INTRODUCTION TO SPIRITUAL STYLES
Discovering, Honoring and Harnessing Your Styles for Learning & Practice
The major religions have developed rituals, myths, deities, metaphysics, aesthetics, meditations, devotional prayers, etc., that match up to the natural archetypal styles residing in human beings everywhere. Implicitly, they have created big tents and found niches for everyone. However, as with educational institutions, religious and spiritual institutions often slip into a one-size-fits-all mode of spiritual education and practice. This is also true of meditative practices. Too often, teachers a single modality for all students. This often leaves many ‘out in the cold.’
Since each of us has all these archetypal styles nascent within us, these need to be honored, utilized and brought into harmony in order for each individual to be fully engaged on a spiritual path. Primary archetypal styles differ from one person to the next and often change in the course of a person’s lifetime. Unknowingly, they provide us with a starting point for spiritual belief and practice. Unconsciously, they lead us toward our spiritual paths, meditative practices and guide our journeys.
Normally, we are not aware of the power that these archetypal styles exert on our lives and the decisions we make. They provide the foundation for our choices and yet we generally don’t recognize their existence. But, once we have identified and honored these styles within us we can begin systematically to make conscious, intelligent choices in the formation of our spiritual paths and meditative practices.
One of the primary causes for spiritual dysfunctionality in today’s world is that many of us have been unable to match our primary archetypal spiritual styles with the teachings and practices of a major tradition. Therefore, we seek solutions in a myriad of ways of thinking and practice and attempt to cobble together a path for ourselves from a combination of traditional and secular practices. To help us do this better, the Spiritual Paths Mandala process helps us to engage in the development of our path in a more systematic manner. We do so by utilizing our own primary spiritual archetypes to find the answers to our spiritual questions. We then integrate and balance all of our styles and apply our answers in the development of our path.
Living a life which is harmonious with one’s deepest spiritual being is perhaps the most difficult yet most important task there is. When done successfully, it is joyful and satisfying beyond any other. Once a spiritual foundation and meditative practice is secure, it supports, informs and gives purpose to one’s whole life no matter what one’s profession might be. It pervades all aspects and all moments of life ‑‑ nine to five at the office ‑‑ four to seven with the kids at home‑‑Saturdays and Sundays enjoying the company of family and friends. This foundation, or lack of it, affects everything we think, do and feel. So, without taking ourselves too seriously, the pursuit needs to be recognized as a serious one, worthy of our deep and abiding effort.
Therefore, it is important to begin by identifying our own natural spiritual archetypal styles. As we progress down the path, it will be important to begin integrating our other styles so that our understanding, action and experience form an integrated and solid foundation for our internal spiritual life and external engagement in the world.
The profiling tool will help you discover your archetypal spiritual styles and harness them to create your spiritual path and meditative practice. Your styles may shift over the course of your life. Therefore the present results of this instrument are informative but not fixed for all time. The results will simply help stimulate a greater inner awareness about how you learn and how you can harness your natural styles for learning and practicing. If you are a teacher or mentor, this instrument can help you to know your student better and to help them to gain greater self knowledge. In this way, you are not telling them what to believe and how to practice, but midwifing their personal discovery of a spiritual path and/or a contemplative practice.
This profile instrument can be retaken from time to time to see how your primary styles shift thus helping you to make periodic adjustments to your methods for spiritual inquiry and practice.