Excerpt from Soulful Spirituality

The following is an excerpt from the third chapter of Soulful Spirituality: Becoming Fully Alive and Deeply Human by David G. Benner.

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Authentic spirituality is also a spirituality of becoming. Being itself contains this important dynamic of becoming. The roots of the English-language verb to be make this clear. The Sanskrit form of this verb is bhu. Literally translated this means “to grow into being” or “to become.” Becoming is a foundational part of being, particularly of human being. To be human is to possess a vital drive to become—to relentlessly push toward the goal of fulfilling our self, of becoming all we can be. The quest to flourish is deeply embedded in being human. From the perspective of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, this quest is rooted in the imago Dei. The human quest to become is a spiritual reflection of our participation in the life of the Spirit.

Because authentic spirituality participates in life rather than positioning itself either against or outside the flow of life, it is endlessly evolving and changing. While change sometimes may be resisted, it should be welcomed as the very heartbeat of life—the sure sign that life still pulses through the world, inviting not just our own personal growth but human and cosmic evolution. From a theistic perspective, change is the sign that God remains present and active, holding and sustaining all things in the Divine Being and moving all of life forward toward actualization and completion. Spirituality that supports the human journey will always involve saying yes to this flow and consenting to participate in this great journey of becoming.

Becoming balances doing and being. Spiritual teachers sometimes put too much distance between doing and being, as if one could ever be without any doing, or do without any being. The point they are usually trying to make when they assert the priority of being over doing is that all human doing should emerge out of our more basic being. We are, after all, human beings, not human doings. One way to keep doing and being in equilibrium is to keep the horizon of becoming always in sight. The person who is no longer in a process  of becoming is a person who has lost something fundamental to fullfledged humanity. Perhaps this state of nonbecoming is what Christian theology refers to as hell—something that for too many people is a present reality devoid of becoming and devoid of vitality.

An embrace of becoming all that we can be is a deeply spiritual way of living. It orients us to that which is larger and beyond our individual selves, channeling our vitality and making life meaningful. It is a spirituality of growth and the fulfillment of our potentialities.


©2011 by David G. Benner. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.