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Taming and Directing our Spiritual Drive

December 28, 2013

Strange…. A thought just hit me that I don’t recall having before, although it’s right in the purview of this blog and a great deal of my life.  The thought that we have what might be legitimately called a “spiritual drive”. 

Trained in  psychology, one would think I’d have thought of spirituality in terms of a “drive”, even perhaps a rough analog to the sex drive.  (I’m not sure if Freudians would agree, but I think most would not…. Freud, big on the drive of sex, considered images of God to be illusions – outward projections of our idealized father and such. He wasn’t entirely wrong.  It seems clear such a process does go on.)

Statue of Sigmund Freud in London, with the Ta...

Statue of Sigmund Freud in London, with the Tavistock Clinic in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Actually I long have believed that a pursuit of the spiritual realm – for many, meaning God directly – was indeed hardwired in us.  Some people seem to set it aside (repress it, to borrow again from Freud’s vocabulary?) in early adulthood or sometime.  But it tends to pop out from time to time, sometimes to be embraced by these same people.  Others of us have given the drive full rein other than attending to the need to “chop wood, carry water”.  Even in this “practical world” activity, we may be seeing the spiritual, as was Brother Lawrence in “Practicing the Presence of God”.

Now as to my title, I think most of us believe the sex drive needs taming, at least in many of us….  Or maybe “directing” it is the only “taming” it needs….  Either way, we (generally) take a conscious, active role in managing it.   Do we do the same with our spiritual longings and pursuits? (I’m going to throw in here what some might call “philosophical” or “existential” questions, dealing with the meaning of things.)

Do you occasionally step back, as it were, from your specific spiritual (or religious) beliefs and involvements and ask, “How did I get ‘here’? Why am I believing and doing what I am?”

I don’t know if I’ve formulated my self-questions exactly that way over the years, but I’ve surely engaged the process of looking ever deeper, seeking either confirmation or disconfirmation of beliefs I’d taken on (some of them prior to my brain or rational maturity).  I sought, and still seek, better ways of making sense of all of the world and life, of lining up all the “data points” I can.  (I realize I’m more curious in pursuing an understanding of phenomena of inner and outer experience than most people, but they are not entirely unlike me in this.)  One result was, about 1995 -96,  a major adjustment in both my theology and the broader worldview in which it rested.  Minor adjustments continue, and I love the process!

This post, which I’m going to keep brief as mainly a question-posing one, is actually a sort of preface to what I’d been thinking of writing next: A bit more substantial challenge for readers to attend to the rational side of “faith” (or more accurately, of belief systems).  Now faith or experience of “God” or “the numinous” or “Spirit” is certainly beyond the rational, even by definition.  But it need not be in conflict with it, as it often is in common religious systems, including much of Christianity.  So look for that as a follow-up to this brief lead-in today.

And your comment on your own experience or what you see in others around you is more than welcome! 

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