lessons he learned throughout his life and turned them into several classic books, including The Worldwide Laws of Life and Wisdom from World Religions.
In Discovering the Laws of Life, Templeton laid out “200 basic laws” that are, in essence, rules to live by. They’re comprised of “universal principles present in every society and every religion” and each has the ring of truth. In rereading the book, I quickly realized that 5 of the first 6 laws Templeton mentions should be etched on our daily “to do” lists—and be an integral part of our own personal spiritual journey. Here they are with the author’s exact words in quotes:
Follow the Golden Rule. Treat others as you would like them to treat you. Maybe the most important rule in life.
Really listen to those who talk to you. Be an active listener, staying focused on the person speaking to you. Don’t just wait to talk. “When we truly show an interest in another person and really listen, without constantly referring to ourselves, we have begun a relationship that will only grow stronger over time.”
To be loved, love others. Like the sun, love is a source of limitless energy that “lies deep at the center of our being.” When we allow this energy to flow from us to others “our lives become brighter” and so do the lives of others. To get love, give love.
Give thanks and you’ll have more to be thankful for. Say a prayer of gratitude daily for all the good that is in your life. The late Huston Smith had an excellent daily prayer: “God you are so good to me.” When we have “an attitude of gratitude,” we draw even more goodness into our lives. “Praise the good and watch it multiply.”
Life gives back to us what we give to it. What we reflect out to the world is reflected back to us. So Templeton advises us to “reflect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness.” It also serves to let others know they can trust us.
I mentioned that I listed 5 of the first 6 laws Templeton wrote about. The one I left out isn’t too shabby either: You cannot be lonely if you help the lonely. Look for more “Back to Basics” columns, with wisdom from John Templeton, in the near future.