Many of us are inclined to rebel when someone tells us what to do. We do not always take kindly to being told what is right and wrong behaviour. However, ethical living is part of spiritual healing according to the world’s spiritual traditions. That following a set of rules of conduct is conducive to spiritual growth. How does this apply to sexual relationships?
People may not be concerned about the rights and wrongs of sexual behaviour. They ask:
“Isn’t sex a basic drive that needs to be satisfied, just like hunger and thirst?”
“Isn’t sexual expression one of our inherent freedoms?”
“Isn’t sexuality a way of expressing our unique individuality?”
To answer “yes” to these questions may be correct for some but it is to miss a spiritual principle, for it ignores the idea of a growing union of mature love between two people. There are many reasons for coldness developing between a couple but one of the most damaging tends to be the sense of hurt and distrust in one partner caused by the other becoming sexually drawn to another person.
An Interpretation of Swedenborg’s Writings in Relation to Psychological and Spiritual Well-being
by Stephen Russell-Lacy. Seminar Books, 2008. 978 0 907295 36 5. (paperback) 180pp £10
“A fine little work … that will warm the hearts of the general public and all practicing Swedenborgians who are of a non-technical bent. …We find ourselves understanding a text while feeling that, at the same time, we are liberated by just reading it. This happens in many places in the narrative. Traditionalists will love the book, as it preaches the straight and narrow with regard to doctrine, but in places it almost unconsciously breaks out into a kind of semi-restrained wildness that reminds us of Swedenborg’s own mind – rational but also inward, intuitive, deep, creative, and as our British cousins are wont to say, spot on.”
“It’s a pretty comprehensive attempt to offer aid in meeting life’s many challenges. On Time Magazine’s ‘read, skim or toss’, scale for books, this is definitely a read – and keep handy for future reference.”
Some people are just harder to get on with than others. Obvious examples are those who are highly strung, aggressive or manipulative. They may need spiritual healing, but what do we need? What is the secret to avoiding unpleasant scenes with people who cause us a bit of grief from time to time? To better deal with the awkward mob?
A clue can be found in the study of social perception. Research psychologist Daniel T. Gilbert, University of Texas at Austin has pointed out:
“We may strive to see others as they really are, but all too often the charlatan wins our praise and the altruist our scorn. Juries misjudge defendants, voters misjudge candidates, lovers misjudge each other.”
Social psychologists have researched the way we see others in terms of attribution theory. This is studying how people make inferences about the causes of a person’s actions. One thing they have observed is how our expectations about how other people will behave can distort our interpretations. We may assume that the little old lady who bumps into us at the supermarket is someone with unintended poor balance whereas the tattooed hooded youth might be thought to be trying to pick our pockets. Mistaken perception can thus arise from social stereotypes, such as race, sex and age.
It’s never too late to change – or so my mother used to tell me. But I need spiritual healing as sometimes I feel I’ve missed the boat. Others have said the same thing. The more we indulge our weaknesses, the more our flaws seem to take hold; and the more we avoid those difficult challenges, the more dissatisfied with ourselves we become – and wonder whether ingrained personal habits can ever be broken.
Some of us may realise that we’ve stopped moving along our path in life. For the warning signs have appeared – a medical complaint caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, a developing coldness due to the neglect of one’s close friends, a loss of interest and energy for something we should be doing that we know deep down is important.
Not moving along life’s path is literally true for me. In my case it is a canal tow-path near my home which I should be using for much needed daily exercise. They say, ‘A healthy mind needs a healthy body’, but mine is getting to be no longer ‘fit for purpose,’ sadly through a long time of overindulgence. Sometimes I think I’m just naturally lazy and so have been quick to forget about the problem. And when I’m shaken out of my complacency, I only make an effort in stops and starts.