Have you ever wondered about the difference between a spiritually grounded life versus a carnal (worldly) focused life? If you think of these two divergent response paths, what thoughts jump to mind? What mental pictures do you envision? Are they scenes of blended activity? Or do they appear to be at odds with each other?
A first thought surrounding the spiritual for many people is some form of peace or calm. Images of a spiritually grounded life often produce mental pictures of a serene or meditative lifestyle practitioner. It is interesting that with this mental picture in mind many don’t or won’t venture there. Those who equate spirituality with religion often imagine parochial purposed attachments filled with subservient ecumenical or fellowship obligations. It is no wonder that many who envision this path or who have traveled it, turn away and want nothing to do with it. In reality it is not hard to distinguish the spiritual from the religious, for one encompasses a connection between the individual and his/her belief enigma, while the other relies upon a man or men as intermediary conduits. The first has no intent except for peace and calm. The second has nothing except self-serving control and manipulation at its core.
By contrast a carnal focused, or world-view lifestyle is often thought of as nonstop on-the-go event seeking interactions (“fun” to some, demands to others). Those who are busy with work or family commitments , group involvements, participation in many or varied activities coupled with never ending pursuits of entertainment for relief, describes an assortment of time filling or time consuming choices. It is easy to see how these two lifestyles, the spiritual versus the carnal might appear to differ well beyond a point of mutual exclusivity.
Additional aspects of these contrasting investitures of time and energy can be realized by their effects on relationships. The spiritual person usually embraces a knowledge of God’s unconditional care and nurturing desire for them as individuals. This faith filled understanding is complimented by a respect for the core value that exists between God and mankind. As the spiritual bond between God and the individual (wo)man strengthens, the awareness of ‘self’ diminishes as one begins to forego the incessant focus of egotism and indulgence.
In either case, spiritual or world-view, with risk comes reward. Reward is most often perceived as a benefit gained, or loss abated. It’s been said, “The greater the risk, the greater the reward.” This adroit concept is typically embraced wholeheartedly as true by those wiling the world’s ways. The stronger one’s belief in the power of money and its accumulated possessions the more effectual its influence to besmirch the spiritual. Carnal desires honed and status levels achieved whereby one may prove his or her comparative worth, while validating a presence or contribution can become prime motivators in furtherance to grasp tight the world’s rewards, often however at the expense of balance. Competition produces the conquering of adversaries, a prime motivation since the beginning of mankind which has often offered either love or envy, or both as great rewards for the risk taker.
Some individuals find winning to be so compellingly and satisfying they can grow to thrive on the risk or gamble. This adrenaline rush becomes elevated to intense levels even in the face of potential or actualized loss. It is often the thrill of possible conquest which can drive one to risk beyond calculated measure. In the beginning risk is part of the process during the quest of winning. Eventually however, win or lose, it is the risk itself that for many becomes the “juice”. The chance of losing can become inconsequential compared to the appeal of the perceived risk taken.
At a sustained level, win or lose, a risk taker void of spirit may begin to ignore subsequent behavior consequences and outcomes of repeated downfalls. Winning or losing can become irrelevant as the cycles of adrenaline rushes ensue. Cascading spirals of defeat may take hold drafting the individual to experience emotions of unworthiness as doubts creep into the psyche. The culmination of this downward slide may lead to aberrant behaviors ending in abuses of self, or others. At this low point one may turn to a search for spiritual cognition, (or not).
Disregard for mental or physical health while burning the candle at both ends can be endured only so long. Those leading a life of imminent destruction eventually burn out or stumble. Age and relationship issues are often undeniable factors taking a toll and leading to ruinous outcomes. A balance brought about by spiritual grounding has the capability to help keep in check the spiraling effects described, but it can be an arduous road.
The world’s path promotes and reinforces reminders to the individual a litany of one’s insecurities at every opportunity. For the carnally disposed these are often prompted to be placated apparently only through the accumulation of possessions, acceptance by peers, or recognition and elevation in the eyes of superiors or the general public. This may invariably put pressure on the individual to be drawn to situations where such corporeal core values are consistently fed and fulfilled in spite of risks or detrimental outcomes.
