This is the third of three posts in which I’ve been listing 10 ways to make writing your spiritual path. Today, I’ll conclude with the final 4.
Writing to Alter Consciousness
“For centuries, saints, prophets, and ordinary people from many traditions have shared nearly identical experiences in which the qualities of everyday life are transformed, the boundaries of the self seem to fall away, and a kind of transcendent understanding arises.” – Writing as a Sacred Path.
Sometimes called “mystic union,” these transformational experiences engage an immediate, intuitive awareness of the Universe and of the Oneness of all things.
There is a long list of writers who have described altered states of consciousness that are very similar to those of mystics, including Rabindranath Tagore, Hafez, Jalaluddin Rumi, Rupa Bhawani, Alfred Tennyson, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Walt Whitman, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Percy Bysshe Shelley and, more recently, Sekou Sundiata, Gary Snyder, Brenda Hillman, and Jane Hirschfield.
“I believe writing is a search for Oneness,” says spiritual teacher Jackie Crovetto. “In writing, we transcend duality. We become one with the page, with the words, with the story or poem. We become one with the reader and, ultimately with all human beings and the Universe. For me, this is the most spiritual aspect of the writing process.” (Qtd. in “The Unknown She” by Hilary Hart).
Writing for Discernment
In traditional religions “discernment” is the ability to distinguish good from evil, truth from falsehood.
In some traditions, discernment is a “spiritual gift”: a natural, almost instinctive talent—something you are born with. But, while there may be people gifted with the natural ability to know what is true and what is not, most of us have to work at it. That’s where writing comes in.
Writing about an issue, a problem, a feeling, or a relationship is an excellent way to get underneath the surface, to sort out what is real from from is not, to come to a clearer understanding of the motives, influences, and emotions guiding events.
The raw material of writing is truth. Few things can better help you discover what is true and what is false in your own life than writing.
Writing as Affirmation
I am going to be honest here: I do not believe repeating words makes them come true. I say that because many highly spiritual people do—including such wise and smart people as Deepak Chopra—and I’m perfect willing to agree to disagree on this one.
But I also believe that affirmations as statements of truth, belief, hope, and blessing are deeply important to personal growth. When we make a statement of affirmation—such as, “I always choose the path of love”—we draw our attention to the choices we make, to the way we walk through the world. We solidify our intentions—and we literally alter the way our brains work.
Writing can go beyond the simple one-sentence affirmation. Painting your affirmative statements on the wider canvas of poetry or prose deepens their value, expands their influence, and helps them settle into our lives and the lives of others.
Writing as Community
“Communion, association, fellowship, sharing, contribution, partnership” (From Rebuild Journal). These are among the words used in traditional religions to express the relationship among members.
In this age, when many of us are sole practitioners with only very loose ties to spiritual organizations—or none at all—the issue of community is especially relevant.
Writers who fail to see the role of community-building in their work are missing one of the great blessings of the writing life. Your writing community includes everyone who reads your work—whether that’s just a handful of friends or millions of fans. It includes your Tuesday-night writing group, the authors whose blogs you read and comment on, those whose books you devour, and the ones you know through social networks. Your writing community can include writers of other eras and cultures, too, for you share a common bond with them.
Creating and sustaining community is part of what writing is all about—an essential ingredient to a joyful, fulfilling writing life.
Here they are: Meditation, prayer, questioning, gratitude, comfort, good works, consciousness, discernment, affirmation, community. 10 essential ways you can make writing your spiritual path. But this list isn’t exhaustive. There are a plethora of other ways writing and spirituality can intersect.
If you engage writing as part of your spiritual life, or use techniques from the world’s wisdom teachings to deepen your writing process, share your story here!
Causes Jill Jepson Supports
Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, Interational Society for the Protection of Burros and Mustangs, National Wildlife Federation,...