Some say Religion is the best thing to happen to man,some say it's the worst.In presenting this I’ll use the term ‘spirituality’ rather than the word ‘religious’. Religious to me (- I might be wrong!) limits one to believing in and reverence for a God. Spirituality, however, takes it a step further broadening one’s perspectives on God, religions (- and there’s many of them) and Mans spiritual connection with the Universe.
The first step in enhancing your spirituality is to minimize distractions; a clear-thinking head devoid of any worries or commitments. Most of the time these commitments are of a worldly nature; things we’re obsessed with, mostly material things, which take up our time.
“It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”.
A rich man, pastor, or Man of God, worried about the running costs of his private jet or the welfare of his vast business empire hardly has time to concentrate, fully, on serving God, let alone help others find the path. He would like to think he’s Gods chosen one but when materialism crawls into the picture it clouds our thoughts and sometimes takes over.
How many of us can walk away from it all? Giving up the mansions, cars, clothes and ostentatious lifestyle to follow our faith – very few if not none.
Like a millstone around our necks, materialism – which is the bane of our very existence – weighs us down. Without a doubt there are other things we do that impedes our spiritual development such as bed-hopping, gluttony, envy, pride amongst other things but materialism takes centre stage. Eliminate or control this and everything else will fall like dominoes.
It’s difficult to walk away from it all. But others have done it.
Countless people have turned to the priesthood vowing to live lives of chastity and poverty. Monks, Nuns and Holy Men have walked away from a world of materialism to devote their entire lives to the worship of God. But not everybody can follow in their footsteps giving up everything. Our purposes in life differ and while some are committed to a spiritual life others have to live in the real world where there is a certain social etiquette to follow; being seen to be successful, happy and prosperous. But we can enhance our spirituality by decreasing our vain dependency on materialism.
A simple life is what is called for, limiting ourselves to only the things we need, the basics, and not what we don’t need.
‘Keeping up with the Joneses’. You want to be seen to be better than your neighbour – bigger house, flashier car, more wealth and more success. In doing so our focus in life shifts from trying to be more spiritual to being more materialistic. ‘Give unto Caesar what is Caesars’. You can’t worship two Gods.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t strive for success, I’m saying there should be a balance. There is nothing wrong in being wealthy and successful. But at what point do you draw a line? Do you let it take over your life and let it dominate you or do you dominate it? Do you decide what you have is your good fortune and live a frugal life, giving away the excess or do you clamour for more?
The minute you start clamouring for more and more of what you really don’t need you begin to lose your spirituality and the path to Godliness will move further and further away from you.
You only need so much. Excess brings on worries and worries cloud your thinking.
Try and think less of the material things you don’t have and clamour to obtain – the things that aren’t necessities in life – in doing so your mind becomes clearer and more receptible to the spiritual side of your life. You can’t pray or meditate effectively if you’re thinking, all the time, about acquiring the latest fashion accessories or your jaunt to Dubai or showing off your vanity to the rest of the world or how you’re going to keep up with your neighbours. Having it all – success and wealth – does not necessarily equate to contentment or happiness.
Keep your life simple, live within your means and quit the mad race of ‘keeping up with the joneses’- it’s an empty pursuit of material things you can’t take with you when your time is up – your life will become fuller, more meaningful and more spiritual.
Learn to set time aside to meditate or pray. I call it ‘me-time’. Time when you can actually switch off and be on your own – in your room, out in a park, in a desert or by a body of water or in a temple or church. Time when there can be nothing to distract or interrupt you. I know we all lead busy lives full of , perhaps, noisy kids, demanding partners, social and work engagements but you CAN find some time to be own your own. Night time is the best time to meditate and pray when it’s all peaceful and quiet. I personally like to go for long walks at night, its peaceful with less noise and distraction making it easier to meditate(WARNING – Unless you live in a part of the world where it’s safe to go out walking at night I wouldn’t recommend it. If you go walkabout in Naija in the middle of the night you’ll be robbed and killed or chopped up and used for money-making spells by ritualists!)
A long time ago there was less crime, of all sorts, in the country when people lived within their means, when there wasn’t the mad rush for instant wealth, the need to procure private planes, yachts and million dollar watches. People were more spiritual and godly because the acquisition of vain materialistic items wasn’t high on their agendas. Whatever happened to living basic lives when we just had to put a roof above our heads and feed the family? Living basics lives, then, enabled people to tune into their spiritual side a lot more than we are doing today.
You can’t worship two gods. To enhance your spirituality sacrifice is required – not that much – just a little more of your time, a clear un-committed head and a strict control of materialism and distractions in your life.
By Tony Ogunlowo.