A characteristic of authentic spiritual growth is surrender which is the movement away from a narcissistic orientation and the gradual giving up insisting that reality conform to our desires. A mark of spiritual immaturity is manifested by misunderstanding what freedom means and thinking that it means we have the right to do anything we want. To me the proliferation of dating sites is proof of the fragmented way in which people now live resulting in people feeling an isolation that they try to solve by finding someone. A more mature understanding views freedom as having the right to do what should be done when in fact that may not be at all what we want to do! Spiritual growth is found in a growing desire to be at one with the will of the Divine as it is expressed in the demands of each day.
Sometimes people come to me for counseling who want to know what books to read or courses to take in order to grow spiritually. In my view those things have a limited usefulness! Life itself is always trying to teach us if we are willing to pay attention! What comes to mind is how the Hawaiian ‘Ohana experience inculcates in its members a characteristic essential to spiritual life… that of being respectful in orientation and expression. Central to the ‘Ohana experience is that of belonging to others and of how that puts reins on one’s narcissistic impulses. Within the ‘Ohana one grows up with the understanding that the living of their life reflects upon the entire ‘Ohana!
A hallmark of ‘Ohana is the cultivation of respect. Children are taught to show respect for their Elders, are taught that there are others who know more than they do, that the Elders will never be their peers and that they therefore deserve expressions of respect in no less a way than the Divine deserves respect. Children are taught that an expression of respect is to care for the needs of their Kupuna as they age, unlike the Mainland view that the elderly are a nuisance, a problem to be solved, people to be disposed of or pushed out of society’s daily life. The ‘Ohana view of the elderly is that the Kupuna, even while receiving care from the members of their ‘Ohana is giving back to the family the wisdom of their lived experience. They share with younger members the history of their ‘Ohana. The Kupuna are understood to be the link between now and before and are therefore the people who enable the young to belong. For a member of an ‘Ohana no matter where their life takes them they are never lost. Their heart knows where home is.