Spiritual Appetite: Craving for the Mercy of God

Divine Craving & the Mercy of God

Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God’s mercy and His love for humanity. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved. [St. John Chrysostom].

Mercy is an attribute that God has imposed upon Himself. From it, the penitent soul receives an inspired passion that leads to a life dedicated to God. This godly life protects the soul against overwhelming fear and despair.

For by Grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. [Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)].

We must not underestimate the power of lust. But, even more important, we must understand how the soul can overcome it. Our ability to moderate and overpower lust depends solely on the mercy of God. It is God’s mercy that provides an escape from our depravity.

And when those who believe in Our messages come unto thee, say: “Peace be upon you. Your Sustainer has willed upon Himself the law of grace and mercy – so that if any of you does a bad deed out of ignorance, and thereafter repents and lives righteously, He shall be [found] much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace.” [Quran 6:54]

Divine Craving

Our natural disposition is to want, desire, crave. To be passive, without passion or ambition, leaves us unfulfilled. Our sadness, unhappiness and frustrations are all related to our inability to have what we want. proverbs15-14a

Moreover, the absence of a defined purpose, the lack of meaning in our life, leads to melancholia, dejection, depression, despondency, gloominess.

There is a joy which is not given to the ungodly, but to those who love Thee for Thine own sake, whose joy Thou Thyself art. And this is the happy life, to rejoice to Thee, of Thee, for Thee; this it is, and there is no other. [Confessions, Saint Augustine, XXII].

Without this divinely inspired enthusiasm, all personal resolutions, self-help programs and religious rituals are ineffective in conquering lust. Only the infinite and eternal mercy of God can transform us.

If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. God did not create you for this. There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. I invite you to turn from the dulling effects of food and the dangers of idolatry, and to say with some simple fast: “This much, O God, I want you.” [John Piper, A Hunger for God, p. 23].

 No Place for Lust

In the very act of seeking God, we have evidence of His mercy working within us. It is a sign of Grace, for which we have hoped and waited.

Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” [Quran 39:53]Mercy-street-sign2

This longing for God brings our mind into submission to the Divine Will.  When we surrender our soul in humble penance, we align our thoughts with the Divine Mind, where carnal lust finds no place.

We implore the mercy of God, not that He may leave us at peace in our vices, but that He may deliver us from them. [Blaise Pascal].

Breaking Lust

We break with the world of lustful craving in exchange for being bonded to God. We find ourselves out of sync with the secular and in step with the sacred.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, Lordlisten to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me. [Psalm 86].

With a sincere and fervent longing for God within us, our worldview shifts from the transient toward the eternal. We begin to see life differently. We no longer seek physical pleasure to satisfy our desires, nor carnal pleasure to satisfy our lust.

Call unto your Sustainer humbly, and in the secrecy of your hearts. Verily, He loves not those who transgress the bounds of what is right: hence, do not spread corruption on earth after it has been so well ordered. And call unto Him with fear and longing: verily, God’s grace is ever near unto the doers of good! [Quran 7:55-6].

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Wanting God

A hermit meditating by a river was interrupted by a young man: “Master, I wish to become your disciple,” said the man. “Why?” replied the hermit. The young man thought for a moment. “Because I want to find God.”

The master grabbed him by the neck, and plunged his head under water. After holding him there a few moments, kicking and struggling, the master let him up. The young man coughed up water ahogado2and gasped to get his breath. When he quieted down, the master spoke. “Tell me, what did you want most of all when you were under water.”

“Air!” answered the young man.

“Very well,” said the master. “Go home and come back to me when you want God as much as you just wanted air.” [Unknown author]

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Nutrition & Your Mind: Faith, Emotions & Healing

Emotions, Nutrition & Faith

Worship is the believer’s response of all that he is – mind, emotions, will, and body – to all that God is and says and does. This response has its mystical side in subjective experience, and its practical side in objective obedience to God’s revealed truth. It is a loving response that is balanced by the fear of the Lord, and it is a deepening response as the believer comes to know God better. [Warren Wiersbe, Real Worship, p. 26].

Emotions, nutrition and faith are closely related. Healthy emotions support healthy physiological and psychological states. Positive emotions, such as compassion, generosity and love, reduce stress and thereby help the cardiovascular, respiratory and parasympathetic nervous systems.

Hormones are the mediating agents on which our emotions depend. They impact how our body functions and also play a central role in our psychological health.

Through hormonal communications and interactions, our emotions affect food intake, absorption, assimilation, biosynthesis, catabolism and excretion.

