26 June 2018

Regaining My Spiritual Footing ~ Carl Boudreau ~ 25 June 2018

I believe that we know people who are exclusively one or the other ~ Carl Boudreau terms the states as "instrumentality" and "devotionality". Balance is key ~ one without the other sometimes results in either spiritual myopia or spiritual arrogance.

Source: Carl Boudreau

In recent years and months, I have been re-examining my spirituality in response to a strongly felt need. During this reconsideration I came to understand: 1. my spirituality is my greatest asset. But 2. my spirituality needed extensive ‘renovations.’
I came to see spirituality in terms of instrumentality and devotionality. The relationship between the two forms of spirituality seems to me to be one of balance, or emphasis.
It became apparent that, in practice, instrumental and devotional spirituality blend into each other. Both play a role in our spiritual life. It is a matter of balance.

Finding a Spiritual Means to an End

I came to understand the difference between instrumental and devotional spirituality in terms of self-empowerment. With instrumental spirituality, self-empowerment is about finding a means to an end. 
 
To achieve a particular goal, one recites this chant, prays a given prayer, uses a given crystal, or, works with a particular energy center, etc. To achieve a given goal, one performs a certain ceremony or ritual. To reduce stress, one meditates a certain way. And so on and so forth. 
 
Instrumental spirituality can also include a search for knowledge. Some esoteric books, for example, contain detailed, knowledge about the nature and origin of the universe, the history of Earth and the origins, nature and destiny of the human race, and a great deal more. 
 
One might also, for example, try to pinpoint the timing of world ages and study long-vanished civilizations, like Atlantis and Lemuria. One might study the nature of supernatural beings like nature spirits, angels, demigods and so-called ascended masters, among others. 
 
One might also study various forms of divination, like tarot, palmistry, crystal gazing, or astrology. One might also study various kinds of subtle energy. One might look into the human energy bodies and higher states of consciousness. One might explore the complex relationship between God and the universe and God and human beings. Or one might find ways to develop intuitive, or psychic, abilities. 
 
Instrumental spirituality, then, seems to be about self-empowerment through the study of essentially esoteric knowledge. The knowledge in question very often claims to be of once secret and of supernatural origins. 
 
The pursuit of the kinds of knowledge described above is typically carried out under color of spirituality. The needs it addresses are thought of in spiritual terms. It is also understood and discussed in spiritual terms - in spiritual tones - somehow contributing to one's spiritual life.

Not My Will but Thine Be Done

Devotional spirituality, involves a very different approach to self- empowerment. In devotional spirituality, empowerment is achieved through devotion, humility, and surrender to God, to the Divine. 
 
Those practicing devotional spirituality depend directly on God’s unconditional love and infinite wisdom and compassion. Their life is guided by His infinite Wisdom and Mercy. It is thought to unfold according to his infinite wisdom and mercy.
 
Instrumental spirituality is about finding an endless series of means to ends, or the achievement of purposes. Devotional spirituality, by contrast, offers a single means that contributes to the fulfillment of all ends.

My Own Story

I began life as a devout member of a major Christian denomination. My spirituality was essentially devotional in nature. For the kinds of reasons teenagers have for such things, I abandoned my childhood spirituality. 
 
The materialistic, technological trends of our time carried me away from devotional spirituality. A belief in Divine intervention and supernatural beings, like Angels, a belief in the power of prayer, and supernatural phenomena, including miracles, is a key element of devotional spirituality. And our materialistic, technological culture works strongly against belief in such phenomena.
 
At the same time, dominant materialistic and technological trends pushed me hard in the direction of instrumental spirituality. Instrumental spirituality emphasized the use of essentially material things, like crystals and various kinds of healing tools. 
 
In this and other ways, instrumental spirituality more nearly resembles material science and technology, at least superficially, and better suits the modern temperament. It was more ‘humanistic.’ Devotional forms of spirituality seemed old fashioned and superstitious by contrast.
 
Rejection of my youthful spirituality did, however, leave a vacuum in my life. I quickly set about trying to fill this vacuum with instrumental forms of spirituality. This youthful move away from devotional spirituality in favor of instrumental spirituality, eventually led to my involvement with astrology. 
 
In the end, all but faint traces of devotional spirituality vanished from my life. For many years, my so-called spiritual life was all about crystals, astrology, esoteric knowledge, auras, higher states of consciousness and ascended masters. God had little or nothing to do with my spirituality anymore. 
 
Looking back, I can see there was a serious spiritual imbalance. In retrospect, I don't believe that my interest in various forms of spirituality ever filled the vacuum or ever could have.
 
