Attitudes necessary for Spiritual Growth.
An attitude is the feeling or disposition towards experiences or stimuli, or according to one dictionary of psychology, a condition of readiness for a certain type of activity. For the most part people do not realise that attitudes are learned, arising as a result of experiences and how they are interpreted. We tend to think we have no control over our attidudes but this is not so. Attitudes are subject to change based on new experiences and new ways of interpreting experience. Attitudes are also learned by imitation and the attitudes learned in mainstream capitalist society are not friendly towards spritual development.
In order to develop spiritually, to become able to inquire into our own natures we need to develop certain attitudes. These are mental attitudes towards ourselves and our life in general.
These attitudes need to be cultivated before any real understanding of the self and the teachings can take place.
We need to develop a steady, stable mind. This type of mind is not given to moodiness and emotional roller coasters. This is a more mature mind. This type of mind leads to a steady, stable life where crisis living is not tolerated. No one can control whether on not they encounter crisis in their lives but we can set up our lives so as to minimise the chance of unnecessary crisis. Living within ones financial means is one such attitude.
Growing up and growing old are not the same thing. Growing up is about maturing as an individual, becoming responsible for yourself and your actions in society.
Another good attitude to develop from the perspective of spiritual growth is open mindedness. To have an open mind is to be without prejudice and judgement. Since we are taught prejudice and judgement as part of our conditioning in society it is necessary to become aware of these qualities in ourselves. Do you have blanket beliefs about politics, politicians, religions, women, professions, ethnic groups, etc. Usually we do not notice these in ourselves until we start a deliberate search for our hidden beliefs, assumptions and expectations.
If your mind is already full of beliefs, “facts” and opinions it is not open to taking on new ideas and it is necessary to be open to new ideas for spiritual growth to happen in you.
Learn to find your hidden assumptions behind your moods and attitudes.
An attitude of self-reliance is necessary. Learn to take responsibility for your body, your livelihood, your moods, your beliefs and so on. As a child you are totally dependent of your parents for everything. The process of growing up is one of gradually taking responsibility for yourself. Many people get stuck or distracted along the way. Society and the media are only too willing claim some of your dependence but at the cost of your energy and your indepencence. Self-reliance is about being your own person while at the same time finding a way to fit into society as much as necessary. Many people do not realise they have a responsibility to themselves to figure this out and instead fall into the habit of going along with the crowd.
A common sense attitude is necessary. There is a notion around that in order to be spiritual one needs to be not involved in daily life. Spiritual behaviour is seen as idealistic, airy-fairy, unrealistic and not concerned with the practicalities of daily life. Nothing could be further from the truth. Spiritual life is daily life, lived consciously. It is about being responsible for you actions, practical, and non harming to yourself and others.
An attitude of patience is necessary. Patience is about being willing to accept things as they are as opposed to feeling they should be different, that they should be in a way that suits your ideas and desires.
This is an attitude that is called for in many aspects of our daily lives; in traffic, in queues for all kinds of service, in restaurants, in awaiting results from doctors or school, and so on. Patience is the result of not indulging your frustration or rushing mentality in any situation.
An attitude of devotion or commitment to your spiritual growth is necessary. Often times people delay their growth out of lack of trust. They are not convinced that the path of spiritual growth is real or valuable. They have not come across teachings or a teacher whom they feel to be really trustworthy or authentic. It is necessary to sift through teachers and teachings until you find one who “speaks” to you and to reject those whom you do not feel sure about. The very fact of looking to find help with your spiritual growth is the first steps.
A can-do attitude is necessary. Have faith in yourself, in your suspicion that there is something more to life than the physical world. Determine to find out for yourself what is hidden behind the surface of life. You are just a entitled as anyone to break through the suface of life and find the mystery underneath. This is the natural right of every human being but you must go after it for yourself. Nobody else can do your spiritual work for you.
One last but not least attitude that is necessary to develop is discrimination. Look deep into yourself, your beliefs, your patterns of behaviour and feeling, your motivations, your expectations, etc. Become observant of yourself and those around you, not with a view to judging but to understanding what is going on. Discrimination is about learning to see what is going on beneath the surface.
Our attitudes are influenced and modified by the people we associate with, and the culture we come from. In order to develop an attitude which is conducive to spiritual growth it helps to be associating with others who are committed to this path.