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Spirituality, Expansion, And Compression
by Diana Robinson, Ph.D.

We may explore the universe and find ourselves, or we may explore ourselves and find the universe. It matters not which of these paths we choose. All that matters is that we explore, spurred and guided by the spirit of truth. Thus, learning, loving, and growing, we evolve toward our Ultimate Goal, knowing that the truths we add to ourselves we add to all, for we and the universe are one.

For many of us, I think spirituality has a lot to do with being able to tune in to feelings of an immensity beyond oneself. Perhaps this is one reason why there is so much connection between spiritual growth and time spent outside, attuned to nature, and in the desert. One can experience the feeling of expansiveness that comes from looking up to the sky, or to the stars, and realizing the hugeness of our surroundings. It cannot fail to be a source of wonder and inspiration for almost all of us.

How truly amazing, then, is spiritual growth that happens when the reverse is true, when a person is cut off from nature, is shut in, confined, feeling not expansion but compression. What of the Roman Christians who had to hide in the catacombs? What of the spiritual writings that emerge from the horrors of the concentration camps?

Perhaps in some circumstances there is such compression that one is forced back into oneself, into one's essence. From there, if "good" maintains the stronger part of one's essence, comes the distillation of this good. In such compression there is room for very little, but the little that can come forth is a very intensely concentrated. (As a corollary to that, if the stronger part of one's essence is not "good," then beware!)

So, if both expansiveness and compression have their ways of inspiring spiritual growth, it would seem that it is in the humdrum of unchanging and un-noticing daily life that spirituality is most likely to be forgotten. It is the very humdrum-ness that lulls us into ceasing to explore ourselves and our universe. We forget that there is always more, whether it is explored by expansion or by compression.

Few of us would choose the path of compression, though sometimes it is thrust upon us through circumstances beyond our control. If given our options, we would usually prefer the path of expansion. That, however, usually IS an option, and one that we need to remember is open to us. It is a choice. When we are being seduced by the familiarity and comfort of the humdrum, let us never forget the call to expansion.

Copyright Diana Robinson, Ph.D. 2001.
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