Questioning Everything – 12 quotes from Meredith Gould’s book – Desperately Seeking Spirituality: A Field Guide to Practice

by Mark Votava

261134981. Remarkably resistant to change

“Spiritual growth involves changing perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors. It’s that annoyingly simple but not at all easy because humans aren’t especially keen on change. Even longtime Seekers aspiring to total transformation can be remarkably resistant to change…”

2. Wrestling with paradox

“You might also be comforted by knowing that wrestling with paradox is an inescapable aspect of spiritual growth. Every religious tradition has core teachings firmly fixed in paradox. In at least one Eastern tradition, pondering paradox is itself considered a key practice.”

3. Questioning everything

“What we think is our path to God, may not be our path to God. Turns out the ‘dark night of the soul’ lasts much longer than one night and the metaphor is as accurate as it is lyrical. Feelings of wanting to withdraw and isolate while questioning everything are typical at this stage…”

4. The whole world is a spiritual practice field

“The whole world is a spiritual practice field and opportunities to practice curiosity abound. God’s grace is always somewhere in the messiness of life, and asking increasingly pointed questions about what, where, when, why, and how will help you discover it. Become willing to opt for being curious the next time you feel bored, bothered, and bewildered.”

5. We’re all connected

“…we’re all connected and beloved creatures of God…”

6. Exploring whatever diminishes, blocks, or may completely obliterate delight

“Practicing this practice of being involves exploring whatever diminishes, blocks, or may completely obliterate delight, and then healing whatever needs to be healed to encounter and recognize it…”

7. Whatever emerges

“…plan to practice curiosity and delight about whatever emerges during your solitude and behold how self-care has become a spiritual practice.”

8. Essential forms of self-care

“Relaxation and rest are essential forms of self-care…”

9. Focusing on actually being rather than doing stuff

“For a change try focusing on actually being rather than doing stuff that promises to get you there eventually…”

10. All beings share a sacred heritage

“Big questions get bigger: Why am I here? What am I called to do? Other people – their needs and sorrows – are becoming more intriguing. You’re realizing that ‘it’ isn’t even about you. Spiritual life, it turns out, is ultimately about understanding and acting upon the knowledge that all beings share a sacred heritage.”

11. Ongoing and never-ending

“…your spiritual growth will stay somewhat stalled unless and until you become open to seeing and doing things differently. Willingness, then, is an essential practice for Seekers that’s ongoing and never-ending – something else you might need to muster some willingness to accept. It’s also a radical practice, the taproot from which every other practice is nourished. Plan on recommitting to the practice of willingness whenever resistance shows up, and it will show up, usually but not exclusively during times of life cycle transition.”

12. View your own pain and suffering as a gift

“You’ll need to explore self to go beyond self, be willing to see and feel your own brokenness before being able to recognize it in others, be willing to view your own pain and suffering as a gift. Empathy is a practice of being that will help you shift from feeling for to feeling with in a healthy way that might not feel especially terrific, but will reveal what you already know – that the Divine is fully present in all of it.”

Have you been questioning everything about life?

Purchase Desperately Seeking Spirituality: A Field Guide to Practice

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist