Towards a Definition
Optimal Functioning is a way to describe the best possible style of psychological functioning. We avoid the use of words as perfect or ideal by humble precaution, because at this moment, in our neurotic society and with psychological science still developing, it is hard to define already now what the ideal could be alike. Optimal indicates the best approach we can actually think of.
If we define spirituality as an conscious way of living, optimal functioning and spiritual living become synonymous.
In this respect we don't reduce Spirituality to a mere internal mental activity with agreeable associations and feelings, but as a complete set of consciousness, feelings and a special kind of behaviour. The consciousness of the existential facts and processes of cosmic evolution, and our role in this continuous event, is uncomplete unless it is sustained by an active experience of our human vocation, and the emotional involvement in this experience. In fact, doing and feeling are parts of this consciousness, rather than associated but separate achievements.
All ancient kinds of wisdom, from Gnosis to Zen, including the spiritual life of active monks and jesuits, knew that real consciousness (or praying by the way) can only be achieved by an integration of knowing, feeling and doing. The western reduction of wisdom to passive, non-committed knowledge is a miserable impoverishment.
Method. Perhaps the best way to describe such an optimal functioning is (1) to look at the fundamental laws of existence and evolution, and to apply them to human functioning; and/or (2) to study the several functions of human mind, and to elaborate the optimal conditions for those functions, and to combine them into a harmonious personality. If the results of both approaches coincide, we have an additional argument for the plausibility of this decription. This work is done in the formulation of the sense of life and existence.
An optimally functioning personality tries to realize at the same time his evolutionary vocation, and his subjective needs. It's a happy coincidence that both approaches -with the current views of Evolutionism and Psychology- converge to the same conclusions.
That means that optimal functioning consists in wholly and fully satisfying one's subjective needs, by influencing our surrounding reality, human, natural and technical, and eventually cosmic, effectively inducing an integration of all existing and latent possibilities. In other words: trying to produce the highest possible complexification and consciousness.
In compliance with the fundamental characteristics of cosmic evolution, their initiatives rather tend to enhance the functioning of each system they interact with. A "spiritual" person always tries to improve one's environment, from one's relationship with one's partner and colleagues, to the organization and functioning of the system in which one participates. Optimally functioning, or spiritually conscious people can be recognized at the fact they try to leave the world better than they found it, at every level they can reach.
Of course, their activities have to be constructive iand beautiful in the deepest sense of this word --i.e. to install better integrations. They rather try to construct better and more valuable things, than fight the "bad" situations, because they don't believe that beauty and quality automatically emerge as a result of punishment and/or destruction. Mankind is more served with creators than with regulators.
Their attitude is positive, turning each frustration into an enhanced experience and a boosted motivation and creativity, enabling them to fertilize all latent possibilities of their own personality, fellow humans and reality in general.
A constant growth of their psychological aptitudes is essential, as a local reflection of the universal evolutionary tendency. This implies a critical but integrative approach and a conscious motivation for creative experiment and development.
In their relationships with other people, initimate as well as professional, their interaction and communication is integrative, because they are aware that each of us can contribute to this sublime goal, and that the probability that a new idea introduces some good elements is much more plausible than that is wrong.
And, last but not least, people with a consciousness at a Noospheric level try to contact each other, not only for mutual inspiration and support in this ambitious project, but also because Noosphere in itself means shared consciousness, intensive synergy and true fellowship. In the past centuries, organizations as religious orders, political parties, freemasonry and other esoteric societies were necessary to realize this synergy. In the near future, Internet enables this kind of global esprit de corps.
Posted 11/01 - Latest update: 2/3/02. Thanks to Mark Robertson.