Growing to fullness
When a tank overflows, we know that it is full with its content. A glass which is filled to the brim with water and when it cannot contain anymore, the water overflows. Fullness of something, as I understand, is characterised by the overflow of its content- an unleashing of its resources; an act of giving. So fullness is not stagnation, it is being in a flow of being and doing–its being in a state of creativity or generativity. My reflection begins with this question: What is that one needs to fill in, in order to grow to that state of fullness that God wants from each of us? The answer seem to be the obvious one–growing to the fullness of more and more of Godliness and less and less of worldliness. If the reverse were true, then there would more of taking/collecting and less of giving which presumably leads to the cut throat competition, collusion, corruption, and corrosion of values and finally destruction of civilisation or humanity.
What does ‘growing into fullness’ mean for us in today’s context? We are often reminded to live a life of increased awareness of God’s presence around us and within us. In this world of consumerism, our attention is often drawn to the world of consumables, comforts, power and position. How can one continue to be in this world and yet grow in fullness or holiness? I think it requires a mindful state of doing and being. From a spiritual perspective growing in fullness calls for growth in holiness. In the gospel Jesus says, “Be holy just as my heavily Father is holy”.
St. Paul, reminds us to ‘be all things to all men and women’ (1 Cor 9:19-23). From a psychospiritual perspective, to become the kind of person that Paul is asking each of us to become—“full” of grace or resourceful, we need to grow in all the four dimensions that constitute development of a human person. These dimensions include: physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. Growth as a human person is a holistic integration of body, mind and spirit. For someone who has been weighed down by his or her emotional experiences of the past, it will be very difficult for him or her to grow spiritually. Emotional growth is ipso facto spiritual growth. From the perspective of development of intelligence, spiritual growth is a movement toward spiritual intelligence.
Ken Wilber, writer on transpersonal psychology and integral theory places humans as a link in the ‘great chain of being’—that we are part of an interdependent system. Hence our experience of happiness, our God experience lies in experiencing the happiness of our fellow human, even all sentient being. Since we are in this interdependent state of being, we are pained and troubled by the pains and struggles of others. Hence our God experience/experience of fullness, should impel us to be more, and more ‘other-oriented’ and often posing this question to ourselves, “what more can I do for the other?” From a humanistic and psychological perspective this strong need to reach out to the other stems from our empathic attunment with the sufferings of the other or the compassion we feel for the other. Studies show that empathy is the corner stone of spiritually evolved people and without empathy it’s difficult for anyone to evolve spiritually either.
Our vocation to religious life is a call to ‘give’ and to be holy. As we grow in fullness/holiness, the intention to give becomes stronger. In this state of God experience we’re in touch with the field of intention, field of all possibilities, there is an overflow of things willed by the divine wisdom—whereby we create things, make things happen. We become forgiving, merciful, compassionate, truthful, knowing the truth, discerning the will of God, enjoying the ‘isness’ of life, giving totally, being creative or generative. This is the state of happiness Pope Francis speaks about; “To be happy is to find strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, and security in the stage of fear, love in discord. Being happy is not being afraid of your own feelings. It is to be able to talk about it. To be happy is to live the creature that lives in each of us, free, joyful and simple’.
Opposite of giving or being generous is being selfish or stagnant according to Erickson. Stagnant individuals are selfish—they hoard things, go after pelf, power, and position, material things— these in the Maslowian hierarchy of needs are very basic in nature. A religious person who is stuck at this material consciousness is a stagnant individual. He overcompensates his material need deficits, at the expense of the happiness of the other. This is selfishness. So the evils such as pride, jealousy, lust, greed, deceit etc., get perpetuated in our society.
God experience or an experience of fullness is an experience of deep silence. An agitated person is a disturbed person—his or her mind is cluttered with things of the past or the future—which includes images, memories, negative emotional experiences of the past and worrying and sometimes catastrophizing predictions of the future. Present-centred awareness according to mindfulness practitioners, is a thoughtless state of mind, which is an experience of deep silence. In Buddhist tradition, space and silence are synonymous. Joy, fulfillment brings the silence. Desire for things brings noise. Silence is the cure, because in silence we come back to the source, and that creates joy. This is what Mother Teresa has to say on silence: “The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is peace. “. She goes on to say, “… we need silence to touch souls or touch lives “. Holy Scriptures make it very loud and clear, “Words end where truth begins.”