How should we measure spiritual progress and depth? What concepts and words do we have to describe qualities of spirit? The biblical tradition (as in Galatians 5:22) suggests that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Some may dispute this, I suppose, but on the whole most people would see these qualities as good.
But the problem as always comes with overuse – words losing their meaning. As they become clichéd the potential to experience G-d diminishes. Besides, G-d must be definition be much larger than 9 words. So, let double that – here are 9 more, largely unsung virtues which I would hope will expand our vision of who G-d could be in and through us.
1. Curiosity – The key to knowing and learning, and something we tend to loose as we settle into adult safety.
2. Imagination and creativity – I have felt for some time now that faith and imagination are converging into the same thing. Imagination expands, it generates, and it is key to anyone’s being a co-creator with G-d.
3. Generosity – Not so much to do with giving, but with giving room, opening to those dissimilar to ourselves, and acknowledging that we need each other, and that no one POV has a monopoly. Think Bishop Tutu, Leonard Cohen.
4. Humor – Not just a trivial nice-to-have but a core element of healthy spirituality.
5. Paradox – Appreciation for mystery, ambivalence is a key to understanding the spirit, whose ways are mysterious and who will never be defined by a single point of reference.
6. Subversion – The active and ongoing deconstruction of that which inhibits the spirit, this takes the familiar and twists it forcing rethinking and reevaluation.
7. Play – The mode of being which is freed from goal-orientedness and often resulting in humor and happy accident. To the musician, play is work.
8. Sustainability – This applies not only to economics – long(er) term planetary growth, justice – sharing of resources, but also to righteousness – in right relationship with all that is – a model of spirit which holds true in the short medium and long term.
9. Enthusiasm / Passion – The Key to all creative Human endeavor. Nothing is ever achieved without enthusiasm. The basis for love and compassion, which is a force combining will, awareness, truth, everything.
So go forth, and be ye Curious.