30 Spiritual Practices
Religious Experience and Spiritual Transformation
Perhaps the variety of religious or spiritual experience that may lead to a meaningful life (to something higher and better, to personal transformation) can be illustrated in the kinds of practices that often are used by four types of religion. These four types are devotional (the most common), actional (a path of action, doing, performing ritual), cognitional (scholarly, theological, rational), and mystical (often called via negativa, a path that uses meditation and silence to experience a oneness with life, consciousness, the divine).
These spiritual practices are stated generally for all religious or spiritual traditions. It is too early to express them publically in Hawaiian. In our tradition words have many spiritual levels of meaning and power. They are to be spoken and used properly--and accurately.
1. Practice something that will help you transcend the ordinary. (Ignorance and laziness are not spiritual practices.)
Strengthening and Expanding the Feeling/Emotional Function and using it to transcend self-limitations
2. Listen to loving stories and words; speak words of love and healing to others.
3. Fight my own negative emotions by learning to love yourself and others. Love others more and judge them less. Know what is personally and collectively evil and dark; fight the dark with light, beauty, truth. (Explore past hurts, angers, humiliations, desires. Forgive.)
4. Worship with gratitude for what live has given you and pray for strength to overcome life’s injustices and evils.
5. Practice physical and emotional self-healing with special attention to proper diet, sexual relationships, stress management, and physical exercise.
6. Strengthen healing emotions of compassion, empathy, joy, and ecstasy.
7. Find ways to express gratitude by giving back to life in acknowledgment of all that has been received. Experience grace and love. Experience God and God’s love.
Actional Practices Strengthening and Expanding the Physical/Sensate Function and using it to transcend self- limitations
8. Build a strong and healthy body and mind with wise habits that you can practice regularly (rituals of worship, sacred dance, yoga, tai chi, etc.).
9. Conquer the fear of physical pain and death so that your body and mind are courageous and pure.
10. Ingest only life-expanding food. (Limit and/or cease drugs, alcohol, junk foods, etc.--substances that take more energy than they give.)
11. Exercise to support physical health and to produce an energy level that will facilitate spiritual expansion. Use that energy to work in honorable and life-affirming ways. Recognize the flow of energy; learn its processes and its appropriate uses. Become an agent of healing self and others.
Cognitional Practices Strengthening and Expanding the Thinking Function and using it to transcend self-limitations
12. Question everything that limits personal and community integrity and growth.
13. Accept only what is personally experienced; yet remain open to others' experiences.
14. Cultivate an open, accepting and affirming mind. (Be humble, especially in the presence of wisdom.)
15. Fight pretense in myself and others. (But also confront pretense with compassion.)
16. Fight injustice, evil, manipulation, exploitation of all kinds with reason and an educated and disciplined mind. (Avoid self righteousness and conceit; this is about principles not personalities.)
17. Seek knowledge of self and what transcends both the personal and collective, the historical and cultural. Seek and know the Higher Self. See how far reason can take you on your spiritual journey.
Strengthening and Expanding the Intuitive Function and using it to transcend self-limitations
18. Practice one of the many forms of meditation. Find a meditation master and be disciplined.
19. Practice intuitive expansion of mind and spirit.
20. Explore the unconscious through dream work, personal journals, counseling, personal myth exploration, past life regression--whatever practices that help your integrity and growth, both intuitively and integrally.
21. Expand mind beyond mind; increase the range and scope of ordinary mind.
22. Explore other dimensions than three dimensional space; expand experientially in time, causality, and consciousness.
23. Explore imagination, energize creativity, join with creation's work.
24. Surround myself in light; explore the vibratory nature of being; learn to raise the vibrational level of each being to its highest level, to its fullest potential.
25. Accept everything as one--one energy, one quantum field, one universe, one human race, complete oneness of life, a unified life force. Know the One.
Integral Practices Strengthening and Expanding the Integrated Self and using all four functions (paths, types) appropriately to transcend self-limitations
26. Reverence life; experience grace and compassion; become an instrument of grace. (This practice begins in Devotion.)
27. Realize oneness and the interconnectedness of all being; merge with the One. (This practice begins in Mysticism.)
28. Study, understand and experience excellence, justice, equality, truth, love--applying them personally and collectively. (This practice begins in Cognition.)
29. Live in the ecstatic realm of full embodiment--in sensual, life-affirming healthiness. (This practice begins in the Action.)
30. Center appropriately in each of the four ways (feeling, intuiting, thinking, sensing) at the appropriate times and places--and become an integral human being.
And as Joseph Campbell used to say: “Follow your bliss.”
retired Historian of Religions