Spiritual Maturity

Starting in September, we’ll spend a year going over the qualities of Spiritual Maturity as defined by Rev. Kendyl Gibbons. These are the things she says every person needs to grow spiritually and see the world for it’s profound meaning. Rev. Kendyl is one of the nation’s leading Humanists and teachers on religious thinking that accommodates both supernaturalism and rationalism. She’s excited we are taking this on and may use what we discover in exploring this topics for her upcoming book!

Sophrosyne is the name of one of the cardinal virtues of ancient Greek philosophy; the fruit of the injunction “Know thyself.”  It is the quality of self-awareness and self-control; intentionality in the pursuit of deliberate purpose. ‘Temperance’ is a frequent, but in my opinion poor, translation.

Reverence contains the qualities of gratitude and generosity, a thankfulness for life even if it has no recipient, as well as an awareness of honor and shame, and the risk of idolatry if our reverence is given to what is unworthy.

Surrender, which in many traditions is connected to the will of god, in my of thinking has to do with remembering our finitude; that we do not run the universe, and do not need to, as well as giving up the notion of controlling reality through wishful thinking, but submitting to evidence and facts.

Complexity, Intensity, Ambiguity come together to invite our capacity to embrace the whole of our experience, both joy and suffering, because they are ultimately inseparable, and to recognize that the universe is often larger than the categories of our understanding, and not as simple as we wish.

Tonglen is a term from Buddhist practice, which refers to the ability compassionately to stay with someone who is experiencing pain, without needing to run away, to become numb, or to impose our own ideas of how to fix it.  This person, of course, may also be ourselves.

Order is the place where the good and the beautiful meet; the spiritually mature person prefers both moral and aesthetic orderliness, in the form of justice, and natural as well as human-created beauty, and also cherishes acts of mercy and reconciliation as beautiful.

Tshuvah is a Jewish term for repentance, or the capacity to acknowledge mistakes, to change or reverse a course that isn’t getting where we want to go, and to offer and accept forgiveness.

Leadership calls the spiritually mature person to offer service to their community uncorrupted by ego, power, or approval-seeking when their leadership is needed, as well as to be supportive but not uncritical followers of other’s leadership.

Covenant points to the ability to make and keep meaningful promises, to shape one’s life around conscious core commitments, and to redeem them even when we do not always live up to them.

Mitake Oyasin is a Lakota invocation meaning “All my relatives”; it calls for attention to the inextricable interrelatedness of our existence, and taking responsibility for our impact, both intentional and unintended, upon that web of human community and the natural universe, past and present.

Memento Mori comes from the medieval Christian philosophical tradition; it involves a continual awareness and acceptance of one’s own inevitable death, as well as the mortality of all that we do and love.

Metaphor refers to the skill with which the spiritually mature person can discover the truth of their own human experience expressed in myths, rituals and vocabularies of other religious traditions, as well as awareness of how metaphor functions in their own chosen or inherited faith.