To begin understanding how authenticity is essential to the human experience, we first may want to establish an understanding of what the human experience is all about. Many people offer different ideas as to what the human experience is all about.
In the introduction to his article, The Human Experience, Robert Firestone, Ph.D. writes:
Human beings, unlike other species, are cursed with a conscious awareness of their own mortality. I believe that the tragedy of the human condition is that people’s awareness and true self consciousness concerning this existential issue contributes to an ultimate irony: Human beings are both brilliant and aberrant, sensitive and savage, exquisitely caring and painfully indifferent, remarkably creative and incredibly destructive to self and others. The capacity to imagine and conceptualize has negative as well as positive consequences because they predispose anxiety states that culminate in a defensive form of denial.
Michael Neill surmises three universal principles related to the human experience. He observes that these universal principles have been observed in science, philosophy, and religion. He provides a brief description:
The Principle of Mind:
There is an energy and intelligence behind life. This is ever present but is not ‘in control’ – it has no inherent morality or apparent point of view. It simply ensures that but for the interference of external circumstance, acorns become oak trees, cuts heal, and life begets life.
The Principle of Consciousness:
The capacity to be aware and experience life is innate in human beings. It is a universal phenomenon. Our level of awareness in any given moment determines the quality of our experience.
The Principle of Thought:
We create our individual experience of reality via the vehicle of thought. Thought is the missing link between the formless world of pure potentiality and the created world of form.
From a more practical, and appropriate spiritual viewpoint, the existential question of the Human Experience becomes even more precarious in teaching and discussion. This is because various religious philosophies attempt to prescribe a “right way of thinking” in regards to the nature of the Human experience.
Spiritual Authenticity and our human experience
There is a vast difference between religious belief and spirituality. Religion, and religious belief, is based on specific dogma’s, rituals, requirements of membership into the specific community of believers, and acceptance to particular doctrines that are deemed acceptable. Religion basis the belief, doctrines, and teachings on particular sacred texts. Spirituality, on the other hand, focuses more on the practical aspects of living out specific values and beliefs. Within a religious context, it is the person living out the values and beliefs espoused by the community of faith one belongs.
Spiritual authenticity is the ideology of an individual living out what they have come to identify as core values and beliefs. It moves beyond mere membership within a faith based community. It transcends religious rituals and rites of passages. In some ways, spirituality is the self-actualization and transcendence of an individual.
It is noted that humanity has always had an innate desire for the spiritual. Meaning, part of our human experience in this life is to have some form of belief where we seek guidance, sustenance, develop faith in, and a hope for something far better than what we may experience in the present moment.
In his article, published at Psychology Today, April 2013, Dr. John Chirpian, Ph.D, Th.D. provides 12 characteristics of inauthentic religiosity. He then prescribes 12 characteristics of authentic religiosity that may shape our own human experience. His recommendation, review the two list and see where one may reside in relationship to inauthenticity or authentic spiritual awareness and spiritual authenticity.
So, how does spiritual authenticity help shape our own human experience? And, what does it have to do with living consciously?
Authentic and conscious living is courageous living
Through spiritual authenticity, we no longer live in a spirit of fear. We also, no longer live in a spirit of control. These two great illusions prevent us from fulfilling our own sense of happiness and well-being. What this means is: when we live in fear, we are living a life we do not believe we are capable of overcoming. When we live in the illusion of having control, we may become rigid, unable to be flexible, and experience greater and greater disappointment, as well as suffering.
Giving up our illusion of control. By facing our fears, we are capable of empowering ourselves to live close to our key values and beliefs. We move from faith to faith, hope to hope, and we experience all that life has to offer. We have the empowerment to accept life on it’s own terms, find the value in our own adversity, and develop resilience to press forward.
Success only happens when we come to realize who we truly are, understand our own purpose and meaning, and utilize our experience and knowledge in order to serve other people. Success is tied to self-actualization and transcendence. It is not about what rights we have, or seeking justice for harm or injustice done. It is living by what we believe to be important to ourselves, to others, and the rewards of service.
We live by the truth of our values. This appears to create transparency within our lives. What we believe internally, as we live out those spiritual truths, become manifested externally.
In the Christian faith and scriptures, Christ teaches that it is by the fruit of man that we shall know him (See, Matthew 7:16-20). The goodness of our heart is cultivated. It is carefully nurtured. In it’s season, fruit is produced. Likewise, as we strive to cultivate a sense of authenticity, and living consciously, in its due season, people around us will see our values and beliefs.
It takes courage to face our fears. It takes courage to identify, live by and up to our core values and beliefs. It is not easy because we have to forge our own path, take up our own journey. No one is capable of living out our lives. We are responsible for living.
Therefore, living a conscious and authentic life is the journey to discovery and self-actualization of our own human experience.