Our emotions and our immune system are also intertwined. Research studies have confirmed that depression accelerates development of cancer and heart disease. For example, the immune systems of individuals who are chronically stressed display abnormally lower levels of natural killer cells, lymphocytes, and T-helper cells. [See: Diet, Stress, and Emotions: The Mind-Body-Diet Connection].Qexec-grass

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)].

Bitter Thoughts Make a Bitter Life

By being thoughtless of others, we easily fall into detrimental habits that hinder our spiritual development. Harboring bitterness, enmity and hostility toward family, friends and fellow-workers harms our own souls and ultimately impairs our health.

Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be whole, all the body is whole and which, if it be diseased, all of it is diseased. Truly it is the heart. [Forty Hadith, an-Nawawi #6].

By asking forgiving when we are unkind to others and by forgiving those who show unkindness to us, we cultivate salutary habits that nourish our spirit and promote good health.

We should not delay or avoid reconciliation. Instead, we should make the first move, taking the first step toward restoring friendship and trust in one another.

Whoever, by a good deed, covers the evil done, such a one illumines this world like the moon freed from clouds. [Dhammapada 173].

Emotions  & Digestion

A particle of food does not provide the same amount of nourishment under all conditions. Our body is not always disposed to process food in the same way. Our physical and mental states have considerable influence on how food nourishes us.

Our digestive system is affected by our emotions in many ways. Many emotional responses involve the release of hormones (e.g., adrenaline, cortisol) that trigger involuntary reactions.

Our emotions can also cause changes in your digestive system, including lack of appetite, heartburn, nausea and stomach pains. They can also affect the assimilation of nutrients.

People want to feel good and feel God, and the way to get there is through the emotions. They’re the link that connects body to soul, and as such, they’re the key to transforming anything, everything. [Candace Pert, Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d,  p. 28].

Since our spirituality affects our emotions, it also affects the manner in which we absorb nutrients. As a car gets poor gas mileage from a poorly tuned engine, so does a spiritually imbalanced person squander nutritionally healthy food.eating-on-the-run4

Can then one who is on a clear (Path) from his Lord be likened unto one to whom the evil of his own doings [always] seems goodly, and unto such as would follow their own lusts? [Quran 47:14].

Psychological Labyrinth

We can try to manipulate our emotions through dietary regimens. Certain foods can provide temporary emotional comfort by increasing blood sugar and serotonin levels in our brain.

But, diet is a limited and uncertain tool for controlling emotions. Ultimately, only our spirituality offers an established process for attending to our emotions and, thereby, improving our health.

A person whose mind is unperturbed by sorrow, who does not crave pleasures, and who is completely free from attachment, fear, and anger, is called an enlightened sage of steady intellect. [Bhagavad Gita 2:56].

Every lurid thought is a potential distraction leading away from remembrance of God. Moreover, such thoughts can group themselves and become persuasive emotions leading to uncontrolled desires. When fully armed, they become passions that penetrate deep into your inner consciousness producing a psychological labyrinth most difficult to escape.woman-drinking - bowl2

Whatever is done without faith, whether it is sacrifice, charity, austerity, or any other act is useless. It has no value here or hereafter …  [Bhagavad Gita 17.28].

Spiritual Nutrition

Our intentions mold the spirit underlying our thoughts. We may have evil intentions, charitable intentions, or simply act without giving much thought to what we are doing.

In any case, our moral and spiritual beliefs are spread at the base of our intentions, lining our thoughts. Given adequate authority, these beliefs control our purpose and keep us from negative thoughts and regrettable deeds.

 

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. [Psalm 37:4-8 (NIV)].

Mental & Spiritual Equilibrium

Our mental equilibrium reflects our spiritual disposition. Thinking well of our rivals, remembering God often and bringing to mind our own faults and weaknesses produce healthy physiological and physiological states.

A good practice is to pray for those with whom we are angry or toward whom we feel bitterness. When negativity begins seeping into our thought process, stop it with good thoughts and a humble prayer.

It is wonderful how the exercise of one’s will … will eventuate in the correct emotions. Determining to wish that person’s good; deliberately trying to do something loving for him; and praying for him – all this will some day bring about the emotion of love itself. [Isobel Kuhn, Ascent to the Tribes].

Always be ready to help others. Being predisposed to goodness means that we carry it around with us. It becomes our habit, a way of life, and part of our spiritual immune system.

