What is Grounded Spirituality?

Via Ben Ralston
on Jan 20, 2011
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What is Grounded Spirituality?

Grounded spirituality is an approach to life founded on an experience of reality. It’s for people who have a ‘healthy skepticism’, but are nevertheless faithful.

It is a way of life that simultaneously embraces rooted-ness (being ‘down to earth’), and star-gazing. This wonderful quote from Oscar Wilde comes to mind…

“we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars…”

You are not really American, or English, or Slovene, or any other nationality.

First and foremost, you are an Earthling.

Whether you were born here or there; whether your skin is black or white; whether you speak this language or that language, or many languages, or none at all, I don’t care.

You are the same as I am. We are separate only by appearance, and through perception.

Another wonderful quote comes to mind, from Shakespeare’s Richard II:

“Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood

With solemn reverence:

throw away respect, tradition, form and ceremonious duty,

For you have but mistook me all this while:

I live with bread like you, feel want, taste grief, need friends:

subjected thus, how can you say to me, I am a king?”

Whether you are a king or a beggar; a teacher or a student;

CEO of a multinational business, or the cleaner who sweeps the floor:

you live with bread, feel want, taste grief, and need friends.

Just like me.

We are all, basically, the same. We all want to be happy. And for all of us, the ultimate happiness is the true experience of love.

Grounded Spirituality is for you if you recognize that heaven is a place on earth. Sometimes, for us to accept that we have to first know hell – and it’s also a place on earth.

“… if you know what life is worth, you will look for yours on earth…” (Bob Marley)

Grounded Spirituality is for people who want to change the world, one step at a time, by embodying that change themselves.

It’s for people who know that the world is in them, and not the other way around.

It’s for those who know that in order to realize our divine self, we first have to realize our humanity.

Ancient Zen saying:

“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

Grounded Spirituality is not an escape. It is not a fantasy. It is not a new-age airy-fairy get-away.

It’s the opposite. It’s about ‘keeping it real’ and upholding your responsibilities; being able to stand up in any situation with your head held high, knowing that you are doing the right thing, even though sometimes that can be painful.


It’s about being a ‘peaceful warrior’, having the courage to stay open to every possibility; closed to none. It’s about knowing that truth is beyond perception; but going ahead and trying to perceive truth anyway.

Grounded Spirituality, to me, is a challenge and an invitation and a call to arms.

What is it to you?

Ps – ‘like’ it up, share, leave a comment please… spread the love!


About Ben Ralston

Ben Ralston has been practising personal development—necessity being the Mother of invention—since he was about six years old. He’s been teaching and sharing what he’s learnt along the way for a couple of decades. His main thing is Heart of Tribe retreats—whose very purpose is to help you fall back in love with life, no less. Leading these retreats alongside his woman Kara-Leah Grant—also an elephant journal writer (that’s how they met!)—they combine a deep well of lineage-based yoga teaching experience, with expertise in healing trauma and various other methods of personal development. Ben also works with clients one-on-one via Skype, writes, makes videos from time to time, and is passionate about parenting. He lives in an intentional, tribal community in the hills of Croatia, where you might find him gardening barefoot and talking to the rocks. Connect with Ben on Facebook or YouTube or check out his website for more info.


26 Responses to “What is Grounded Spirituality?”

  1. YesuDas says:

    Thanks for this, Ben; it's lovely.

    For me, grounded spirituality is also about being open, as Martha Graham said, to "the forces that motivate you"–true to your own desires and gifts. As C.S. Lewis said, through the demon Screwtape:

    "The deepest likings and impulses of any man are the raw material, the starting-point, with which the Enemy has furnished him. To get him away from those is therefore always a point gained; even in things indifferent it is always desirable substitute the standards of the World, or convention, or fashion, for a human's own real likings and dislikings…You should always try to make the patient abandon the people or food or books he really likes in favour of the "best" people, the "right" food, the "important" books."

  2. Ben Ralston says:

    Thanks YesuDas,

    I love C.S. Lewis – the Narnia books are all I’ve read, but I’ve read them many, many, many times as a child (and I must admit a few times as an adult). I used to go round the house checking the backs of all the wardrobes… could never believe that there WASN’T a world in the back of one of them!

