My name is Michael and I am an accountant, a writer, a father, a recovering alcoholic, a friend and many other things besides. Setting aside these labels and descriptions, I am simply a human being. More important than this though is the idea that I am a human who is being. This distinction lies at the heart of the famous question posed by William Shakespeare. Whether we choose to be or not to be is a far deeper issue than I had ever imagined. I have come to understand that beneath the strong sense of self that has shaped my life so far there lies a tiny, universal spark of life which is the true essence of who I really am. There are many different words used throughout the world that try to capture the true nature of this inner self, but ultimately they all fall short because they attempt to describe the indescribable. The word that I have chosen to use is spirit, which in turn gives rise to the notion of spirituality. Aside from this is the powerful sense of self that is often termed the ego-self or the ego. The conceptual contrast between spirit and ego is what this book is all about. If we define spirit as really being, and ego as not fully being, then the challenge posed by Shakespeare takes on a very profound meaning. Do we choose to live from spirit or from ego? That is the question. My personal answer to that choice has completely redefined my life and has led me to write about my experience. The irony is that the very act of writing and publishing a book about spirituality is itself an act of ego, and yet beneath that exterior facade there is a genuine and humble impulse to share what I have discovered.
The words that I have written are by no means a literary masterpiece but they do have the merit of complete honesty, an authentic desire to share my experience and understanding and a total lack of ulterior motive. I know for a fact that the wisdom that I have tried to capture in these pages has the power to change lives. I have witnessed it, and I have experienced it myself. Spiritual growth is available to all but it can only take place when we are ready to absorb and practice new ideas. This can be difficult, but once we are willing to embrace change then all things are possible. Some readers will be astonished and amazed by what I have to say, and some will find it weird and irrelevant. Each of us is free to choose our own experience.
My background combines a career as a finance executive, and a basic interest in science, with subsequent twelve step addiction recovery principles and a resultant awareness of spirituality. My motivation in writing is to share my experience and understanding with others so that they may perhaps benefit from what has happened to me. In doing so I have a hope that some may achieve greater fulfillment in their lives through spiritual growth. The only things needed are an open mind and a willingness to consider new ideas. These things are however essential because a closed mind will not be able to accept the many paradoxes of spirituality.
The book is divided into seven sections and broadly follows my understanding of spirituality as it has unfolded for me. The first section introduces fundamental spiritual concepts, and is then followed by a long section that aims to show how growth can lead us towards unconditional love. The third section adds some scientific weight to spiritual principles and section four sets out the case for regular spiritual practice. Section five demonstrates how spirituality has positively influenced my thinking in many important aspects of my life. The sixth section tackles the vexed issue of religion and the final section brings everything together in a summary. None of this is intended to be prescriptive. One of the many lessons that I learned is that we all have complete freedom to choose how we conduct our lives. There is no right way or wrong way, but I have found spirituality to be far more rewarding than I could possibly have imagined.
It is important for me to say at the outset that I am not a member of any religion, political party or other sectarian group. I have no wish to cause offence to anyone or to provoke any controversy. I neither support nor oppose any specific cause. My only wish is to continue my own path of spiritual growth and to pass on that which has been given to me.
I believe that I have been lucky enough to find an answer to inner peace and contentment, and hence to lasting happiness. This is not a permanent state of affairs for me but it is progressively my experience. My journey has by no means been unusual, but it has nevertheless been unique in its precise unfolding. I do not claim to be completely right about anything in particular but I am increasingly excited by the wisdom that is available to us and by what I have come to understand.
My purpose is neither to teach nor to preach. I simply want to share with you what I have found to be true and to pass on what has worked for me. My words are for those who are curious to know what life really has to offer.
If any reader has ever thought that there must be more to life than their current experience so far, then this book could mark an important turning point. If it does so for you, even to a small extent, then my purpose in sharing my thoughts will have been fulfilled.