Quotes from The Thirst for Wholeness

Making Room

Tolerance is the opposite of judgmentalism and bigotry, and it involves acceptance and sympathy. It applies both to ourselves and to others. It is the ability to embrace our own faults and weaknesses, as well as our gifts and strengths. This does not mean that we must condone or like them, but that we accept them as they exist in the present. Externally, tolerance signifies the ability to allow and indulge other people, beliefs, or activities that may differ from our own, to make room for them as part of a complex, varied, and dynamic world, rather than judging and excluding them.

Awaken and Develop

Love and compassion lead to the ability to engage in honest intimacy with ourselves, other people, the world and God. They are central to most sacred traditions. The opening of the heart, the birth of compassion and love from within, is often the beginning of the true spiritual life. From that initial awakening, it becomes essential to further develop these qualities throughout our lives.

Feeding on Fear

For many people, the most prominent motivating force in life is fear. Many of us feel it daily. It may manifest in small increments in our everyday lives: we feel afraid of failing at our job or being abandoned in a relationship. Or overwhelming anxiety may immobilize us as we realize our mortality or fear the potential harm that might come to us through violence; we may feel a free-floating terror that emanates from an unknown source. Just as shame engenders our mistrust of ourselves, fear feeds our mistrust of other people, the life process, even God.

Challenges

Although the spiritual path is rewarding and wondrous, by its very nature it also entails challenges and pitfalls…. Some people who are just beginning to test the waters of their spirituality for the first time become distressed when they recognize this fact. They might have read books that describe splendid transcendent states, heard tales of divine intervention and compassionate action, and responded to the allure of notions such as ‘enlightenment,’ ‘love,’ ‘ecstasy,’ ‘peace,’ or ‘grace.’ To their dismay, they discover that, although the spiritual life can include all these experiences and more, it is not exclusively luminous, gentle or easy. It can be extremely demanding and difficult at times.

Grace and the Deeper Self

Grace is not something we can strive toward through virtue or good works. We do not achieve it by refining the correct spiritual practices. The expression of grace is not a linear, cause-and-effect phenomenon. Nor is it something that exists separately from our day-to-day existence. Full of mystery, this divine activity transpires in the most ordinary circumstances. Grace simply happens, and although we cannot work for it, we deserve it. If we are each composed of a small self and a deeper Self, it is our birthright to become familiar with that deeper Self.