    Could you explain that quote please? It makes no sense to me…


  3. Nice, Ben. You need to update your bio!

  4. Thanks, Ben. Wonderful post! We all bear the "earthmark" …Did you ever see my ele post "One Planet. One Humanity." ? http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/09/one-planet… Think you'd like it 🙂 xoxo

  5. Lokken says:

    Great post, earthling.
    Another thing I try to be mindful of is not layering anything on top of what "is."

  6. TamingAuthor says:

    Intriguing meditation on the relationship between spirit and flesh, between dense material forms and spirituality.

    One step in the journey does appear to be a thorough grounding in the moment and its physical mass in order to perceive one's present location. "Earthlings all." Do you ever wonder how you came to be an earthling, what the spiritual journey might be that brought you to that condition?

  7. Ben Ralston says:

    Thanks Bob… I would’ve been forever expecting…

  8. Ben_Ralston says:

    Hmmmm I just looked at it again – i couldn't watch the videos before but was able to now. Beautiful. Inspiring. thank you

  9. Ben_Ralston says:

    You mean perceiving directly rather than projecting your own stuff onto what is? Yes, that's pretty crucial isn't it! Good practice…

  10. Ben_Ralston says:

    I did, but I prefer now just to wonder at everything, without looking for answers.

  11. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thank you Sarah. I feel you. Love, Ben

  12. TamingAuthor says:

    Ah, so you are lost and without roots, a wanderer on planet earth. That would truly be an earthling. : >)

  13. masha says:

    amazing post! thank you.

  14. Terrence says:

    Sounds like another twist on the work of Satan to me.

    See you on the other side of that call to arms, soldier.

  15. *jj* says:

    This was one where I felt "yes, that's it! *That's* what I'm trying to do!" Not coming very close, of course, but I see the direction nonetheless…
    Thank you for your insight.

  16. Ben_Ralston says:

    Satan only exists in your head.

  17. Ben_Ralston says:

    Direction is all important 🙂

  18. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thank you Masha!

  19. macpanther says:

    How are we to "be the change" we wish to see in the world? How are we to build a movement engaged in social change, sarvodaya, for the uplift of all, without losing sight of our groundedness in personal change? I have been a sociologist and an activist for over 25 years, and yet change is never so sustained and sustainable as when it begins from within. Criticality and positivity are two seemingly disparate parts of my journey. How to treat them non-dually? How to keep both in view? How to honor all my roots, not just the ones that sit well with one circle of friends or another? These are among the questions I hope explicitly to explore in my blog The Considered Kula.

  20. […] via What is Grounded Spirituality? | elephant journal. […]

  21. Wonderful, Ben. Thank you! 🙂 I keep thinking of the phrase "So heavenly minded that he's no earthly good!" We are taught this idea that heaven is someplace beyond where we are right now…..I know I believed this at one time. Unfortuately, that belief caused me to focus on some great home away from home and to neglect where I was at the moment and to ignore those around me- to actually step OVER others in an effort to earn my place in heaven- to reject, dismiss, and condemn those who didn't believe as I did. It took a very long time to shed those beliefs and to realize my responsibility is HERE and not to some great "pie in the sky!" It is easy to ignore or neglect what we HAVE when we think something better is waiting for us…….
    I intend to share your post…. Thanks again.

  22. Ben_Ralston says:

    "So heavenly minded that he's no earthly good!" – what a great phrase, i'd never heard of it before.
    I also believed it though.
    Thanks for sharing Cynthia…

  23. kimberely says:

    This is my work, my calling, to help those find their way with all that you speak of: the awareness of being Divinely Human here on Earth. Why else did we choose to take form in a human body this time around? Humanity offers intense, wonderful and unique lessons for shifting through karma. Wonderful post.

  24. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thank you, and keep doing your wonderful work. We all need it!

  25. offtheravenstongue says:

    I enjoyed this topic. Very much so; It is what I have been focusing on in my life at the moment. I am an avid astral traveler and psychic dreamer and it has been important in my life to learn to ground and manifest energy in the physical plane. What a treat to stumble onto this article. Thank you for feeling, then sharing.