What is necessary for spiritual growth?
The same things are necessary for spiritual growth that are necessary for all natural growth. Resources, space, and evolution.
Resources for sustenance are, fortunately, present in abundance for everyone, when it comes to spirit. You don’t need money, you don’t need books, and you don’t even need a deity or a teacher. They’re nice to have, but you can grow spiritually even without them, so they aren’t what is necessary.
A world brimming with life, and a universe brimming with magnificent wonders is resource enough to fill you to bursting with spirit. There is so much to be a part of, and so much that can become part of you, in this home we arose from. We never lack for something or someone to connect with and form relationships with. Spirit is found in those relationships and connections. The joy that blooms… even the quiet, comforting certainty (or comfort of making peace with uncertainty)… from the flow of spirit through the branches of connection brings easy growth. Add additional resources like teachers, books, etc. and you can choose what direction to grow in, and gather plenty of knowledge and wisdom you can also apply to your growth and the growth of others you are connected with.
Animals grow by adding more cells to the body, while plants do that AND increase the size of their cells by filling them with water. We can add more connections to our core, and like our plant kin, we can also add sustenance to our existing core and connections and stretch them into new dimensions, giving all kinds of possibility to the shaping of our spiritual lives. Possibility as can be observed in the world, where many types of religion have thrived in human cultures – some with deities and some without, some focused on belief or cosmology, and others on practice or other aspects. There is no one “correct” way. Diversity is one of the wonders of the way Mother Nature works. So whatever nourishes your spirit, seek that.
Space in which to grow is another necessity. People need the freedom to engage with their own spirituality and ways of doing religion (or choosing not to). Theocracies and other forms of religious oppression stifle the natural processes of spirituality, growth, and individual and cultural progress.
Sometimes a religion itself can become oppressive, demanding that its adherents only grow and shape themselves in certain ways. That may involve growth, and perhaps it can be lovely like a bonsai tree, but each person should have a true choice about whether they want to be shaped that way by their religion, or whether they want to choose their own shape and have freedom to branch in any direction that might call to them as they grow.
Personal space or time carved out of your routine just for spirituality is also helpful. Even just paying attention to your spirituality or spiritual matters is making space for them, and room for them to grow and change. Physical space can be important, too – temple, shrine, a quiet place to meditate, and even roaming out into the beautiful world so you can meet new places and beings, and increase your knowledge, experience, and wisdom. Even inner-space can be an infinite place to explore, with human creativity generating and discovering pretty much anything.
Evolution is simply change over time. A static state is not growth, is not life, and is not how our universe works. There is always movement and change, even when it doesn’t appear to be so on the scale that we humans are able to observe.
Being open to change and new directions and new configurations of self and community is necessary for growth, because how would growth be possible without change?
“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” ~Frank Zappa
So an open mind and heart are necessary for growth. Sticking to a prescription in a strict manner isn’t growth, it’s just a process, just a shaping mold to grow into (or out of). Prescriptions are often for something that has worked before, or for sharing best-practices thus far, but there’s often more than one way that works. Finding new ones IS a best practice, when practical. Being curious and willing to explore is necessary if you’re going to grow beyond what you think you know… what you think everyone knows… what you think everyone should know… what everyone has told you that you should know. Try NOT knowing it, and see what happens. You might be surprised. And if you are open and love truth-whatever-it-is, these surprises won’t frighten you, and you’ll get a good rooting in the soil of the world (as big and strange as it is) for growing and taking part in it, with abundant wonder, even if it surprises you less as you learn more. Or even if it surprises you more as you learn more. 😉
May we all keep growing and maturing in spirit, connecting in community, respectfully nurturing each other’s growth, and thriving in this beautiful life together.