What are spiritual interactions?
Just as physical interactions are universal, so spiritual interactions are also universal. Similar to the physical being driven by force and power, spiritual interactions are expressions of choice.
They are not be confused with religious choices. Spiritual interactions reveal the heart and happen at the personal level. People love to interact with people, with the inner nature of people, with the origin and potential of people. We are by nature spiritual beings born to contemplate and connect with ourselves, others, life, and deity.
I use "spiritual" in a broad, inclusive sense. Not only does it contain the supernatural and metaphysical, but also includes those distinctly human aspects of emotion, social bonds, and connected thought. It is this higher, inner dimension of personhood that separates us from animals and gives us a sense of self-worth, deeper meaning, and noble aspirations. When these qualities work as they should, we feel good and purposeful. When they fail for too long, we descend to the level of addicted animals.
We can endure almost anything with friends and supporters, but can tolerate almost nothing when abandoned to ourselves. Our interactions with others give us courage, place, stability, meaning, and happiness. One on one or in groups we like to play games, talk, eat, work, party, rest, and just be.
Imagine yourself alone in a universe of rocks and plants, but no people. You would soon have a deep and unexplainable loneliness and depression. Without anyone telling you or teaching you, you would wonder what was the point of living. You would search for someone like yourself. You would start a spiritual quest for meaning and relationship simply because you are a person with a nature that seeks and thrives on interaction with others.
I am an interactive being. Unending life without interaction, physical or spiritual, is not a happy life for me. An eternity with physical interactions, but no personal interactions, is nice for a rock, but not for me. I can kiss a rock, but it cannot bond with me on personal levels. I can talk to a rock, but it cannot listen to me and communicate shared experiences. I can physically interact with the rock — like throwing it far away — but I cannot spiritually interact with it.
What motivates spiritual interactions?
In the physical world, fuel powers cars and trucks, food energizes the body, the basic forces operate the universe. What drives a decision? What energizes a soul? From my research, faith, hope, and love motivate a person’s choices.
Every act from conversing to hugging to yelling to working has a motive. Our actions come from thoughts and feelings which spring from our beliefs, desires, and values — faith, hope, and love.
Let's start with an obvious example. Two people get married because they trust and love each other and hope to spend a long, happy life together.
A mundane example would be brushing one's teeth. I value (love) my teeth and do not want to lose them to cavities. Because of what I have been taught, I believe brushing helps me toward that goal, and I obviously hope to achieve it.
We take vacations because we believe we need a break. We hope to gain rest and energy. We love feeling good and strong.
We go to work because we believe we will get paid and we trust our employers to pay us. We hope this will give us a better life and provide for us and others because we love them. Some love their work.
We trust and love our friends and hope to maintain close relationships with them.
Faith, hope, and love work on the negative side also. A mother does not love changing diapers, in fact, she detests it. However, she hopes and believes in the cleanliness and health of her baby. Therefore, she changes the diapers because she loves her baby.
A dark example would be the serial killer so in love with himself and the feeling of power that he believes, and hopes, he can get away with killing. Also, the cheater believes true love is found behind the back of the faithful lover and hopes to live the double life without consequence. In the case of the mother, the negative is in the external environmental conditions. Her motives toward her child are pure and unselfish. However, the killer and the adulterer are harming other people by their selfish choices.
Examine the decisions you make today. What beliefs, what hopes (profound or mundane) prompted the choices? What do you value, treasure, and love and how does that move you to make the decisions you make? On the flip side, try to find a decision, situation, or issue that does not involve any of these motivations.
In our search for life's answers we are already able to draw one conclusion. Solution will be found in the midst of interaction, not in emptiness. There are some religions/philosophies that teach the student to empty one's mind of all thought, and that when complete emptiness is achieved then ultimate insight is reached. That is just the opposite of the truth. A universe based entirely on interaction can only be understood by gathering and connecting knowledge, wisdom, and love.
I use the words "faith" and "hope" and "love" in a categorical sense, not in a precise we-always-experience-it-exactly-like-this sort of way. For example, faith has a clear dual meaning. It can be used in the sense of an intellectual belief or conviction. It can also be used in the sense of personal trust, which begins to overlap with love. So, like most words in most languages, they each have meaning but are fuzzy around the edges. Therefore, we need to comprehend the underlying concept and not rely on a surface literalness.
trust; believe; conviction; hold to principles
religious belief; scientific belief; cultural mindset
trust in someone or something
loyalty or allegiance to a cause or person
confidence that some event will happen
assurance in your position in a relationship
freedom from doubt; to “really know”
belief that something is true
conviction in the rightness of a principle
chosen perspective on information
expectation; optimism; desire; wish
anticipation; holding to a promise
possibility of future success
general feeling that some desire will be fulfilled
the object on which expectations are centered
belief/feeling/intuition that future will get better
outlook that things will become more favorable
respect; reverence; fear
cherish; desire; affection; appreciate; adore
enamored with; get pleasure from
to bestow grace (undeserved benefits)
to value someone or something
to hold dear; to greatly enjoy
to treasure; to appreciate
to do what is eternally good for others
Faith, hope, and love come in negative flavors, also. Distrust is the opposite of trust, for example. And the negatives are not necessarily bad. It is good to distrust an untrustworthy person. It is good to hate bad things. Notice the double negatives. The key is the context or the object. It is good to hope that a criminal fails. It is bad when we give up all hope and suffer depression or even commit suicide.
Some of the antonyms below might not be complete opposites. They might be twisted or have partial meanings. For example, gullible is faith based on poor, missing, or fake evidence. Some will categorize it as opposite, others as partial, but such precision does not matter. We only need the basic concepts for practical purposes.
Doubt; skepticism; distrust; dubious
Gullible; naive; credulous
Suspicious; judgmental; wary
Despair; pessimistic; despondent
Disheartened; resigned; discouraged
Hate; fear; prejudice; bigotry
Intense dislike; antipathy; aversion
Abhor; condemn; hostile; enmity
Scorn; detest; despise; loathe
While we can talk about faith, hope, and love as things, they are really methods of connecting, and interactions are connections in motion. However, since faith, hope, and love also have a negative side, the three basic motivations are also ways of disconnecting. It would be helpful to examine them individually.
In your words:
Expand the synonyms/antonyms lists. Find positive and negative examples. What is a person? Are the non-religious spiritual? What if you were sentenced to solitary confinement forever?