The gifts of our spiritual nature are undoubtedly fascinating. But are spiritual gifts and abilities a blessing or curse? It turns out there are a lot of factors involved which make the desirable or undesirable.
Some see these gifts as “a divine power,” while others see them as natural aspects of human nature. Generally speaking, the value of these gifts falls into two primary groups. One group defines them as tools or processes for consciousness development. The second group defines them as philosophical virtues and theological links.
There are many different ways to define spiritual gifts and abilities. It all depends on the culture. Come and see which of these gifts resonate with you.
“It depends” is the best answer to most legal questions. And it is often the best answer for many things on the subject of spirituality. Whether spiritual gifts are a blessing or a curse depends. It depends on where you live and the time in history in which you are born. Whether these gifts and talents are good or bad is determined by your culture.
Let’s Define Spiritual Gifts and Abilities
Western religion dominates one-half of the world’s population. You know them as the Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This group defines them as philosophical attributes, physical talents, or theological links.
Christianity has the most followers, so its beliefs dominate the cultural narrative. That means their interpretations of these gifts are the most common. So, we’ll start there with our investigation. Christianity teaches these gifts develop when you become a believer. In essence, these gifts are dormant until the supernatural power of the church opens them.
In other words, these gifts are given for the use and benefit of the entire church. This last aspect is a common theme for the Abrahamic religions. All three use these spiritual aspects to strengthen their dominance. They do not see them as tools for consciousness development.
Christian Spiritual Gifts and Abilities
The Christian list for these gifts comes from five primary texts of the canon of New Testament books.
Romans 12 verses 6-8 lists eight traits, from practical skills to the supernatural. These eight elements are prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, and mercy.
1 Corinthians 12 verses 8–10 This section has nine very diverse elements in addition to wisdom. This list includes knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, and prophecy. They have specialized spiritual skills in distinguishing between good and evil spirits. Plus, it adds speaking in unknown languages and interpreting them.
1 Corinthians 12 verses 28–30. These verses define spiritual gifts and abilities as offices or job descriptions. It lists the offices or ranking of spiritual people. The highest office is the apostle, then prophet, and teacher. The skills include performing miracles and healing. Beginning-level skills include being kind and helpful, organizing, and speaking unknown languages.
Ephesians 4 verse 11 offers another list of job descriptions. It lists the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher.
1 Peter 4 verse 11 talks about not questioning the validity of those who claim to speak in the name of God. In other words, trust the direction of the priest or pastor.
There are three basic groupings within this worldview. The most recent Protestant version includes seven main attributes.
7) Fear of God
The Catholic tradition follows the list of twelve fruits of the spirit Galatians 5 22-23:
12) Self-control referring to chastity
The third group includes supernatural gifts and manifestations. Sometimes, these abilities are referred to as extraordinary or charismatic gifts. These are the development of the “word of faith movement,” which began in the 1950s. This gives us different ways to define spiritual gifts and abilities as signs, wonders, and powers. These abilities include the following nine attributes.
1) The word of wisdom
2) The word of knowledge
3) Extraordinary Faith
4) The gifts of healing
5) The gift of miracles
6) The ability to prophesize
7) Discernment of spirits
8) Speaking in unknown languages
9) The ability to interpret these unknown languages
In Christianity, these gifts range from mental abilities to supernatural powers. When are spiritual gifts and abilities a blessing or a curse in this paradigm? Developing your spiritual gifts in a way that supports their narrative is treated as a blessing. On the other hand, if your spiritual talents and inclinations fall outside of these parameters, then your gifts become a curse. We’ll next discuss the gifts in the other branches of the Abrahamic tree.
Spiritual Gifts of Islam
Have you ever wondered about how Islam defines these gifts? Have you heard of “maqamat” or stages of spiritual excellence? The Islamic gifts of the spirit come from the Quranic verses and Hadiths. Here, we find details about the maqamat or spiritual stations.
In Islam, these natural gifts are virtues or qualities one can cultivate. These help the devotee to develop a deeper connection with Allah and attain a higher level of spiritual consciousness.
The first spiritual gift in Islam is the gift of sabr or patience. This gift is highlighted in several verses of the Quran. Surah Al-Baqarah verse 155, where Allah says, “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives. But will give good tidings to the patient who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.”
The second spiritual gift in Islam is the gift of tawakkul or reliance on Allah. This directive is taught as a gift and in Hadiths. One narrated by Ibn Abbas reads, “If you put your trust in Allah with due reliance, He will provide you with sustenance. For He provides for birds who go forth hungry in the morning and return with a full belly in the evening.”
