Spirit literally means that which gives life to a system. In terms of quantum physics, spirit is energy that fills each and every atom, and it is conscious, aware, and ‘can think’. In spite of its vastness, it functions as an indivisible and inseparable single field of energy. It is known by various terms: Universal Consciousness, Higher Self, and Infinite Self. In most religions, it is called God. Since it is present in all beings, Universal Consciousness perceives all beings as its inseparable parts and hence wants all beings to be happy. This is love. Its love is unlimited and unconditional. Spirituality is the state of being one with the spirit. Spirituality involves an inner transformation: a shift from our current identification with the physical body or matter to the identification with the spirit or energy. As we become one with the spirit (Universal Consciousness), we gain access to its love and become better human beings with unconditional love.

Recent discoveries in quantum physics, consciousness studies, and studies on near-death experiences suggest that our brain does not produce consciousness as previously believed but receives it from the Universal Consciousness. Research in neuroscience reveals that unconditional love, a unique quality of the Universal Consciousness, is hardwired in our brain. But, the brain’s neuroplasticity allows our likes and dislikes to be soft-wired in the brain and makes us self-centered. The soft-wired self-centeredness prevents us from being guided by the hardwired love. However, the good news is the self-centeredness is soft-wired and therefore can be changed. From this perspective, spirituality means re-wiring the brain or dissolving the soft-wired self-centeredness. It is an inner transformation which makes us better human beings. Once it is done, the hardwired love would be liberated and could guide our life, our relationships with fellow human beings and nature.

How could spirituality promote our professionalism? To promote professionalism, we acquire more knowledge and skills that are relevant to our professions, and there are many organisations and institutes which provides educational programmes for professional development. However, if spiritual transformation has not taken place within us and our thoughts and actions are guided by the soft-wired self-centeredness and greed, we are most likely to use professional knowledge and skills for our own advantage rather than for the well-being of society. Hence, professionalism needs both outer changes—acquiring knowledge and skills as well as inner-changes—developing the capacity to use the knowledge and skills for the well-being of society. This is where spirituality becomes important for professionalism. It enables professionals to perform their profession as a service. Thus, both outer and inner changes are equally important to enhance professionalism - like a bird needs both its wings to fly.

 Warwick Smith/ Fairfax NZ