Most people think of everyday problems as distractions from everyday life. The truth is that everyday problems are actually the best means for our spiritual development. By attracting the help and guidance of spiritual forces and using it to solve those everyday problems, you will improve your material and spiritual lives at the same time.
To establish the best possible approach, we can draw on the discoveries of modern psychology. As the main findings of psychology have permeated the thinking of our society, we all have a sufficient background to become our own spiritual psychologists. Psychology grows out of and refines sound common sense. Its more careful approach helps us identify the additional beneficial effects that spiritual forces’ add to our well-planned actions with greater precision that intuition alone.
We will need to start by establishing the right framework, however, for we are currently in the same state in our understanding of spirituality that psychology was over 100 years ago. Before the late 1800s, no one had succeeded in studying the mind scientifically, despite the remarkable success of scientific study in other fields. Our thoughts, emotions, and behavior seemed too subjective to be studied by the rigorous new standards of the scientific method and its experimental approach.
Sigmund Freud, for example, was convinced that if people couldn’t understand their mental world that they would be because the mind functioned in ways that followed rules. If he didn’t currently know those rules, he was convinced they could be discovered by taking a rational approach. He gathered together the elements of human thought that seemed incomprehensible and called them the unconscious, which science continues to study today in ever more refined ways. Each step forward resulted in better ways of understanding the human mind and solving everyday problems. Today, a reliable body of objective knowledge helps us understand our emotions, improve our relationships, solve otherwise perplexing problems, and fulfill our own unique potentials. Popular books and magazines take the latest research and boil it down into simple, practical steps that we can take to build greater self-esteem, make more money or have a better sex.
To get started we need to assert that we can understand spiritually rationally. If we don’t today, others will in the future. The proof will be that each step forward that we take, however, will bring with it some tangible benefit to make our efforts worthwhile. We can then set up our own experiments to prove whether or not this is true, starting in situations where we would benefit most from even a little bit of spiritual help. You might choose a purely material or psychological problem that has resisted your efforts to change it. Make your best effort once again to solve it but this time add to it whatever you think might connect you to the spiritual dimension and elicit its help, for example praying for divine assistance. Any different results will be likely attributable to the spiritual effects that your connection elicited. And to the extent that your problem had been resistant to change before, you will see it as very likely-even if no one else does-that any positive changes that you find will be most likely caused by spiritual forces. By applying this experimental approach in a number of different situations in your own life over a period of time, you will gather evidence that I believe will give you more and more confidence in your results.
So choose an area of your life-whether it be an interpersonal problem, work problem or trouble with fears or anger. Approach it in the way that psychology found gives the best results but has failed in the past. Then add to it the element that you consider makes something spiritual and observe whether or not there are any different effects. Don’t expect miracles and try to refine the spiritual element that you add to a situation based on the feedback you get to make the results you get more and more consistent.
It is an approach that is so simple and straightforward as this, why haven’t we already done it? I believe that it’s because people have not approached spirituality in a systematic enough way. We have been bound by the belief that spiritual forces cannot be understood and therefore haven’t made the effort to understand them. We were content with an intuitive and emotional engagement of spiritual forces. We thought to understand spirituality by quickly attaching ourselves to one or another theory without understanding our own experiences enough first. We hadn’t grasped that each of our experiences is a bit of data that can only be understood by appreciating the limits of what it shows and combining our own data with that of others. By using the tools of psychology and those of the Internet to pool our little bits of knowledge, however, advances are possible.
Once we learn how to psychology and spirituality work together, our approach to spirituality will undergo a radical shift. We may still enjoy the rituals of our tradition but we will no longer be bound to them for we will see how much more is to be gained both materially and spiritually by practicing spirituality in everyday life-the original system created for our natural spiritual development. We can feel whole and complete in the deepest levels of our being while excited by the prospect of learning more and more.