Four Spiritual Paths: Have it Your Way

Who hasn't wondered, "How far am I on the spiritual path? Am I on the right path?" The general answers given to us by our spiritual teachers typically fall short of satisfying us. Individual knowledge of ourselves and our spiritual needs is a rare find. Specific answers are found in Peter Tufts Richardson's new book, Four Spiritualities: Expressions of Self, Expressions of Spirit (Davies-Black Publishing).

There are similarities in religions that enabled Richardson to place them in four categories: journeys of unity, devotion, works and harmony. One of the four more closely meets the needs of our innate personality preferences. The combination of our inclinations to be intuitive or concrete, or whether we usually follow our heart or our head, is an expression of the personality type. Match the journeys with the personality and you have the design of the best path for an individual.

The Journey of Unity attracts intuitive thinkers. The teachings of Buddha, for example, include a list of questions the Buddhist is to answer logically until the mind is peaceful. Buckminster Fuller went into silence for two years to discover his own original thinking about God and creation. This journey is a path of intellectual analysis leading to unity.

The Journey of Devotion is the way of people who like a tangible display of reverance. This is a hands-on path of beauty and ritual. Mohammed, a man of this type, gave detailed prescription for the daily prayers. Our cathedrals and temples are also built by this personality type.

The Journey of Work belongs to the concrete thinkers. Duty and responsibility are key words for this type. The leader Moses, with his covenant and laws, is a good example. Confucius, with his vision for Chinese civilization, is another. This path, followed by the largest percentage of the population, is the one of the realist.

The Journey of Harmony is the journey of the intuitive heart. In some senses, it incorporates all four paths. This is the way of Jesus. His teachings included ways for individual spiritual growth and social change, as well as, political idealism and religious tenets. Its journey occurs primarily in relationships and self-actualization.

If anything, spirituality should highlight the truth that we are all different. Each person grows spiritually in a different sequence with different tools. Richardson validates these differences and our need to express them on our spiritual path. (Digest by Cindi Leacock, Atlantic University.)