Spiritual growth is all about deepening one’s awareness. And the awareness I’m talking about is of the innermost workings of the heart. It’s also awareness of the inter-connection of all creation. As we evolve spiritually, we begin to see the bigger picture. We “wake up” to a broader reality. (See also: Spiritual Awakening and Character Growth.)
Spiritual growth and character growth go hand-in-hand. You see, it’s all about relationship. Healthy characters have the capacity for healthy relationships. And the most important relationship we can have is the one with our “higher power.” (How folks conceive of a higher power or reality varies.) Now, some folks have poor to nonexistent relationships with that power. For example, narcissists can barely imagine a such a power. (See: Narcissists Can’t Recognize a Higher Power.) And that’s the root of so many of their problem behaviors.
The Spiritual Roots of Character Growth
In Character Disturbance, I introduced what I call the 10 Commandments of Character. The commandments describe the essential life lessons we have to learn and take to heart to forge a character of integrity. And, as many of you know, I’m still working on a whole book on the topic.
The work in progress means more to me than any past work. Why? Because it’s more than just another book on character and its importance. Rather, it’s a testament to what life and years of clinical practice have taught me about how we actually achieve it. And because I believe so firmly in how much character matters, perhaps now more than ever, I want to get it just right. Moreover, because I believe a spiritual awakening is so fundamental to attaining truly healthy character, I want the book to be more than just an expansion on the principles I introduced in my earlier work.
All the great spiritual masters have had something to say about the attributes of truly noble characters. Folks of solid character are in right relationship with themselves, with those they encounter, with the world in which they live, and with the universe that conferred life upon them. They don’t just see the big picture. They know they’re part of the picture. And ardently strive to be a loving, giving, integral part of this grand enterprise we call life.
The Spiritual Side of the “Commandments”
You can, of course, find the commandments I’ve been talking about in Character Disturbance. You can also find them in several articles on this blog. See, for example:
- Character’s First Command: Mindfulness through Empathy
- Mastering the 1st Command: Why Some Fail
- Commandment 2: Humble Gratitude
- Revering Truth: Character’s 4th Command
But what you won’t find is an elaboration on the spiritual dimensions of these commandments. That’s why I’m taking such care in re-writing my upcoming book.
In the coming weeks I’m going to be previewing the revisions of my new book. And I’ll be quite interested in the comments by readers. The comments should help me solidify my thoughts. And they should inform me if I’m on the right track.
Revisiting the 10 Commandments
To reacquaint you, here again, in brief, are the 10 Commandments:
- You are not the center of the universe. Be mindful of how you, your urges and desires, and most especially your behavior impact everyone and everything else that exists.
- Remember, you are not really entitled to anything. Therefore, strive to be grateful. And show your gratitude by honoring your obligations, thus meriting respect.
- You are neither an insignificant speck nor are you so precious or essential to the universe that it simply cannot do without you. Keep a humble, balanced perspective on your sense of worth.
- Have the utmost reverence for the truth for it can truly set you free. Be ever mindful of humankind’s incredible capacity to deceive, including oneself. Honestly and humbly acknowledge and reckon with your shortcomings and mistakes.
- Master your appetites and aversions.
- Be Mindful. Think before you act. Be the master of your impulses.
- Strive to develop solidity, strength, and rightness of purpose, with regard to your will.
- Anger and human aggression are not inherently evil. But fight only when necessary; fight fairly; and above all, fight constructively and with as much care as possible to make things better while respecting the rights, needs, and boundaries of self and others (i.e. assertively).
- Treat those you encounter with civility and generosity.
- To the best of your ability, be of sincere heart and purpose.
Next week I’ll be revisiting the first commandment with a new, spiritual growth emphasis.
Follow the link to the pilot episodes of the new Character Matters program.