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Spirituality Essay:

Our Capacity to Grow and Change    ( March 2005 )

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I've been thinking about the implications of the first of the three UU "Qualities of a Spiritual Life" (Being active seekers of truth; Increasing our ability to give and receive love; Being of service to the world), and I'd like to offer some thoughts on what it - our being active seekers of truth - implies.

Reflect for a minute: how have your beliefs changed in, say, the past 5, 10, 20 years? What differences in what you think is true, how the world works, what life is all about have occurred? Include changes in your values about what you think is important in your life - how you want to lead your life differently now versus before. Can you see any major differences?

Hopefully yes. You might try some hypothetical specific questions (these, for example, if you like) to see how your thinking has changed to measure how you're different, how you've grown: what does God mean to you; what are the causes of and cures for poverty; is there life after death; how much control of one's life do we have . . . versus how much is random; why is art important; what are the differences between male and female; what is your "purpose' on this earth. Any shifts??

To the degree that we're "active seekers of truth", I believe our dynamic minds are always searching out and seeking exposure to a wide variety of input that can't help but shift our usual thinking patterns and core belief systems and open new doorways to a rich, growing, more meaningful life.

It's human nature, especially as we get older, to want life's questions "settled" . . . and wind up only associating with people, reading books, etc. that tend to reinforce what we already know and believe.

One of our UU tenets is that there are "many spiritual truths and paths". I kind of envy a friend who was raised a Christian, became a hedonist in his 20's, then a hippie Buddhist, and is now a humanist agnostic (can you think of any other religion besides ours that would accept and celebrate all those beliefs as legitimate?).

And while we don't want to flip-flop through life, moved by whatever strong winds or personalities we encounter, we do want to pro-actively cultivate open-mindedness and exposure to different thoughts, people, and value systems, so that our beliefs -- and therefore our lives! - can continue to evolve and grow, dynamically . . . helping us in our never-ending search for a never-final: "This, I believe."

This is one in a series of essays on spirituality by Rick Childs, lay leader of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast. You may want to:
Read more Spirituality Essays
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