There are a lot of truths about the heart, mind and love that have been shrouded by religious dogma. So, let's not get bogged down by religious doctrine, but, rather, learn how we can use our minds, thoughts, consciousness to shape our lives. It is your mind that shapes your life. Proverbs 23:7 says tells us that "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." Let's take a look at love. How do we think about love, receiving it, and giving it? Might it be possible that the way we think about love can determine how we experience it? Yes.
When you regularly pray or meditate, you have spiritual experiences that others who do not undertake such practices do not share. It's written in 1 Timothy 4:15-16, "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all." When you meditate, you are essentially focused. When you pray, you are specific. And when you meditate, you are giving yourself wholly to the effort. It's as if you set your mind like a lens of a camera, focusing on something, and the rest of the background becomes a bit blurry. Anyone can do this - regardless of faith or belief - anyone can mentally focus.
But how can we experience love for more than just a fleeting, albeit focused, moment? How can one be peaceful in times of trouble? Loving when confronted with hate? Joyous in normal circumstances or conditions? Doing so successfully seems to require a transcendence of self beyond the surrounding world. For example, I know a woman who seems to be always at a steady, calm pace in life. She speaks with a smile. And seems to be never upset. No matter what's going on around her. How can this be? It's more than just mentally focusing for a moment, or two, or however long. It's more than just being able to focus, pray or meditate.
Enlightened folk are those who seem to have discovered a way in which to live and experience love (receiving, embodying, and giving) unconditionally; feel joy for the sake of joy itself; and live peacefully regardless of the circumstances surrounding them. But how? How does a normal person transcend the day-to-day activities that sometimes consume large portions of our lives, and experience life that is spiritual, peaceful, filled with love and joy. How does that woman I know stay so peaceful and reserved?
Many turn to religion. Many religious folk proclaim to experience wonderful states of mind and body. Some experience some interesting episodes. But it's unlikely that those experiences were the result of a meaningful study of the nature of consciousness, thought, and mind. Religion abhors investigation. To gain empirical knowledge about the nature of your mind, it seems that one would have to be free of religious dogma and doctrine. You have to control your own mind and explore. Test yourself and see if doing X results in Y. Romans 12:2 encourages, "Do not be conformed to this world, fashioned after and adapted to its superficial customs, but be transformed (changed) by the entire renewal of your mind, so that you may prove for yourselves what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
As you can see, the bible encourages us to transcend the world around us, be not conformed to it by its superficial customs, but, rather, transform yourselves. This begs the question then. How does one renew the mind? How to your experientially know and proof to yourselves that good, perfect, peaceful state of mind and experience true love?
Rudolf Steiner said, “If we do not believe within ourselves this deeply rooted feeling that there is something higher than ourselves, we shall never find the strength to evolve into something higher.” You have to believe to transform yourselves, transcend the superficial customs of the world that surround you, strip away your egotistical desires and wants, and dig deep into the study of your self, your mind, consciousness itself. And empirically prove to yourselves by means of observation and experimentation that you are indeed a spiritual being.
1 Peter 4:7 says to keep sound minded and self-restrained and alert therefore for the practice of prayer. One has to have a sound mind, self-restrained, and alert. Be mindful by the practice of praying or meditating. You keep yourself mindful by paying attention to what you're thinking. Remember, how you think affects how you live. So, what are you thinking about? Philippians 4:8 lists are few: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things, fix your minds on them."
Be mindful. Be introspective. This is not chanting. This is not simply closing your eyes. This is not having good feelings or self-feeding positive affirmations. This is not clearing your mind empty. This is about being aware. Being aware of what you are experiencing. Being mindful, having a clear understanding. Being aware is about your conscious experience. Hebrew 10:32 suggests that if we are mindful, we can even endure great pain and struggles that we experience as spiritually enlightened people. It reads, "But be ever mindful, clearly aware, of the days gone by in which, after you were first spiritually enlightened, you endured a great and painful struggle."
Being mindful, aware, being attentive to your consciousness and how you are actually experiencing life, you can transform, transcend, become enlightened, and live a life that is filled with peace, joy and love. Love of God. In 1 Peter 4:8, the bible encourages us to love, give love and receive it. It says, "Above all things, have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of offenses. Be hospitable, be a lover of strangers, with brotherly affection for the unknown guests, the foreigners, the poor, and all others who come your way."
I encourage you to think upon these spiritual matters.
Tips for Men to Be Better Men, Wonderful Husbands, and Loving Fathers