The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend. And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint,- none but persons of the greatest good fortune. [Quran 41:33-35].

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Your Pride and Joy: Thinking Outside the Mirror

Wise in Our Own Eyes

I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. [Romans 12:3].

The depths of our consciousness harbor smothered thoughts filled with joy, wisdom and understanding — but there is a covering over them. They have been buried under piles of pride, arrogance and egotism.

Greedily, we hunger for higher consciousness, hoping it leads us to fame, wealth and prominence. We avidly covet precious thoughts of enlightenment. But, such craving only buries them deeper.

Indulging our pride, we run after every fleeting image. How odd that being so unimportant we cultivate such grand illusions. [Rumi].

Spotlighting Darkness

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Much joy is hidden right under our own ego. To reach it, we must first peel off the many layers of illusions and fantasies clouding our mind.

We blind ourselves to Divine consciousness by following our selfish own appetite, seeking personal recognition and hoarding material possessions.

And turn not thy cheek away from people in [false] pride, and walk not haughtily on earth: for, behold, God does not love anyone who, out of self-conceit, acts in a boastful manner. Hence, be modest in thy bearing, and lower thy voice: for, behold, the ugliest of all voices is the [loud] voice of asses… [Quran 31:18-19].

We must examine our thoughts, purify them, and submit them to Divine scrutiny. We must then remove the diseased crust of hubris hardening our heart and blocking God’s light.

Our lust for the life of this world turns us away from spiritual awareness, and veils us in the darkness of desires and delusions. Remove the veil and with clarity we see the delight of an enlightened soul.

True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads? [Plato, The Republic].

Pallbearers of the Soul

Realizing our total dependence on God makes us independent of the rest of creation. Recognizing our sacred stature in a Divine Reality elevates us beyond the limitations of human existence.

Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind … As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you. [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity].

We mold our self so it conforms to the image most acceptable to society. However, our reliance on social acceptance stunts our spiritual growth and inhibits our consciousness of the Divine.pallbearers

Pride is the king of vices…it is the first of the pallbearers of the soul … other vices destroy only their opposite virtues, as wantonness destroys chastity; greed destroys temperance; anger destroys gentleness; but pride destroys all virtues. [Fulton Sheen].

Technological trinkets, trending fads and fashionable lifestyles can be readily discarded, but their remnants accumulate, stifling wisdom and understanding.

The ego must be trained, disciplined and mastered by a spiritual diet and devotional exercises. The appetite must learn to be satisfied by Divine nourishment.

When we are beset by any particular vice, it is well as far as possible to make the opposite virtue our special aim, and turn everything to that account…. Thus, if I am beset with pride or anger, I must above all else strive to cultivate humility and gentleness, and I must turn all my religious exercises, — prayer, sacraments, prudence, constancy, moderation, to the same object. [St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, Ch. 1].

Humility Melts Hubris

Humility melts our hubris, dissolving the rust lining our heart, and opening our consciousness to the sacred. It releases powerful thoughts that act as enzymes to decompose the debris accumulated by prodigal existence.jesus-washing -feet2

Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good – above all, that we are better than someone else – I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether. [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity].

The frailty of our physical condition is spotlighted by humility. It exposes the fallacy of reliance on personal strength and intellect to achieve ultimate joy. By recognizing our inherent weaknesses, misguided zeal and overestimated powers, we begin to see the self beyond our mirror.

Be humble, be harmless. Have no pretension. Be upright, forbearing. Serve your teacher in true obedience, keeping the mind and body in cleanness, tranquil, steadfast, master of ego, standing apart from the things of the senses, free from self; aware of the weakness in mortal nature. [Bhagavad Gita 13:7-8].

Reflecting Humility

Submission to God offers tranquility to the anxious soul. It calms the spirit with the balm of humility and heals perverted self-esteem produced by egotistical pride. We can enjoy and benefit from our good fortune only when we continually recognize and acknowledge our subservience to our Creator.

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight! [Isaiah 5:21 (KJV)].

Being humble is an attitude that keeps us near to God. When our ego exalts us, humility provides the necessary balance. When pride distorts our selfish desires, humility provides a true mirror for self-reflection.

And walk not on earth with haughty self-conceit: for, verily, thou canst never rend the earth asunder, nor canst thou ever grow as tall as the mountains! [Quran 17:37].

The mercy of God extends over all. May it tame our vanity and free us from the darkness of pride. May God remove our short-sighted arrogance, and guide us to the abode of light.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. [Philippians 2:3-4].

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