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  • Writer's pictureAdrian Emery

strength of spirit

What exactly is strength of spirit, where does it come from and why is it so important? One does not need to be spiritual or religious or even have any particular faith to accept the concept of strength of spirit. We all know it; we all know to what degree we possess it, and we all want more.

We have all known people firsthand, or have heard stories second hand, of drastic situations that have been overcome by strength of spirit. We often refer to it as the sole reason why someone has survived a life-threatening illness or calamity. We all know people who just seem to possess that inner calm of moral strength that makes them charismatic and magnetic.

In an age where it is all about ego generated performance on social media and a superficial shallowness to reality, strength of spirit stands in stark contrast. It comes from deep within our core and cannot be summoned with the click of a mouse. It is something that must be earned gradually over time by slow and consistent work on one’s own personal inner development and growth. Its coming is not sudden and it can be very slow to develop.

Like any true skill, it takes many hours and years of dedicated practice to build. And it can be lost by one careless betrayal of the self. At its heart it is a sincere and genuine belief in oneself. It is a knowing that one can cope with whatever life throws at one. It is a self-confidence that transcends the gossamer of digital presence which can be faked by a veneer of exuberance.

Life cannot be fooled. Inner strength cannot be faked. Personal mastery takes time and effort. Strength of spirit is probably the single greatest determinant of success in life for it is that strength that is greater than fate. Strength of spirit is that necessary resilience on the journey of life.

There is a temptation in this plastic world to believe that success should come easily. We are constantly paraded with the supposed ‘one-day-wonders’ of the celebrity-influencer who lives the charmed life of untold followers, wealth, fame and fortune. The Hollywood version of life portrayed in movies is all about instant success. The time distortion of the digital world where we need to be constantly available and respond immediately has clouded us to the reality of effort.

It takes time to build anything of quality. It takes time and effort to build inner strength and moral virtue. It takes time to build one’s character.

One of the fundamental truths of life is the cyclic nature of reality: the ebb and flow of the seasons; the ups and downs, the triumphs and failures, the wins and losses, the joy and sorrow. Life is not without challenge and success does not come to the feint hearted. There is no such thing as instant success. It is just that we may not be aware of the prior effort someone put in, in order to achieve that final victory.

The yin and yang of the dialectic continuum rule the material universe. We live on the plane of duality and of necessity must learn to ride the wave of the Tao. The wise person rich in inner mastery learns to accept both the positive and the negative.

Obstruction, challenge, disappointment and lean times accost all of us on our journey. There is always a period of the dark night of the soul before any major victory or success. Moreover, obstacles throw us back upon ourselves. We need to go within, to reflect, to seek the error within ourselves and take our being to a higher level. A weak person withdraws into blame and self-justification becoming the victim of hard times and giving up on the quest.

Instant gratification weakens the spirit. The only way to cultivate strength of spirit is through self-discipline and what I call little acts of no. One does not need to become a hermetic monk or ascetic, but one does need to constantly discipline the ego with little acts of abstinence and frugality. Overindulgence never brings one to the goal.

Strength of spirit is that inner courage that is stronger than fate. Whatever happens in the external world, one never loses one’s inner cheer, one’s inner confidence and one’s inner determination to succeed. One merely finds another way.

Strength of spirit creates in us an ability to withdraw in the face of obstruction, not in order to give up or become the victim but rather to find that flexibility, that resilience, that creativity to discover the right path up the mountain. If one way is blocked, we simply find another. But often that search forces us to look within and find another path within ourselves. We have to tap into that inner reservoir of strength and determination. We have to find a hidden quality and capacity that we may not even have hitherto known existed.

In this way obstruction strengthens us. Makes us more noble. Makes us a better more tolerant person. And in the end makes the final victory all that much sweeter because we alone know the inner psychic hurdles we had to overcome to get there. This is true strength of spirit.

After all, this is the purpose of life on the material plane – to grow. Outer success in and of itself is empty. It is the inner personal growth required to get there that is important on the spiritual journey. This is what gives life value and meaning.

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