The third spiritual gift in Islam is the gift of husn al-khula or good character. This gift is highlighted in the Hadith, where the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, “I have been sent to perfect good character.” This gift is crucial as it is the foundation of all others.
The fourth spiritual gift in Islam is the gift of tawbah or repentance. This gift is emphasized in the Quran, verses Surah Az-Zumar and 53. Here Allah says, “Say, ‘O My servants who have exceeded the limits against themselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.'”
The fifth spiritual gift in Islam is the gift of zuhd or detachment from the dunya or worldly affairs. This gift is also emphasized in Hadiths. One narrated by Abu Hurairah, where the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, “Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler.”
The Islamic faith teaches that cultivating these qualities strengthens our relationship with Allah. And in doing so, develop virtues that benefit us in this world and the hereafter. These gifts fall under the umbrella of philosophical and character aspirations. If a Muslim asks are spiritual gifts and abilities a blessing or a curse, the answer is anything that they view as a flawed character. What exemplifies poor character?
First, communicating lies. Anything that disparages or disrespects the prophet Mohamad is considered a lie against Allah. Second, Mocky of the teachings of Mohamad is viewed as a sin. There are seven major sins in Islam outlined in the Quoran:
Hadith about major sins in Islam
1. Shirk (Worshiping other Gods or other religions)
3. Killing (Except where permitted by Allah)
4. Consuming riba, paying or charging interest on loans
5. Consuming orphans’ wealth, not caring for orphans
6. Fleeing from the battlefield, desertion.
7. Accusing an innocent woman of adultery
Why does false accusation rise to the top seven sins? This is because adultery has severe punishments. Men and women involved in the sinful act of Zina’s pre-marital sex are given 100 lashes. But adulterers are punished by stoning to death, also known as Rajm or flogging to end.
Spiritual Gifts of Judaism
There are two primary sources for the teachings of Judaism, the Torah and the Talmud. Here are some references to these gifts in the Torah:
1. Prophecy: In Numbers 11:24-30, Eldad and Medad prophesized in the camp of Israel. This event demonstrated that prophetic gifts are not exclusive to a select group of people. Anyone can receive this spiritual gift and use it to glorify God. Prophecy: This is the most well-known spiritual gift in Judaism. If one is blessed with it, one can receive messages from God and communicate them to others. These messages were given to prophets in ancient times.
2. Wisdom: This gift enables one to grasp life’s profound mysteries. According to Jewish thought, Solomon was the wisest of all people to have ever lived, and it is said that he inherited this gift from his father, King David.
3. Healing: In Exodus 15:26, God promises to heal and protect us if we follow His commands. This is a significant spiritual gift for those who feel called to the medical profession or work as caregivers.
4. Discernment of spirits: In Genesis 41:15-36, Joseph interprets the pharaoh’s dreams. God may reveal insights through the Holy Spirit that allow us to identify and analyze the root cause of certain situations or behaviors.
5. Teaching: In Deuteronomy 4:1, Moses instructs to teach the commandments of God. The gift of teaching enables us to communicate biblical truths in a way that helps others understand and grow in their faith.
The Talmud is an extensive collection of Jewish literature that contains the core teachings of Judaism. It is considered one of the central texts of the Jewish religion and includes a wealth of knowledge and wisdom about the Jewish faith.
To truly understand the depth and vastness of Judaism, one must delve into its supernatural gifts. Have you heard of the term ‘Ruach HaKodesh’? It refers to the Divine Inspiration or the gift of the Holy Spirit. These magical abilities are prominent in the Torah. According to Jewish teaching, these gifts were given to the Jewish people to help them connect with and serve God in their earthly lives.
Here are some key references to these gifts in the Talmud and what they can teach us about our spiritual growth.
1. Wisdom – Chochmah
One of the most prominent spiritual talents mentioned in the Talmud is wisdom or “chochmah” in Hebrew. Chochmah refers to the ability to see the world and its mysteries with a deeper understanding and insight. Rabbi Akiva, a prominent Jewish sage, taught that studying the Torah is the key to wisdom and cultivating this gift.
2. Understanding – Binah
Another essential spiritual and intellectual gift is understanding, or “binah” in Hebrew. This gift refers to critical thinking abilities. The cultivation of critical thinking is necessary for the proper interpretation of the Torah.
3. Knowledge – Da’at
Knowledge, or “da’at” in Hebrew, is also a meaningful spiritual gift discussed in the Talmud. This gift refers to the acquisition of spiritual knowledge and the ability to integrate this knowledge into one’s life. Knowledge is developed through studying the Torah, reflection, and personal experience.
