I’ve https://forums.huduser.gov/forum/user-332001.html often wondered with such a broad assortment of spiritual information and concepts of enlightenment available; why is it that so many people continue to struggle with life’s basic challenges? Despite the fact that spirituality is “in,” it seems that more and more people are finding that the spiritual road has many potholes and creates more questions than answers. We’ve attended all the seminars, and we’ve read all the books. We seem to know all the answers. Despite these facts our most significant objective, “PEACE” consistently eludes us. Why?

Perhaps we need to place our spiritual practices on hold. Perhaps our concern should not be focused on spiritual development, seeking enlightenment, or becoming “God-realized.” Maybe instead of trying to expand our consciousness, we need to learn to expand our hearts. Conceivably we need to be fully developed humans before we focus on our spiritual nature. It is in ignoring or skipping over our humanity that our souls find unrest. We can’t skip a step. It doesn’t work! It will backfire on us– and it has.

Now, how will we know when we’ve transformed into fully-developed human beings? The answer will not be found in our physical appearance, but instead in how we behave. There will be five signs indicating we’ve reached that plateau.

1. The day we stop harming and killing each other! As long as even one person on the Earth hurts or slaughters another; collectively, we will never attain our true humanity, and total PEACE will escape us. Actually, a fully-developed human being would never harm nor kill another. The value you place on life will be of such high magnitude that you’d rather give your own life than let another lose theirs. That is the greatest act of love any human can perform.

2. Our minds will be altruistically transformed, and we’ll enjoy an unselfish concern and devotion to the welfare of others.

3. We will possess and project unconditional love for ourselves, our family, our neighbor, and every living thing on this planet.

4. We will possess and project unconditional compassion for ourselves, our family, our neighbor, and every living thing on this planet.

5. We will possess and project unconditional kindness to ourselves, our family, our neighbor, and every living thing on this planet.

Are these not the same behaviors demonstrated by the great masters who walked the Earth before us? However, these are not spiritual practices. These are the actions that allow us to define ourselves as human and separate us from the animal kingdom. Today, we see some animals exhibiting higher moral behavior than some so-called humans. Therefore, our greatness lies not in our spirituality, but instead with the right use of our humanity. Similarly, our greatness lies in not being strong, but instead with the proper use of our strength.

It is in the expansion of the human heart and in loving and serving others that our humanity can be channeled and developed. Consequently, we will never find enlightenment in an ashram. We will never find love in a doctrine. We will not learn compassion in a sweat lodge. We will never find peace or truth in dogma. Human beings find love, enlightenment, compassion, and PEACE only in serving others. It is in our service to others that we lose our love of power and find the power of love. That is the only correct path, and seemingly the road least traveled.

It is our fully developed humanity that will bring us all the PEACE we long for. PEACE for ourselves, PEACE for our families, and PEACE for our neighbor. The PEACE we experience will be so extraordinary; we’ll crave nothing else. Our spirituality will then be a by-product.

Spirituality includes all religions, religious views and spiritual beliefs. Spirituality is not organized religion. Spirituality is not Spiritualism, a belief in communicating with the dead. Spirituality is not a New Age term, nor is it associated with the occult or anything subversive, secretive, mysterious or irreligious.

The dictionary defines spiritual as of the spirit or of the soul as distinguished from the body and the material matters. We are body, mind, and spirit. Spirituality is everything related to the spirit, which is separate from our mental or emotional mind and separate from our physical or material world.

I like a definition provided by philosopher Ken Wilber:

Spirituality is an intelligence that is separate from intellect, emotions or any other aspect of our lives but just as valuable.

Body, mind and spirit. We are a combination of all three. Spirituality, or the study of that third aspect of our lives, is all-inclusive and not limited to any one set of beliefs. In spirituality, there is the moment of spiritual awareness. Deepak Chopra discusses the similarities of spiritual awareness in all religious and spiritual traditions.

Perhaps the word is enlightenment or illumination, since finding or seeing the light is one way to express this encounter, which when experienced, is clear yet often difficult to describe. Chopra suggests this experience as taking us from the material world to a virtual reality not available to our five senses. Heaven is imagined as a place free from the bonds of earthly life where gravity no longer holds down the body, but this virtual reality is within.

Spiritual awakening is the connection to a different level where the invisible and the visible merge. Many of us have experienced such a moment when we knew we were connected to something greater than ourselves:

o Maybe it is standing in an old Native American ruin, with the energy encompassing all and, even though others mingle nearby, there is a feeling of transcendence.

o Maybe it is standing on the ocean’s edge, feeling the lapping of the shore as if it were cleansing the soul and leaving a sense of peace and togetherness while the sand between the toes continues to assure a grounding.

o Maybe it is driving through the mountains with the peaks rising high on all sides, highlighting a feeling of insignificance and humility in the presence of a much larger scene.

o Maybe it is meditating, feeling totally encompassed with love and a sense that, at that moment, everything is wonderful, forgiving, lasting.

Individual experiences vary, but similar feelings unite us. Spiritual awareness is a common bond despite different beliefs. Spiritual awareness guides our Spirituality. Everything is connected to the spirit, the third aspect of our lives, that combines with our body and mind to remind us we are spiritual beings having a human experience.