Friday, September 08, 2006

In the Garden of Spirituality: Daniel Helminiak

“We are not on earth to guard a museum,
but to cultivate a flowering garden of life.”

- Pope John XXIII

Continuing with a series of reflections on spirituality, I offer today the perspective of psychotherapist, theologian and author Daniel Helminiak.


When I say spiritual, I do not necessarily suggest any reference to religious faith, to God, or to Christ. I refer to something that is simply human, something in human experience that goes beyond the here and now. We have in us an opening to a beyond. That something is spiritual.

Different people might experience their spiritual nature in different ways – watching the stars at night, listening to a symphony, working through an intellectual problem, making love. A dimension to human experience exists that pulls us out of ourselves and lets us know that we, our very selves, are caught up in something that is vast and marvellous. We are bigger than ourselves. We are naturally self-transcending.

[All experiences that] move us beyond ourselves [ . . . ] are self-transcending experiences. All open us up to reality that is clearly not limited to the sensible, the concrete, the physical, the here and now. These experiences open us up to what is potentially universal and eternal. Through such experiences we move beyond ourselves, and more and more we ourselves become that beyond toward which we move. These are spiritual experiences.

- Excerpted from Daniel Helminiak’s book, Sex and the Sacred: Gay Identity and Spiritual Growth (Haworth Press, New York, 2006).

Image: Gordon Bayly.

See also the previous Wild Reed post:
In the Garden of Spirituality: Zainab Salbi

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