During my first week on campus at Yale for graduate school, long ago and far away, I sat down with a famous theologian, Hans Frei, then Master of Ezra Stiles College, in his office, and at one point during our long and enjoyable conversation, he said to me:
Too many people sip the foam from the beer of life, but never drink the beer.
That vivid image has stayed with me over the years.
When I was writing the book If Aristotle Ran General Motors: The New Soul of Business many years later, I challenged myself to come to a new understanding of true spirituality, in all its forms - across religions, continents, eras, ages, and practices, and even apart from any religious traditions whatsoever. I worked hard to penetrate down to a core sensibility, and discovered that it's all about:
Depth and Connectedness.
The truly spiritual person dives deep, never satisfied with merely the surface of things, however much he or she may delight in, and thoroughly enjoy, the sparkle of that foam. In fact, the spiritual person can appreciate surfaces more, through having experienced the depths. But that person ultimately drinks the beer itself, in all its rich, heady aroma and full bodied taste. The beer then refreshes, nourishes, and perhaps even intoxicates the mind just enough to allow it to enter into new perspectives and sensibilities.
That's half the formula. And then, below the different, divergent surfaces of things, far beneath the bubbling foam, the spiritual sensibility connects things up, seeing unity wherever it's to be found, and creating it where it can't yet be seen.
Depth and connectedness: the rich reality beneath, and the true unity throughout. The genuinely spiritual person finds, attains, lives, and shares both of these things through love.
Taste the beer today. And share.