4. Fear of God – Yirat Shamayim
Another spiritual gift discussed in the Talmud is the fear of God or “yirat shamayim” in Hebrew. Yirat shamayim refers to the deep reverence and awe towards God and recognizing God’s presence in all things. The Talmud teaches that this gift is essential for achieving spiritual growth and fulfilling one’s purpose in life. Teaching the fear of an imaginary friend to define spiritual gifts and abilities is a stretch.
5. Love – Ahavah
Finally, love, or “ahavah” in Hebrew, is an essential spiritual gift discussed in the Talmud. This gift refers to loving God and others deeply and unconditionally. The Talmud teaches that the cultivation of ahavah is vital for spiritual growth.
Judaism places high importance on developing these supernatural, character, and philosophical attributes. From prophecy to divine healing, these gifts are a testament to the beauty of the human spirit. These treasures are the gifts of our ancestors passed down through the generations. Learning how to access and develop them fully will enable us to enrich the lives of everyone we touch in our circle of influence.
Summation of Western Theology and the Spiritual Gifts
Each religious tradition has its own way of interpreting these qualities of the human spirit. When are spiritual gifts and abilities a blessing or a curse? If your spiritual talents support your chosen religion, it is a blessing. If it does not, then it is a curse. Each religion defines these gifts to preserve its particular theological point of view.
Many attributes or virtues are abilities exhibited by magicians and fortunetellers. If we learn to understand these supernatural spiritual gifts, we can determine the authentic from the fakes. Western theology is absent concert tools to find and develop these gifts. They rely on philosophical aspirations rather than tools to explore consciousness.
Western religion shows us different ways to define spiritual gifts and abilities. They are not the first cultures to use these terms to describe the natural skills and supernatural powers that are a part of human nature.
Gifts of The Spirit in Pre-Abrahamic Cultures
The concept of spiritual or supernatural abilities existed long before organized religion. It was borrowed by Western theology along with everything else it claims as its own. It is no secret that the Abrahamic traditions are the rebranding of earlier religions.
Developing Your Spiritual Gifts of Consciousness
Many cultures recognize the existence of these higher attributes of the human spirit. Long before the Abrahamic traditions, these qualities were cultivated in indigenous cultures. For example, native American tribes had shamans who communicated with spirits to obtain healing. Similarly, ancient Egyptian practices involved invoking these gifts and abilities through ritualistic practices.
One of the earliest documented references to spiritual gifts comes from ancient Greece. Plato and Aristotle wrote about the concept of a “Daemon.” This is a divine entity that acts as a spirit guide and advisor. This guide provided individuals with unique abilities and talents.
The ancient Chinese concept of “Qi” refers to the body’s life force and its connection to the spirit world. Qi Gong and Tai Chi practitioners understand the importance of cultivating Qi energy. They harness it to facilitate healing.
Today, many people who do not identify with organized religion recognize the existence of these gifts. When they seek help connecting with these gifts, they often turn to fortunetellers or channelers. Psychics, mediums, and other practitioners of divination have long been known for their use or sale of their unique abilities.
These gifts and abilities are not limited to any particular religion or culture. It is a universal concept that transcends boundaries. Whether you are religious or not, cultivating your spiritual gifts can be beneficial. It can provide a deeper connection to your higher self and the world around you.
Are Spiritual Gifts and Abilities a Blessing or a Curse?
So, if you live in a culture dominated by Western organized religion, your natural spiritual abilities are considered a curse. Here’s why. They believe these innate talents and skills are evil.
Many of the tools for exploring consciousness are considered natural gifts and abilities we all possess. Our consciousness is designed to be able to reach higher states of consciousness. So, These natural “gifts of the spirit” threaten the superiority of the Abrahamic paradigm. These gifts compete directly with the theology of Western religion. Their belief systems are a rebranding of the ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Assyrian. This is the bedrock of mythological superstition in Western culture. These systems are devoid of any processes for consciousness development.
So, the persecution of those who taught about these natural abilities was a decision to eliminate the competition. The church uses fear of these natural gifts to keep you from them.
Those who define spiritual gifts and abilities as higher states of consciousness must be careful. If they live in a society dominated by Western religion, their gifts are evil. To keep from being persecuted, they must find a way to tie their gifts to their mythology. Many so-called Christian and Islamic mystics were successful in doing this. After all, it doesn’t just involve a difference of opinion. It is a death sentence to be declared a heretic.
Our indigenous ancestors define spiritual gifts and abilities as blessings. Indigenous cultures around the world still revere those born with unique spiritual abilities. Some are born as mystics, empaths, and healers. These people provide a variety of counseling, healing, and guidance. These gifts are viable and valuable to both the individual and the community. And these gifts are available to a certain degree to everyone.
Indigenous cultures created spiritual technologies for developing your spiritual gifts. Exploring the inner world was important to them. They were as curious about consciousness as we are today. Many people in the community benefited from their research into using plants to treat illnesses. Of course, this was before the Abrahamic religions became the dominant worldview.
Fear, Banish, or Relabel
These gifted individuals keep appearing in the culture. So, Western religion developed three strategies to handle them. First, use fear to keep people from exploring any latent abilities. Second, banish anyone who talks about them. Excommunicate those who use them. And third, relabel some of the gifts to make them legitimate. This is how they assimilate other systems into the paradigm. That is, as long as you convert to the dominant Abrahamic mythology in the culture.
Western religion has always viewed people with these abilities as threats. These gifts provide everything they could not. The labels of heretics, sorcerers, and witches are a perfect example of how a culture demonizes and marginalizes a group of people. In doing so, they could then persecute these people with the support of the community. The church sought to exterminate their gifts to eliminate the completion, but these individuals kept being born.
The Legacy of Persecution
Public torture and confiscation of property have that effect. The gifts are a blessing if you are assimilated into the dominant Abrahamic mythology. These abilities become a curse if you refuse assimilation. So, these gifts are a blessing or a curse, depending on the controlling paradigm. Because of the fear of persecution, some of the more well-known public figures publicly joined the dominant religion.
One way to avoid persecution is to become a convert. You must find a way to define spiritual gifts and abilities so that they align with their dogma.
Mysticism has an exciting history in the Abrahamic traditions. The well-known heretics or influential mystics became members to escape persecution. For example, Rumi is a Persian poet adopted by the Muslims, and Christianity adopted Evelyn Underhill. Her writings were so well-known that her writings could not be ignored. Despite the obvious occult nature of her works, she was labeled a Christian mystic. (1)
The persecution of the inquisitions and crusades turned into the institutions of insane asylums. And today, modern medicine still labels people who exhibit these gifts as mentally ill because they do not understand them. They have no one to help them understand and control their gifts. We must learn how to expand awareness and open doors to other states of consciousness. Some natural shamans slip in and out of states of consciousness, not knowing how to control and direct their gifts. Empaths are bombarded with negative feelings and don’t know how to protect themselves so they can use their talents for healing.
The persecution of the Dark Ages is not over. It continues today. Extremism on both ends of the Abrahamic paradigm, Christian and Islamic, fans the flames of persecution.
The gifts of our spiritual nature are a unique aspect of every individual. These gifts vary from one person to another and often manifest in different ways, from prophesying and healing to speaking in tongues.
Developing your spiritual gifts is a deeply personal experience. This journey can lead to significant personal growth, but it can also be a daunting experience. You will need to unlock your gifts with the proper tools. Some cultures consider these gifts a blessing, while others consider them a curse.
One cannot deny the benefits of developing these gifts of consciousness. For starters, they offer a deep sense of connection and fulfillment. The process of discovering these talents provides a sense of purpose.
Furthermore, developing your spiritual gifts helps you tap into your intuition. This can lead to a greater understanding of yourself and others. These gifts are also tools that can open up new avenues for service and leadership, allowing you to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
On the other hand, these natural gifts can be a curse for some individuals who live in an oppressive culture dominated by organized religion. The fear of being ostracized or ridiculed by others can be a significant source of stress, leading to isolation and depression.
In some cases, these gifts and abilities can also lead to feelings of inadequacy. Our culture does not recognize these gifts. So, one must grapple with self-doubt and the responsibility of such gifts. These gifts can sometimes be seen as a burden. This leads to feelings of obligation or pressure to use that gift for the benefit of others.
So why does Western religion persecute these natural spiritual gifts and abilities? One reason is fear. These gifts threaten The established religious order because they challenge the status quo. Western religion fears they will lose their power and authority if they acknowledge these gifts.
Another reason is ignorance. Many in Western religion don’t understand these gifts. So, they dismiss them as false or demonic if they don’t fit within their hierarchy. They fail to see the beauty and power of these gifts as tools of consciousness.
In conclusion, there are different ways to define spiritual gifts and abilities in any culture. Depending on who is in charge of the cultural narrative, they can be a blessing or a curse. Those in charge determine how they are perceived and used. In cultures dominated by Western religion, these gifts are seen as evil unless they further the objectives of the religion. But despite this persecution, people are still learning how to access these supernatural aspects of the human spirit.
(1) Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness