What Is Spiritual Development
Spiritual development is the process of becoming fit for a higher level in the spirit world. There are three areas of spiritual learning: skills, beliefs, and evolution.
Spiritual Skills include the ability to serve as a conduit for spiritual healing and the ability to perceive communications from spirits. However, having these abilities does not indicate that someone is advanced spiritually.
Beliefs are what you believe about the afterlife and the purpose of the earth life. That is also not related to how spiritually evolved a person is.
Evolution is primarily what spiritual development is concerned with. An highly evolved spirit might incarnate without manifesting spiritual beliefs or skills. The process of spiritual evolution involves the development of personality traits of a highly evolved spirit. These traits include the ability to love and absence of selfishness. However, spirits incarnate for many different purposes and it is not really possible to identify who among us is advanced spiritually and who is not. Therefore it is unwise to judge other people based on whether you think they are spiritually advanced or not.
Spiritualists believe that a person incarnates in order to learn. Christianity, or more correctly, the words of Jesus, teach that what you are here to learn is: to love God and other people. Buddhism, teaches that to be able to love you must become unselfish or in other words lessen the grip your ego holds over your thoughts and deeds. Buddhism gives practical techniques (meditation and mindfulness) that can help you to become unselfish.
Therefore, humility is the sign of a highly evolved soul. One should look for this characteristic when seeking a spiritual teacher.
For humans living on earth, spiritual evolution is the most important aspect of spiritual development. This is because in the afterlife you will have spiritual skills. In fact, spiritual skills will be the only skills you will have at that point. Also, in the afterlife, you will have the right beliefs because you will be able to see for yourself what the afterlife is like. However, unless you use your time on earth correctly and learn to love and to eliminate selfishness, you will not have that ability when you move into the afterlife.
While the great religions of the world teach that developing love for others is the primary objective of spiritual development, it is not enough to say this without some instruction on how to develop love. Our biological nature puts up many obstacles against love. People hear the beautiful words of the great teachers and then find that it is impossible to live according to their beliefs. This damages people psychologically and brings disrepute to preachers and followers alike.
Therefore it is important for humankind to have an explanation of how to develop love. Love arises spontaneously when hatred and anger and other forms of selfish and negative thought are absent.
The way to eliminate selfishness through meditation can be found in the page on meditation. If you practice meditation daily, then gradually over the years, without straining to be perfect, you will become less and less self centered and a natural love for others will arise within you. The chapter on Short Topics has more On The Purpose of Life.
For more information on spiritual beliefs see the page on The Principles of Spiritualism .
A person's beliefs have a strong influence on his ability to develop spiritual skills. If he is skeptical and continually attributes anomalous experiences to coincidence and "natural explanations", he will weaken his abilities through negative reinforcement. This will also discourage spirit guides that may be trying to help him. Each person is born having spiritual skills, but our societal attitudes result, in this way, in most people losing awareness of their natural abilities as they mature. Therefore it is necessary to undo the effects of living in an unbelieving society.
To develop spiritual skills, a person must be accepting of the phenomena and must continually look for spiritual influence in his life in the form of coincidences, hunches, and other unusual phenomena. In this way he will increase his awareness of spiritual influence in his life and notice more and more the activity of his spiritual skills. This positive feedback will lead to improvement and enhancement of his spiritual skills. Therefore it is necessary to err on the side of credulity rather than skepticism.
There is the risk of incorrectly attributing coincidence to spiritual influence, however this risk must be borne. One must always maintain an awareness of this risk and never take rash or unwise actions based on supposed spiritual influence and never allow belief in infallibility to take hold.
The regular practice of meditation and relaxation is also helpful in the development of spiritual skills. These practices calm the mind and allow one to notice subtle thoughts, impressions, and sensations that may be associated with spiritual phenomena.