Soul Celebrations and Spiritual Snacks
By Alexandra York
This tightly packed but eminently graspable book is full of new, original, and unique ideas for highly personal, deeply spiritual happiness that will appeal to both religious and nonreligious individuals. Basing its premises in values—and everyone has values–it offers broad avenues and private pathways to achieve a variety of sustained, empowering, exalted, and expansive “Soul Celebration” experiences that are singular to every individual because each person’s value system is exclusively theirs alone. In addition, it offers smaller, simpler “Spiritual Snacks” to provide instantly available, delectable bits of spiritual nourishment and inspirational energy for those wishing to “spur-of-the-moment” experience the wondrous joys of being alive and active in today’s whirlwind world. Note: Many people experience spiritual snacks without identifying them, but until we are conceptually aware of them we cannot own them as precious moments of ever-recurring moral renewal.
Our essential self-created or accepted value center defines our distinctive personhood. This interior core can be activated by external stimuli into experiences of sustained secular spiritual bliss, which become celebrations of our one-and-only individualized Self. How? By connecting to and uniting—becoming “One”—with three “other” here-on-earth entities that can stimulate our value center both emotionally and physically: nature, art, and romantically beloved humans. These three, and only these three, open gateways that can provide the highest renewal to the essence—the soul—of Selfhood in a secular manner.
Rain can become a spiritual experience rather than cause for an umbrella. By learning how to approach the wonders of the physical universe selectively and in a focused manner, we can experience a “merging” with chosen aspects of nature and come away with a gloriously fulfilled sense of having participated in eternity. A museum stroll, a novel, and music may turn into empowering experiences that nourish the soul because art at its best expresses ideas that make manifest—in an external, material form—the artists’ internal values; if those values match our own, we may feel elevated to the point of true exultation and experience the art spiritually as well as aesthetically. Romantic love with its sexual component can become the ultimate secular spiritual experience because the most desirable and cherished human being is a living embodiment of our top, supreme values—and that makes this mind-body union the most sacred of all. Plus, happily, aside from these three primaries, families and friends are two secondary subcategories where delightful and rewarding spiritual-like experiences can be shared. These are examples of spiritual experiences to be gained from a secular approach. But however we approach spirituality—religiously or secularly—at root the subject concerns the fundamentals that constitute a good and right life to pursue for the greatest satisfaction and happiness.
Especially in the context of current cultural and global strife, it is more important than ever for all individuals to create for themselves a loving, soul-satisfying private life untouchable by external events. Fortunately, an exquisite state of stability within the present turmoil—a personal “Still Point” in the global storm—can be achieved by everyone regardless of situational context, allowing each individual to seek and select their own paths to inalienable, self-created happiness.
Religious individuals of all creeds can add these enthralling pleasures to their already existing faith-based experiences. Nonreligious individuals can experience the heights of emotional-physiological-spiritual (mind, body, and soul) exaltation usually unimagined in a secular environment, thus uplifting their normal levels of pleasure to the summit of passionate earthly joy.
In Soul Celebrations and Spiritual Snacks, Alexandra York takes an ecumenical approach to the need for an exalted sense of spirituality, appealing to both the religious and the nonreligious alike. She presents a secular spirituality that has drawn lessons from religions and philosophies East and West in celebration of the beauties and joys that this world has to offer in all its myriad ways—in nature, the visual arts and music, in friendship, romantic relations, family, and home. Ultimately, it is a paean to the importance of human flourishing as key to the achievement of happiness here on earth. Whatever your own beliefs, this provocative book will challenge you to think differently about the quest and profoundly important human need for life-affirming spirituality.<br /><br />
– Chris Matthew Sciabarra, author of “The Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy” and coeditor of The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom>