As an assignment for a seminary course, I was to create a succinct philosophy of spirituality and a personal Rule of Life. Most participants in the course are coming from a Christian perspective. Rather than redefining any specifically Christian concepts, however, I looked back to pre-Christian shamanism for an organizing principle around which to express my post-Christian, atheist, humanist beliefs.
For those who are unfamiliar with the term "Rule of Life," this is a purposeful structure of disciplines that serve to direct spiritual identity and growth. Members of a monastic community hold in common a particular Rule of Life, based upon a specific spiritual philosophy. An individual can also create a Rule of Life as a baseline of personal accountability. Some aspects of my personal Rule are specific, while others are more general. Should you be inspired to throw down your own Rule of Life, keep in mind that it only really needs to make sense to you, and it should include those things about which you realistically can hold yourself accountable.
So why share a personal Rule of Life publicly? First, I have encountered several misconceptions about atheism recently, and I think sharing this sort of information serves as a plank in the bridge of understanding. Second, I am comfortable with stating publicly those things for which I want to hold myself accountable. I do not think I will perfectly uphold the standard I have set here, but I believe it is a realistic standard to journey toward. Third, perhaps a couple of people in reading this will consider deepening their own personal philosophies of spirituality and Rules of Life, which I believe will only contribute toward a more spiritually mature world.
Philosophy of Spirituality and Personal Rule of Life
Spirituality is a journey along a four-fold path as a mystic, warrior, healer, and sage, continually moving toward personal responsibility; embracing confidence in the inherent worth and dignity of all people; exchanging irrational fears, beliefs, and vows for bold honesty; and recognizing those truths that must be taken on faith and those that may be evaluated through empirical verification.
A mystic recognizes deep truths and acts out of faith in human value and the interconnectedness of all things.
A warrior stands calm in the face of challenges, confronting irrational fear and injustice in self and in the world.
A healer demonstrates compassion, acts as peace-maker, creates beauty, and speaks difficult truths gently.
A sage constantly learns with an open mind and continually refines beliefs in the face of additional knowledge.
Personal Rule of Life
Recognizing that I can choose in every moment to be intentional in my thoughts and actions—that each moment has the potential to be sacred if I make it so—I journey toward fully inhabiting my capability, creativity, and compassion, inspiring others around me to do the same. Through embracing a four-fold path as mystic, warrior, healer, and sage, I sharpen myself and those around me, and I create a better reality in partnership with the world.
- I see the inherent worth and dignity of all people, including myself, engaging in times of introspection to remain connected to my deepest, most noble self.
- I bear witness to the interconnectedness of all things, trusting that my bold and authentic actions will have a meaningful impact beyond what I can see.
- I bring forward my natural impishness and humor as a vessel for truth and enlightenment.
- I dismantle irrational fears and supernaturalism in myself, and I confront irrational fears and supernaturalism as hear-ably as possible when they are expressed by others.
- I stand for justice and equality for all people in my words and actions, including contributing my time and energy to (a) support the efforts of others who are working to better themselves and break systemic cycles of poverty, and (b) create a more accepting and equitable environment for those of minority sexual orientations.
- I am a calm, deeply grounded presence, secure in my own sense of self and comfortable with my vulnerability.
- I am available to others, to listen and validate primarily, and to advise when requested.
- I create beauty through music to contribute to a more harmonious world.
- I allow people to fully express their beliefs and feelings without making them wrong, separating dangerous and irrational fears from the beautiful and worthy person who holds them.
- I allow myself to be challenged by other perspectives, without assuming that only one must be right and all others wrong, thus allowing for a multiplicity of paths toward peace and equity.
- I read credible authors and researchers to continually deepen and broaden my understanding of people and the world.
- I proclaim without attachment what is so for me and what is true by virtue of empirical evidence.