In the memoir Eat, Pray, Love, writer Elizabeth Gilbert gives up her entire way of life to spend a year traveling the world, finding spiritual enlightenment along the way. Julia Roberts, who plays Gilbert’s character in the movie version out this week, apparently found enlightenment of her own through the role, revealing that she has become a practicing Hindu.
As Joan Ball asks in a Guest Voices post, “Is it possible to live a life of deep, transformational faith without dropping everything and hitting the road?”
In your tradition, what is the aim of the spiritual journey?
In answering this question I can’t speak for anyone other than myself. No matter what religion or culture you belong to, I believe that each person’s spiritual journey is ultimately between that person and God.
So as an individual Christian Scientist, what is my aim for my spiritual journey?
Well, I’d have to go back a few years, a few decades actually, to a time when I was really wrestling with my career. It wasn’t going anywhere. Not because I wasn’t good at it. I was. Not that I wasn’t willing to be patient with it. I was. But I wasn’t sure it was fulfilling enough.
I was a recording engineer. I worked in a studio recording music for albums and commercial interests. I loved the art of taking raw sounds and mixing them together into a more satisfying, beautiful sound. But the show business of the industry was weighing on me. And even at its best, even while I was enjoying the beauty of the music, I felt deep inside there was something else I needed to be doing with my life.
So I prayed about my aim in life. What was the goal of my spiritual journey? Should I tough it out and accept the lot in life I had been given or be receptive to a new path? I wasn’t trying to wish for something or to just get what I wanted. I was seeking a sense of divine will. What does God want for me? It was a time of mental wrestling that included humility, self-examination and considering new possibilities.
I discovered that the simple act of praying this way brought about huge changes. This was a pivotal time in my life which taught me many lessons, even brought healings, and resulted in my present career in the healing practice of Christian Science.
Throughout my life, whenever I’ve prayed for a better life, a more meaningful spiritual journey, a couple of results have always emerged: A better understanding of and closer relationship to God, and a deeper love for and yearning to help others.
Even though I feel every spiritual journey is unique, there are shared goals. I know the goal of loving God and mankind more is shared by many. And the suffering in this world along with its secularization and materialism tell me that for prayer to be effective it must be more than a mere philosophy for living, limited to self-help or feel-good meditation. The answer to the prayer that brought deeper meaning, purpose, and health to my life comes with a demand to bless others in the same way. I yearn to see what I know to be true be more globally felt and utilized.