Tag Archives: Spirituality

Why We Should All Read News

Get reading!

This post’s title is, I’ll admit, a bit on the direct side, and doesn’t leave much of the content of it up to the imagination. So I’m going to be cutting to the chase much faster with this post than I often do, because it’s an issue that I think is a very important one.

As the doors to discovery in our world begin to open wider and wider, we have more and more opportunities to stay informed and up-to-date on what’s happening in the world. Through incredible advances in technology, we’re able to stay informed about events almost as soon as they happen, and even watch events as they happen.

So there’s a lot of opportunity and availability out there! But why should we take advantage of it?

First, at least in my opinion, the news is both very interesting and very informative. Incredible and important things happen every day, and many of them will have an impact on our lives, whether that’s in a direct or a more tangential way. This is especially true in a financial sense, as events on the other side of the world, such as the tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan or the conflict in Libya, can have a hefty impact on our lives and livelihoods.

But keeping up to date on current events and news goes far beyond simple self-interest! Every person on this planet is a human being, which means that each and every one of us 6.7 billion homo sapiens has experienced or will likely experience the emotions, joys, and sufferings of life. Of course, few want to endure great suffering or hardship in their lives, but the fact remains that none of us are really able to avoid this. Indeed, these experiences are an integral part of our humanity. But as human beings, we also have the opportunity, if I can use that word, to share our human stories of great joy and great suffering and grow more connected, not only to those immediately around us, but to all people all across the world.

I think of the news as a way to do this, to connect with people around the world, even thought they may not know about it. By keeping up on current events, we can make a part of someone else’s life a part of our own, and by doing that we can become more passionate about the world we live in and the people who live in it! Some of the world issues that are the most important to me, such as water shortage, were revealed to me by some news source, and that helped me to become more engaged with the world.

People have countless justifications for not being informed about the world and what’s happening in it. Maybe they’re too busy, they can’t afford to subscribe to a newspaper, magazine, or online source, or they just feel they have better things to do. But, as I mentioned before, it’s incredibly easy to stay up-to-date nowadays. It literally takes seconds to visit CNN’s website or drop by the NYT site for the latest headlines.

I’m not just writing this as a plug for news sources. I really do think that staying informed about world events, to the best of your abilities, is a very important way of showing care and empathy for other people. It’s one thing to say that you’re praying for the people of Japan; it’s another thing entirely to show that care by involving yourself in their pain and understanding what you might be able to do to help. It may hurt to bring yourself so close to such tragedies that you could just as easily avoid, but I firmly believe that all people should do everything they can to sympathize with and understand each other. Reading the news is a great way to do that.

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Seeking the Spiritual: From Self-Centeredness to a Centered Self

We must move from thinking of ourselves to knowing ourselves.

The word ego has become something of a negative term these days, and tends to conjure up images of self-obsession and arrogance. When I say that someone has a big ego, it usually translates to, “That person is full of themselves.”

But there’s more sophistication to this word than most people realize. In a more Freudian sense, the word refers to the center of the self, and a sense of self-awareness.

We’re often told, especially in religious circles, that to be too focused on yourself is to lose the ability to focus on others, and this is true in a certain context. When we’re spending too much time worrying about ourselves and our own needs and desires, it’s really difficult to have any genuine care for others, and this could be called self-centeredness.

But there’s a key difference between self-centeredness and what I’ll call a centered self. To be self-centered is to think only of one’s own personal needs and possible gains. To have a centered self is to have a deep understanding of those personal needs and the nature of who you are as a person. It’s an awareness of your identity as a human being, but not an obsession with that identity or that human being.

The problem is, most people can’t seem to think of the self at the center as a good thing, but only as a source of arrogance and egotism. The key here is to understand what having a centered self really is. Of course, as a college student, I realize I’m not really at all qualified to say I either understand this or have the authority to tell others how they should. So, I’m choosing to merely encourage others to begin exploring the concept of the “self;” how to replace self-centeredness with a centered self.

Let’s go into a little more detail about self-centeredness. I’m sure we all have some concept of this, and certainly some personal experience with it. Self-centeredness is thinking only of your own interests, and pursuing only the things that personally benefit you. To my mind, this self-centeredness is a distortion of the true vision of the self that we should have. Our self should be very important, indeed central, to us, but this should not take the form of pursuing our vain and vague desires, at whatever the cost.

A self at the center should instead take the form of self awareness. Most people place a fairly high value on themselves, and this is only to be expected. But we should not use this value as a way to justify thoughts of self-superiority or self-righteousness. We should use this value to realize our importance as members of the human race. And on a more spiritual level, we should realize that our self-value is a metaphysical thing as well! The self I’m talking about in this post isn’t our physical body; it’s our soul, or our essence, if you will. It’s a self that goes beyond anything we’ve done in this life or anyone we consider ourselves to be. In other words, the self is the soul, and it must be at the center of everything we do.


Filed under Seeking the Spiritual

Seeking the Spiritual: Nature and the Divine

Could our spiritual being be connected to nature?

Ever since the dawn of man, humanity has had a deep connection with the land, or at least it has been meant to. Our land has been used for growing our food, providing us with water and animals, building our homes and habitats, and supporting most of life as we know it. Humanity depends on the rest of nature for almost everything we do.

But I think that nature has much more than a utilitarian connection to us. So often, we as humans view the rest of the environment as a kind of resource to be used and exploited as we see fit. Many people fail to see that we as humans are a part of nature, not above it, and that we’re very much dependent on it for almost all of our most basic needs. So in some sense, humanity is deeply rooted and connected to the world around us.

But I would say this extends far beyond a simple physical dependency on the land. Humankind has a spiritual connection to the world as well, in ways I can’t claim I’m even close to completely understanding. The religion I grew up in, Protestant Christianity, has never had much interest (or concern) for nature, being careful to keep it in a subservient role so as not to “idolize” creation. I was always taught that creation cannot and should not be revered above its creator, and to elevate nature too high would put me in the heresy danger zone. And, although I’m still young, I’ve begun to see more and more how limited I had allowed my spirituality to become, especially in this area.

Until recently, I would never let myself think of the natural world as something I could be spiritually connected to. While I’ve always known I’m in some way part of nature, for most of my life I’ve thought of myself as above and apart from the natural world. But now, I’ve begun to realize just how important and meaningful nature is for me, especially in a spiritual sense. There are few times when I feel more connected to my spirituality, the world around me, and even my fellow man than when I’m in a beautiful, natural place.

What I really want to stress in this post is this: the connection between man and nature is not specific to any religion, creed, or belief system. It is a spiritual, divine connection between human beings and the world they live in. If all people, all across the world, could agree to live in a way that honored this connection, then we could be responsible inhabitants of this shared Earth.

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Filed under Environment & Nature, Seeking the Spiritual