Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Question of ‘Spiritual Authority’

I won’t even try to hide the fact that the very idea of anybody being in a position of spiritual authority over another brings to me a feeling of great unease.  In fact I am only writing now because the term was used recently by a friend and it really took me aback when I sat down to take a quiet moment to contemplate the implications of that two word phrase.  It scares me at times to think how loosely we toss around words especially in today’s times when we seem to be on a global scale much more concerned with the thoughts and feelings that a word implies.  I was mulling it over while pouring my morning coffee and it occurred to me how often we misuse or misinterpret the words we use. 
For instance, it is often said by coffee drinkers that they need their morning coffee to wake up, but given the very real truth that if they are indeed in the process of either making or drinking the coffee then they are also already awake.  Having that morning coffee then does not in effect wake you up, nor does it help you wake up as the process of waking is quite natural to the human body and with or without that coffee it is a fact that you will still wake up and be as alert as you need to be to get on with your day.  I would say then that the real truth of it would be that the coffee is merely there to make the process of waking up seem more pleasurable and pleasant and that the coffee really is not so much needed as it is desired by us to be a part of our morning routine.  So do I say I need the coffee to help me wake up – no I say I want the coffee to make the make waking up more fun.
Such is the way of words today, and the more I write to more I realize how very important it is to understand the meaning of the words I use, so that thought and feeling are not misconstrued by others who may read my work.  As it happens I am challenged often of late on things I have written and have learned that I take great pleasure in those who would call me to task for things that I have said.  If only in that it makes me reflect on the effect that my words may have on others and encourages me to be more diligent with regards to clarify the meaning behind my words.
So while I was enjoying my morning coffee I took the time to look up the meaning of both spiritual and authority...
And came to the conclusion that nobody – absolutely nobody should ever be said to have spiritual authority over anybody but themselves...
First let’s go over the definitions... (taken from Merriam Webster on-line (smiles) any spelling mistakes there are theirs and I left them in just for the fun of it)
Definition of AUTHORITY
1 a (1) : a citation (as from a book or file) used in defense or support (2) : the source from which the citation is drawn b (1) : a conclusive statement or set of statements (as an official decision of a court) (2) : a decision taken as a precedent (3) : testimony c : an individual cited or appealed to as an expert
2 a : power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior b : freedom granted by one in authority : right
3 a : persons in command; specifically : government b : a governmental agency or corporation to administer a revenue-producing public enterprise <the transit authority>
4 a : grounds, warrant <had excellent authority for believing the claim> b : convincing force <lent authority to the performance>
Definition of SPIRITUAL
1 :of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit : incorporeal <spiritual needs>
2 a : of or relating to sacred matters <spiritual songs> b : ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal <spiritual authority> <lords spiritual>
3 : concerned with religious values
4 : related or joined in spirit <our spiritual home> <his spiritual heir>
5 a : of or relating to supernatural beings or phenomena b : of, relating to, or involving spiritualism : spiritualistic
The definitions seem to me to be pretty straight forward and as it is pretty much agreed that when discussing spirituality we are in fact discussing each individual’s deep and personal connection to the spirit it is confusing to me how in any way the word authority can be applied with regards to any other person’s connection. 
It is in my heart that somebody who is truly in tune with and in communication with spirit cannot be affected by outside influences with regards to that connection, they cannot be controlled, cannot have that connection invaded or altered, nobody else can command that connection nor can anybody else’s experience or observation interfere with that connection.  Regardless of how much I know or think I understand about my own personal journey and connection it does not mean that my knowledge pertains to the connection of another as I am not involved directly with that connection I cannot possibly be an expert on it in any way.  The other person however can most certainly be an expert on their own connection but at the same time cannot be an expert on mine. We can use our own experiences to back up our explanations of our own connection to spirit but those same experiences may not apply to somebody else’s connection as their experiences and understanding may be entirely different than ours. 
Now this is not to say that there is no value in the sharing of experience.  I often ask advice and guidance of others and have much respect for the wisdoms and teachings of those who have found themselves to be in place of true communion with the spirit within.  I value opinions, and I am open at all times to suggestions made based on personal growth and expansion.  The ultimate decision however to disregard or to honour those observations made by others through their experience lies in my hands, in my own heart and it is with that understanding that I can definitively say that no man, woman or child  may have spiritual authority over me.
I am hoping that this elicits discussion, I am hoping that this encourages debate and I am hoping that through the sharing of our thoughts and feelings about this particular subject we can further our collective understanding of it.  I am also hoping however that one very important factor is considered and weighed during that discussion.
When considering the phrase spiritual authority consider that the only one who has authority over you spiritually is your spirit and as that spirit is a HUGE part of who you are, as that spirit IS who you are then the only person who has spiritual authority over YOU is YOU....
Namaste
Jean Victoria Norloch

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