Volume 6 / Issue 1 SPRING 2020

S p i r i t ua l i t y S t u d i e s 6 - 1 S p r i n g 2 0 2 0 1 1 Larry Culliford So, the next day I drove back to London and, soon after, look - ing at the positions vacant pages of the latest medical journal, I saw advertised the job I knew would be mine. I went immediately to see the professor at St George’s Hospital in London, who encouraged me to apply, and was eventually appointed. The next few years were not totally plain sailing. I had to continue training and take two sets of professional exams, and then compete for jobs on the crowded career ladder; but I was always confident, having the Holy Spirit on my side. Even in the darkest moments of practising psychiatry in difficult circumstances; for it is a challenging, unpopular, mis - understood and under-resourced specialty; what I had, you could say, was faith, and the strongest sense of walking with Jesus beside me. The point is that I was able to access the source of that guidance and faith through silence, stillness, and solitude; through meditation or (as you may prefer to think of it) silent prayer: and this, for me, is the most valuable of all possible wisdom exercises , enhancing the others, which are all aimed, similarly, at strengthening the connection between what we are calling soul and spirit . In my recent book (Culliford 2020, 138–9), on myPsychology Today’ blog (Culliford 2018), and through theWorld Wide Wave of Wisdom (Culliford 2019), I have been encouraging people to adopt a  Spiritual Development Plan (SDP) or, for those less comfortable with the idea of spirituality, a  Personal Growth Programme (PGP), according to which the simplest daily wisdom practice routine, PGP, or SDP, might consist of up to five parts, as follows: a) Regular quiet time – for meditation, reflection or prayer; b) Appropriate study – of religious, spiritual or other wisdom material, poetry, philosophy, etc.; c) Maintaining supportive friendshipswith others who share similar humanitarian or spiritual aims and values; d) Regular acts of service, kindness and compassion ; e) Time spent engaging meaningfully with nature . There is not time to include a more complete list, which can be found elsewhere (Culliford 2020, 138–142), and which of course includes regular acts of worship, but by way of explanation, here is a short passage from my new title The Big Book of Wisdom (Culliford 2020, 138): Wisdom practices, of a holistic and spiritual nature, can be divided into two main types: religious and secular. These are of time-honoured value, and have in common that they improve personal harmony by restoring an ideal balance between the left and right brain hemispheres, and so between spiritual and worldly values. These practices promote personal equanimity in the face of threats, also foster natural grieving and healing in the face of loss, with personal growth as a natural and permanent consequence. Between people, even people from widely different back - grounds, who may not even have a common language, shared holistic and spiritual practices tend to promote fellow-feeling and friendship. This evening, in the context of a library, it is right that I should focus on the first two recommended components: regular quiet time and appropriate study of religious, spiritual or other wisdom material. So, before going on to mention some more books that I have found helpful on my own spiri - tual journey, I will add a word about reflection , reading reflec - tively , Lectio Divina as the Latin has it, or, to use another word, contemplation . This is Thomas Merton (1972, 1) again: Contemplation is the highest expression of [author’s note: a person’s] intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacred - ness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant Source. Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that Source. It knows the Source, obscurely, inexplicably, but with a certitude that goes both beyond reason and beyond simple faith... That resonates with me, as I hope it does with you. I really like it.