Why Being a Spiritual Dummy is a Good Thing

Posted On July 29, 2022

One of my favorite prayers is from Thomas Merton that starts with this phrase: “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me…. Nor do I really know myself.”

 

I like Merton’s honesty, because sometimes I wonder who I am. I wonder where I’m going or where God’s leading me. Like Merton, sometimes I wish I was simpler.

 

4 Key Questions

During one of those difficult weeks when I was stuck in my head trying to figure out the difference between meditation and contemplation and which path I should follow, I lifted my hands to the heavens, shook my head, and said to the God I hoped could hear me, “I need you to simplify my understanding of who you are and who I am. I need a spirituality for dummies.”

Half-joking, I Googled the phrase spirituality for dummies. To my surprise, I found there is a book by that name.

Sharon Janis, who calls herself a spiritual philosopher wrote a funny, street-level book that compiles tons of universal truths from all kinds of faith traditions.  As I read through the table of contents on the “Look Inside” section on Amazon, I fell in love with her practical spirituality.

I ordered the book and dove into it when it arrived. I hoped Janis could help me simplify my spiritual life—maybe even let me know where I’m going and who God and I are.

Here’s what Janis’ book, Spirituality for Dummies, is teaching me as I go back to the basics by pondering four simple questions she suggests we ask ourselves:

Who am I?
Who is God?
What’s my approach to life?
How do I connect with the Divine?

 

Who am I?

 

 

Janis captures our essence in one simple sentence: “You are a unique expression of pure spirit, revealing itself as you.”

Simple, eh? You and I are God’s tangible spirit of love expressing itself in human form.

And even though we have faults, we can discover ourselves—good parts and those parts we’re still working on—as an expression of our human and divine nature within the great universal spirit. In other words, if God is love, then we’re an expression of that love.

So, who are you? What’s your shorthand definition of who you are?

It’s an important question we need to occasionally ask ourselves. It’s one I wrote about in Chapter 2 of Finding Flow:What’s your name for God? What’s God’s name for you?

 

Who is God?

 

 



Who or what God is has been a question asked and answered throughout human history. Janis describes God with this simple phrase: God: Generous Omniscient Divinity.

I had to look up the definition of “omniscient” because the word’s above my paygrade.

According to Merriam-Webster, it means having infinite awareness, understanding, and insight; possessed of universal or complete knowledge. The Thesaurus provides these words: “all-knowing, all-seeing, wise, well-informed, sagacious.”

For me, God is the Source of all Being. The Creator is the other side of me who provides an open line of communication and is gently present in all my actions and thoughts—that is, when I open my heart to listen and allow the Divine Whisper to guide me.

Who or what is God to you?

What’s my approach to life?

 

 

 

Janis says there are two approaches to life: the material and the spiritual.

The material approach relies solely upon the intellect and the five senses—what we can see, hear, taste, touch, or smell. Someone who follows a material approach tries to think their way through the ups and downs of daily life from what they understand and perceive on one-dimensional, physical and mental level.

When I notice myself in the material approach, it feels like I’m wallowing in survival mode, trying to make sure my basic Maslow’s hierarchy of needs such as food, water, and shelter are met. I get stuck in my monkey-mind.

The spiritual approach adds another deeper dimension to our worldview. The spiritual perspective tries to see beyond the mind, outer appearances, and the five senses to connect with an inner, intuitive perspective that comes from the divine—something or someone larger than our human selves. Spiritual people look beyond the surface of things and try to see things through God’s eyes.

Janis says the spiritual approach contains “true wealth.” It gives us an added dose of wisdom beyond ourselves we can use to figure out life and make life-giving choices.

Which approach to life works best for you?

 

How do I connect with the Divine?

 

 

Each of us has a unique way of experiencing God. Like exercising our bodies to maintain good physical health, we care for our souls through regular spiritual practices like prayer, meditation, time in nature, sacred rituals, or contemplation.

The poet Rumi said, “There are a hundred thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

Our job is to find those spiritual practices that are life-giving for us, that deepen the relationship between our individual soul and the divine universal spirit.

Regular soul care opens our hearts to divine guidance and intuition beyond our rational minds.

 

What works for you?

 

Each of us needs to test-drive different spiritual practices to discover which ones work for us—which ones deepen our relationship with God as we understand and relate to the Divine Being.

There’s a smorgasbord of different spiritual practices on my website under the free resources tab. Download it by clicking here: Free resources.

Which spiritual practices are just right for you?

It’s okay to be a spiritual dummy

Janis says those folks willing to laugh and call themselves spiritual dummies are not putting themselves down. Rather, they realize that given the vast and profound nature of spirituality there is always more that can be learned about God and ourselves. They approach life with a beginner’s mind.

Janis writes, “There are spiritual dummies who know they are dummies, and spiritual dummies who don’t know they are dummies. Those who know they are dummies are the smart ones!”

 

I fell into mental quicksand when I overcomplicated my relationship with God. By pondering Merton’s words and admitting sometimes I don’t know who I am or who God is, or where the Creator is leading me, the Divine led me to simplify my relationship with him through the questions in Janis’ book.

Now I can admit with humor and humility, I’m a spiritual dummy. I’ll continue to ponder who I am, who God is,  and where the Divine is leading me. With God’s grace and an open heart, the answers become clearer day-by-day, bit-by-bit.

 

All I really know is this: the Divine is real and madly in love with all of us.

 

—brian j plachta
brianplachta.com

Do you need a jumpstart to connect with your Inner Self? With God? To quiet your noisy mind?
Take a look at this 3-Minute Video and see if Finding Flow is just what you need to get into the Divine Flow.

 

Click here: 3-Minute Finding Flow Video

Written by Brian J. Plachta

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