Spiritual maturity is not a religious concept. It has humanitarian objectives through balanced behaviors of spiritual understanding. Spiritual maturity is a gradual process of discovering your inner-self (or God Self) that goes along with self-discipline. It is important to understand that I am talking about a sufficiently “mobile” model of a Mature personality, allowing a different set of characterological features. However, in this article, I want to consider certain factors that can form the Central frame of such a personal model. And these factors I will describe through different signs of spiritual maturity.
Signs Of Spiritual Maturity
The famous American psychotherapist James Bugental calls authenticity the most important existential value of a human being. He identifies three main features of authentic existence:
- full awareness of the present moment of life;
- independent choice of the way of life at that moment;
- taking personal responsibility for this choice.
The authenticity to some extent generalizes many properties of the individual. First of all, it is an expression of sincerity towards another. An authentic person wants to be himself in his immediate reactions and in his holistic behavior. He allows himself not to know all the answers to life’s questions.
He doesn’t act like he’s in love if he feels hostile at the moment. The difficulties of most people are that they spend a lot of vital energy on playing roles, or creating an external facade, instead of using it to solve their real problems.
If the person most of the time hides his true self behind the mask of any selected role, it is not surprising that in response he will receive the same insincere attitude of others. Authenticity is the most complete example of flexible behavior.
Openness to Own Experience and Acceptance of Feelings
Here, by openness, I mean sincerity in the perception of one’s own feelings. Social experience teaches to deny, to reject the feelings, in particular, negative ones. The pressure of others forces to displace or suppress sadness, irritability, and anger. Society tells us: “don’t cry, don’t be nervous”, etc.
A spiritually mature person will not drive away any feelings, including negative ones. He accepts and experiences any feelings he has. Only, in this case, can you successfully control your behavior. It is because our displaced feelings are irrational, that is, they become a source of uncontrolled behavior.
When we realize our emotional reactions, we can choose our behavior in each situation, and not allow unconscious feelings to violate the regulation of our behavior. Therefore, we call ourselves “spiritually mature” only if we are capable of showing our tolerance for the whole range of ours and other emotional reactions.
Development of Self-Knowledge
Limited self-knowledge implies a restriction of freedom, and deep self-knowledge increases the possibility of choice in one’s life. The more a person knows about himself, the better he will understand other people, and Vice versa – the more a person understands others, the deeper he understands himself. Not being able to hear what’s going on inside us increases our exposure to stress and limits our effectiveness in life. It is very important to treat yourself realistically and consciously.
The Strength of Personality and Identity
A mature person knows who he is, who he can become, what he wants from life, what is important for him in essence and what does not matter. He turns to life with questions, answers the questions posed to him by life, and constantly tests his values.
A spiritually mature person can’t be a reflection of the hopes of other people, he acts on his own internal position. This allows him to feel strong in interpersonal relationships.
Tolerance to Uncertainty (the Ability to Withstand Uncertainty)
Many people feel uncomfortable in situations where there is a lack of structure, clarity, and certainty. But spiritual development requires letting the comfort zone go and opening oneself up to a new experience. When we dive into our spiritual journey we have no guarantees or clarity of what to expect. A spiritual journey is very individual and even very experienced spiritual gurus can’t give us all the answers to what to expect.
A spiritually mature person understands this. He knows that life is an adventurous journey. That’s why we never know what the coming day is preparing for us, what kind of challenges we will face, and what decisions we will have to make. All we can have is strong confidence in our own intuition and the adequacy of feelings, confidence in constructive decisions, and the ability to take risks – all these qualities help us to endure the tension created by the uncertainty of the entire series of life situations.
Since most life situations arise under our control, we should be responsible for our actions in these situations. Understanding your responsibility allows you to freely and consciously make a choice at any time of communication – to agree with the arguments of the interlocutor or to enter into a productive confrontation.
Personal responsibility helps to take criticism more constructively. In such cases, criticism does not trigger the mechanisms of psychological protection but serves as useful feedback that improves the efficiency of activities and even life itself.
The Depth of Relationships With Others
When a spiritually mature person evaluates other people (their feelings, views, peculiar traits) he does it without condemnation and the use of labels.
