We often assess our progress in life through materialistic targets. Qualifications, promotions and rising salaries all enable us to make in-roads that lead us to these targets.
Some people’s ambitions are limited to paying off the mortgage and saving enough money for an annual trip abroad. Others don’t have a problem with being indebted to the banks, and dream of owning many properties as well as driving the most exclusive of cars. However big or small, we all have individual worldly ambitions that motivate us to leave our beds and earn a living day in, day out.
And of course, there is no harm in wanting to better ourselves – to have dreams and goals that we hope will improve the quality of our lives and of our loved ones. But the quality of our lives is not improved only by our materialistic gains. Many of us choose to ignore our progress in all things spiritual, often denying its very existence. Unlike the material world, it is difficult to put a number on spirituality. As our income increases, our graph of materialism shows an upward turn, but how can we assess our increases in spirituality?
What actions are most excellent? To gladden the heart of a human being, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the wrongs of the injured. (The Words of Muhammad, peace be upon him, compiled from Reliable Sources by Dr. M. Hafiz Syed)
Spirituality encompasses matters of the heart. Forgiveness, controlling anger, showing kindness to others, displaying gratitude, our connection with the unseen – these are all aspects of spirituality that we often choose to ignore. Do we ever compare our kindness to others from one year to the next? If we follow a faith, do we assess the quality of our prayer and set our selves goals to increase our connection to God? Instead of committing more hours to our work, do we sacrifice some of that time by volunteering to help those less fortunate, hence improving our spirituality? This is our graph of spirituality, and without reflection and action, it will remain stagnant.
When one truly believes that their existence in this world is not simply to survive but to contribute positively towards the lives of others, then that upward turn on the graph of spirituality can begin. People with deep rooted faith motivate their spirituality through their belief that God has placed them on the earth precisely for the purpose of serving others. Those who do not have a faith look to their hearts, recognising that as humans, it is our duty to respond to the needs of others and to improve the state of humanity.
Unfortunately, many of us are too absorbed in our own daily lives to release some of our worldly time for the benefit of others. The reward one receives for serving a meal to the homeless or writing a letter on behalf of a stroke patient is immense. It is an internal, everlasting reward unlike the short buzz one receives when we buy those designer shoes. Why not, instead of spending that extra hour of overtime it took to pay for those shoes, visit a care home and chat to a resident? Your spiritual graph will shoot up and will leave you wanting more.
We all praise those who help others…why not make the transition to the other side and experience the real reason of our existence.
(Why not share your experiences of spirituality in the comments box?)