There are many who view a spiritual lifestyle as simply boring. For the spiritually grounded this scene of boredom is a disguise, for balance. Balance which incorporates the humanism to participate in life, yet still have an active regard for a burgeoning spiritual connection. Within a spiritually grounded relationship ramifications go beyond recorded wins or losses. A realization of actions and consequences colored by spiritual intervention can lead to imperative forethought. Mature spiritual believers often find ‘loss’ has its own reward, for it is through loss that risk can be illuminated to have been a fool hearty undertaking not in one’s best interest. As such, loss may also be viewed as a blessing for it provides opportunities for future avoidance from similar past or new costly endeavors.
By our very nature we live a corrupted state of being. It is also in our nature to be looking for ways of embellishing or advancing our lives and lifestyles. The length and breadth of corruption permeates every nook and cranny of existence. Aspects of every one of mankind’s systems have become permanently stained with corruption, for that is the way of the world. Is this a new phenomenon of our time? By no means. Mankind has lived corrupted since its beginning. Today however, when more people fight each other instead of fighting for survival and more people possess more material goods and have access to a world of comparative information, no excessive level of grandiose ascension seems to be enough.
Our individual choice is one of lemming participation or, turn to a different course. This is easier said than done for are we not only participants in and victims of our socialization, our insatiable desires for immediate gratification without acknowledgment of consequence is commonplace and most often met by an acceptable bending or breaking of all moral and ethical rules. We acknowledge aberrations of law, code and decency all around us, and we are incensed. Yet we are conditioned to be ever on the prowl for an advantage, closely shadowed by an attitudinal inclination of “what’s in it for me?” When a decision appears to hold benefits for us and our perceived good or to our advantage, clarity to negative consequences is usually less than piqued.
We each must decide with every interaction what response will we choose and how we will live with the consequences thereof. This is the difficult stage upon which the essential struggles of life play out. As we transitioned from the needs of tribal and communal living for our survival to all out competition for consumption our focus on self has been refined and honed to fit choices we believe best for us in lieu of the costs or harm to others. As we soon discover, what is in our best interest, consistently isn’t. Our self-centered indulgence is the taproot of our problems. This is the single commonality at the heart of our carnal and worldly lifestyle choices.
Those desiring or choosing a spiritual guided inner compass must first come to grips with its reality to embrace, accept, and then to make changes. It is this desire to act upon a newness of self that predicates the pivotal difference in our journey as we prepare to move forward renewed instead of being mired in a continual confluence of issues and life relationship struggles. Our decisions become choices between the known, and the unknown. Between the relative positive or negative consequences. And yet deep within each of us exists a spark of recognition that we innately understand this causational relationship.
By our very existence we each possess a spiritual ‘pilot light’ burning within our soul. Somewhere along life’s journey, for some that light is extinguished. For some it burns, for many it flickers only to return to a dormant state. For a few, spirituality takes hold and the flame roars to life illuminating a new way of understanding, a new way of living and a renewed way of responding. Many guided by the resourcefulness of the spirit learn a new balance in the risk-reward equation. One which relies on faith filled confidence and trust.
There are vast numbers of people who are observing extensively repeated media coverage of a celebrated few and their bauble lifestyles. Most of these people are busy dealing with their daily activities perhaps with daydreams of a ‘cast to the winds’ lifestyle that the wealthy seem to enjoy endlessly.
We live in the world. As such we are exposed to the world’s ways and its material laden desires. It is only natural our goals and accomplishments tend to be measured by the world’s rewards. The trappings of fast lane living may entice, but within its pompous illusions comes risk, here and hereafter. Spiritual presence allows girded balance which promotes longevity of more peaceful and calm living.
Is there a difference between spiritual living and carnal living? Definitely!
Is one boring and the other thrilling? Perhaps but realize, each of us hears the sirens’ call as to which life path holds our reward, and at what risk.
In the Hawaiian language, "Mana'o" (ma na o) is the word used to describe 'thoughts, ideas, and opinions'.
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