Like many of my readers, in recent years, I have been experiencing a dramatic spiritual ‘shift’. One might even call it a spiritual ‘crisis’. My spirituality underwent a radical change. It has been by far the greatest spiritual change of my adult life. It was time to start restoring balance to my spiritual life.
 
At a certain point, the instrumental forms spirituality I had adopted stopped working for me altogether. In stages, I returned to the devotional spirituality of my earliest years. Several things happened at once. Each in its way accelerated my return to devotional spirituality.
 
Astrology had long played the dominant role in my pursuit of instrumental spirituality. And the limitations of astrology became increasingly apparent. I discussed this at length in a recent post
 
The energetic conditions have been overwhelming for several years. I tried to document these consistently baffling and challenging developments thorough my astrological work. As I have explained, however, despite my best and most sincere efforts, I could not make astrology explain what was going on or tell us what was likely to happen next.
 
Neither did any other form of instrumental spirituality. Neither crystals nor Tarot nor oracle cards, neither books nor New Age videos and blog posts, - none of these things really provided sufficiently clear understanding or empowerment in the face of prevailing energies. One searched in vain for spiritual guidance and support. 
 
I know that others who practice the instrumental ‘modalities’ at issue responded to these conditions in various ways. Many continued to search for answers as before. As for myself, as I said in a previous piece, I pushed the limits of astrology as far as I could as long as I could. The harder I tried, the more I felt the need for something else.
 
I began to seriously consider ways to move beyond astrology. Indeed, I decided to move beyond instrumental spirituality generally. I concluded that astrology, esoteric books, healing tools, crystals and divination generally would never provide the answers I needed. They would never fill the needI was feeling.
 
It was time for a choice. I had been exploring instrumental modes of spirituality for several decades and I felt had had enough experience to make a choice. 
 
However, I know I can’t speak for everyone. I am speaking only for myself. And I felt a strong desire to explain myself more fully to those who have been following my work.

The Alternative

When I concluded that instrumental spiritual resources taken altogether could provide neither the spiritual understanding nor the spiritual need. I turned my attention to what I have called devotional spirituality. 
 
As I said, I think the best way to understand the difference between instrumental and devotional spirituality is probably with respect to the issue of self-empowerment. Where devotional spirituality is concerned, the path to self-empowerment contrasts sharply with instrumental spirituality. 
 
Devotional spirituality provides empowerment through devotion to - through surrender to and trust in - God - through faith in the Divine. Devotional spirituality, that is, asks us to rely on God’s profound, unfailing commitment to supporting individuals spiritually and otherwise.
 
Devotional spirituality assumes that God is infinitely loving and compassionate. It assumes that we are bound eternally in a covenant with God. This relationship allows us access to the unconditional, love, boundless compassion and infinite wisdom of God through the Holy Spirit, or sure analogous source. Devotional spirituality asks us to trust in this covenant. The result is a kind of Divine synchronicity in which the events of our lives fall neatly into place like a row of dominoes. 
 
Those who practice devotional forms of spirituality believe that God supports and guides us in all situations. God, in partnership with human beings, coordinates worldly affairs. This Divine intervention is often understood to extend even to the affairs of those with no spiritual practice to speak of.
 
The advice concepts are guiding themes in Christianity and numerous other religions. They are also recurrent themes in contemporary spiritual literature, in the literature on near death experiences, or NDEs for example. 
 
In fact, most of the books I have read on NDEs are written by devoted Christians. Usually, an NDE strengthens a person's commitment to spirituality generally and a devotional forms of spirituality in particular. 
 
I would refer you to the work of well-known past life experiencers like Mary Neal, Eben Alexander, and Betty Eadie. (I have linked to the first of the several books written by each author.) Generally speaking, each of these near death experiencers expresses an intense devotional spirituality.
 
The teachings of A Course in Miracles, for to take a prominent example, are strongly devotional. Students of A Course in Miracles are expected to live in close and constant rapport with God through the Holy Spirit. 
 
Through the Holy Spirit they draw on God’s unconditional love, infinite wisdom, and mercy, moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day. Those interested in A Course in Miracles might begin with Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

Summarizing

Very early on in my personal spiritual crisis, I began to feel a need for exactly the kind of relationship with God typical of devotional spirituality. Crystals, meditation and Astrology lost all appeal for me. I quickly gravitated back to the devotional faith of my childhood.
As I wrote above, I began life steeped in devotional spirituality. I was born into a major Christian denomination and grew up with a deep, seemingly innate and unquestioning devotion to Christ.
My devotion was deep enough to override all doubts and ambiguities. The Devotional spiritual impulse, so strong in my youth had apparently remained strong, ready to re-emerge in my hour of Spiritual need.

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