Some people feel that expressing positive feelings obliges and thereby restricts freedom and makes them vulnerable. Others are afraid of rejection, so they feel that the safest position is the rejection of close relations. And they are satisfied with the communication with the partner in the distance.
But if you have enough spiritual maturity you don’t have such fears. You are able to freely express your feelings, both positive and negative, when communicating with other people.
Refusal of Perfectionism
Spiritual maturity involves a refusal of the desire to be perfect. Instead of blaming ourselves for our mistakes, we need to take them as our lessons. If we accept that we are not perfect, we will avoid unnecessary tension and feelings of guilt. In this case, relations with others become deeper and at the same time more real.
Spiritual maturity implies the ability of a person to feel empathy. Empaths understand the feelings of the people they communicate with, as well as mandatory consideration of them in the process of communication. The range of empathy manifestation varies widely: from a light emotional response to a full immersion in the world of feelings of your interlocutor. Empaths realize that the feelings they experience are a reflection of the feelings of their interlocutors.
Kindness and Compassion
Kindness is based on the fundamental concept of self-recognition. We are required to treat all aspects of ourselves with compassion. Not just our positive aspects but also those ones that we previously denied. Spiritual maturity is a reflection of our deep gratitude, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.
Only once we treat ourselves with kindness and compassion can we treat others the same way. Our attitude towards others is always a reflection of our attitude towards ourselves. That’s why I always say: “Love yourself first!”.
Spiritual maturity implies an understanding of the fact that the process of awakening goes through many periods and cycles. It requires our deepest commitment.
True patience does not aspire to any achievement. It allows us to open up for the timeless. When Einstein explained the nature of time by example, he said, “When you sit with a nice girl for two hours you think it’s only a minute, but when you sit on a hot stove for a minute you think it’s two hours. That’s relativity.”
Awakening is not a matter of weeks, years, or lives, but a matter of loving and patient disclosure to the mystery at this moment.
A Sense of the Sacred
Spiritually mature people treat every action they do as a sacred practice. Spiritual maturity means an understanding of the fact that if we need to bring light and compassion into the world, we have to start with our own lives. Our personal lives become more genuine spiritual practices than any series of experiences we have or any philosophy we share. This personal approach to practice means respect for the individual and the universal in our lives. Moreover, we also honor our individual body, our individual family, and our community, as well as our personal history of joy and sorrow. Spiritually mature people have a deep understanding that their personal spiritual awakening affects all other creatures.
Instead of accepting some philosophy or blindly following some great teacher, going on an insurmountable path, we must recognize that we need to see for ourselves. In spiritual maturity, we find a great sense of autonomy – not as a reaction to authority, but as a basis for sincere recognition of the fact that we, like Buddha, are capable of spiritual awakening. Spiritual maturity has a deeply democratic quality. It means that all individuals have the opportunity to discover what is sacred and to free themselves.
This sense of exploration combines the openness of the mind with “discerning wisdom,” the ability to separate the useful from the harmful, which keeps the eyes open. With an open mind, we always learn.
Our sense of discovery gives us the opportunity to use the great wisdom traditions to learn from teachers and be part of the community. While at the same time in contact with ourselves, to see the truth and speak the truth with great respect to our own integrity and to our own awakening. This kind of research allows us to be more honest with ourselves.
Flexibility implies that spiritual life is not about accepting a particular philosophy or set of beliefs or teachings, nor is it about confronting or opposing anyone. It is the lightness of the heart that implies that all spiritual means are rafts to come to freedom.
The flexibility of the mindset contributes lightness and humor to spiritual practice. It allows us to see that there are thousands of ways to reach spiritual awakening. And if we choose one way and other people choose another way there is nothing wrong with this. We may follow different paths to reach the same destination.
With spiritual maturity, our ability to forgive and free ourselves grows and deepens. This shows the natural resolution of our conflicts and the ability to return to joy and peace. When we reach spiritual maturity we see spirituality as a question of who we are rather than of what ideal, philosophy, religion, or guru we follow. A spirituality of this kind is full of joy and integrity; it is both ordinary and awakened. Such spiritual maturity allows the light of the divine to shine through us.