“In the Middle of Things: The Spirituality of Everyday Life”
In the Middle of Things: The Spirituality of Everyday Life (tellwell, 2016) is a collection of reflective essays focusing on common questions and paradoxes that are part of living in the light of our common, natural spirituality.
Because it understands spirituality as a human capacity for finding meaning in the events of our everyday lives (rather than adhering to a specific religious or philosophical tradition), the book draws on ideas from a wide variety of sources. In addition to wisdom from our world’s major religious traditions, it embraces the insights of many authors writing from historical, philosophical, artistic, and scientific viewpoints.
The book also assumes that philosophical reflection is not an abstract or theoretical exercise: it is a natural and ultimately very practical aspect of everyday life, a way of expressing our fundamental humanity. Throughout the book, reflecting on everyday life is always a kind of involvement that relies on more than our intellects: it brings into play our emotions, our experiences and aspirations, and perhaps most importantly, the mysterious sense we all have of being participants in a reality that transcends what we can know and experience at any given moment. So, when we pay close attention to the ideas and events that occupy us in our everyday lives, we are giving expression to our nature as persons capable of spiritual insight, that is, capable of seeing beyond the objective facts of our experiences into the heart of what gives them meaning.
In keeping with the spirit of a wonderful book by Pierre Hadot (1922-2010), Philosophy as a Way of Life (1995), In the Middle of Things is not a book that puts forward a specific method or teaching. Rather, it is intended as a way of stimulating readers to delve into their own lives in ways that bring them closer to the source of their own deepest meanings, which in turn brings them closer to the fundamental unity to which everyone and everything belongs.
Table of Contents
Preface: Common Ground
Part One: QUESTIONS THAT BRING US TOGETHER
Question 1 Do We Already Have What We Need?
Question 2 Why Are There Spiritual Experiences?
Question 3 What Do We Belong To?
Question 4 Why Do Images Penetrate Us More Deeply Than Thoughts?
Question 5 Are We Born To Be Good?
Question 6 Why Do We Get in Our Own Way So Often?
Question 7 Why Is There Always More Than Meets the Eye?
Question 8 Why Is an End Always a Beginning?
Part Two: SEEING WITH THE EYES OF PARADOX
Paradox 1 Light in Darkness: Seeing with Eyes of Faith
Paradox 2 Complete by Being Incomplete: Living with the Heart of a Small Child
Paradox 3 Strength in Weakness: Embodying Fundamental Power
Paradox 4 Freedom in Necessity: The Creativity of Submission
Paradox 5 Extraordinary Ordinariness: The Art of Always Belonging
Paradox 6 Life in Death: Sustaining the Journey of Unconditional Love
Afterword: Uniqueness Unfolding in Unity
Book available at Indigo Chapters and Amazon
For a review: See Troymedia website.
“Born into Unity: Embracing Our Common Spirituality”
The more readily you plumb the question “Who or what am I?” the more unavoidable is the realization that you are nothing at all apart from everything else.
Alan Watts (1015–1973)
Like the previous book, “Born into Unity: Embracing our Common Spirituality” (FriesenPress, 2018) is a collection of essays intended as a catalyst for reflection. It assumes that nothing is as basic as unity and interdependence. Anything that happens is a unique expression of elements flowing from the wholeness of reality, so the fundamental context within which events occur is a wholeness or ultimate unity and the interdependency implied by existing in this unity. When we embrace unity and interdependency, we are embracing our most authentic, life-enhancing source of insight and inspiration, which is why we can refer to this embrace as our common, natural spirituality.
Many aspects of living in today’s highly technologized environments urge us to adopt an independent, me-first or us-first orientation towards life. We can see this mindset operating in social/cultural, economic, political, educational, and even religious settings. Given this situation, there is an urgent need to draw attention to the interdependence that empowers all life-enhancing relationships. Born into Unity addresses this concern by speaking about our common spirituality in a multi-faceted way, which draws from many streams of religious, philosophical, academic, and artistic insight.
In Part One, the book points to three universally relevant challenges related to human development: putting our togetherness first; learning from everything; and living in a genuinely present-centered way. In Part Two, it discusses three paradoxes that act as catalysts for living in spiritually enlightened ways: the wisdom of not-knowing (that is, accepting that we belong to an ineffable, but infinitely meaningful reality); living in the “freedom” of being-of-service; and experiencing solitude as a “coming-together” of oneself with the wholeness of life. Finally, in Part Three, it focuses on three universally-treasured consolations associated with human spirituality: hope, understood as experiencing infinite life in the here-and-now, rather than in a possible future; faith, understood as the courage to live beyond the normal boundaries of our thoughts and feelings; and love, understood as our way of being “in tune” with the ultimate power of life, a power that simultaneously fulfills us as individuals and unites us with the whole of reality.
Born into Unity is not written from the vantage point of a specific religious tradition, nor does it offer a theoretical framework or “how-to” methodology for understanding the ideas it discusses. Instead, it springs from a philosophically inclusive mindset that seeks to challenge, energize, and encourage readers to reflect on the events of their lives by trusting their unique personal endowments and innate capacity for living as interdependent persons. The belief here is that, when we act authentically as human persons, with the full powers of human consciousness, we act interdependently, for the good of everyone and everything, as co-creators of ourselves and our world.
Our freedom as creators finds its highest joy in contributing its own voice in the concert of the world-music.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
Available at FriesenPress, and Amazon, and Indigo/Chapters.