The first week of February has been designated by the United Nations as the “World Interfaith Harmony Week”. It is useful to look at the ways spiritual currents present ideas but also techniques of inner growth. Thus the review of the steps proposed by William Bloom
The Power of the New Spirituality
(Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 2012)
William Bloom who combines a long-standing interest in New Age approaches to spirituality with an identity focus in international relations (1), has written “We are in changing times. Our culture and technology are continually transforming, and the intellectual certainties of the last few hundred years are no longer secure…It is our need to find a new authenticity in our spiritual lives — to bring back fully into our consciousness — the sacred dimension of life, but we want to do this in a way that honours personal freedom and personal growth. In essence, then, we are turning to the teachings and experiences of what is called the ageless wisdom, but we are doing so with completely new attitudes”.
A key element of our changing culture is that we are discarding old religious forms and re-creating our spiritual and sacred world. Creative new attitudes, practices, and forms have been an emphasis of William Bloom.(2) As he writes “As a teacher and author I often feel conflicted: on the one hand, I want to inspire and encourage people about their innate goodness and the wonders of creation; on the other hand, I do not want to support naiveté about the human condition. We are magnificent beings with cosmic consciousness, and yet at the same time we are also insecure and can do harm.
“Yet the current emergence and creation of a new culture is not always an easy process. It feels as if everything is being created anew. At the same time, we know that we are working with dimensions which have always been and which always shall be.”
The basis of many New Age approaches is that we live in a vast field of energy. Vibrations and atmospheres can move like waves through this field to impact others. Our thoughts, feelings and actions can cooperate with this vitality, energy and consciousness for our development and to benefit others.
We find this use of energy fields in many schools of spiritual healing such as reiki, in yoga and martial arts. (3)
William Bloom sets out a three-step process for deepening and expanding our awareness, developing our hearts, and building a just, creative and benevolent world. He sets out some core skills.
The first is centering — a calm awareness, an integration of body, mind and spirit. This is best done through silent meditation, but some find music or ritual helpful. “Whatever works for you” is basically his approach. This is an approach called “mindfulness” in some Buddhist traditions and can also be helped by breathing exercises and other techniques.
The second step is to focus the heart on compassion. Visualization is one approach, such as visualizing ever wider circles of persons or places held within the field of compassion. Focusing on the Sacred Heart of Jesus is used in certain Catholic traditions.
The third step is to direct the energy field so that it is of service to others.
When we are centered and heart-focused, with an encouraging psychological attitude, we create a vibration that is supportive for those around us and can be a positive influence in the wider world.
William Bloom has written a clear and helpful presentation for personal fulfilment and service to humanity.
William Bloom Personal Identity, National Identity and International Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993)
William Bloom First Steps: An Introduction to Spiritual Practice (Forres, Scotland: Findhorn Press, 1993)
Barbara Ann Brennan Hands of Light: Guide to Healing Through the Human Energy Field (New York: Bantam, 1990)
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens