What Is Spirituality?abracad, · Categories: purpose, spirituality
A Definition of Spirituality
Despite the incredible technological progress of recent years the period has also seen a massive resurgence of interest in what might be termed "Spiritual" matters, ie the desire to seek and understand a deeper reality that lies beyond the superficiality of the material plane. This renewed search for a more profound knowledge goes beyond the solutions offered by conventional religions and has been labeled by some "New Age Spirituality".
But what exactly is Spirituality, and what might it have to offer us?
As human beings we are physical entities, made of flesh, blood, atoms and molecules. We inhabit a physical universe, that though amazing in its scale and complexity, is seemingly indifferent to our very existence.
Science has given us the power to both understand and control our environment to a very great degree. Science has given us TV, mobile phones, the Internet, taken us to the moon and allowed us to cure countless diseases that were previously fatal.
That same science has also given us a highly detailed (though still incomplete) knowledge of the workings of our universe and of our own origins through the process of evolution.
But despite all this many of us experience a sense of incompleteness; a feeling there is something else altogether more significant than carrying the technology industry's latest little plastic gadget. And despite all the undoubted achievements of centuries of science this is a feeling that not only hasn't gone away, but is actually increasing.
Human development has always been accompanied by the need to believe in unseen forces of a somehow different dimension of experience to our own. This need began with attempted explanations for night and day, the seasons, and the fruits of the earth which support and nourished us. Over time it became exemplified by the great diversity of religious faiths which have grown and continue to attract mass following.
Just as physical life forms continually evolve (including humans), so does our consciousness and understanding - at both a personal and global level. The fundamental Spiritual nature of all that exists may some day be taken for granted, across cultures and the world. If so, it won't remove the need to live life and face its many issues. But it would signal an end to war, crime, and self-centered thinking.
The resurgence of interest in Spiritual matters, the "New Age Spirituality", may represent a step forward in man's evolution of consciousness to a world where Spiritual principles play a greater role in everyday life. We may be standing at the threshold of a world of mutual cooperation; one without war, crime, self-centeredness, borders, nationhood, and authoritarian government.
Spirituality is the process of re-discovering that greater, hidden, non-physical realm of which we all ultimately belong.
Evidence of Spirit
Despite the enormous progress made by science and technology our knowledge is inevitably limited. There is a veil beyond which must remain hidden to us in human form. Scientifically this limitation on knowledge is described by widely accepted concepts such as quantum indeterminacy and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.
But even science can offer glimpses into that hidden world. The comparatively recent field of parapsychology has produced impressive evidence that some people, under some circumstances, appear to be able to access knowledge and influence the material world in ways that should not be physically possible.
Despite amassing an impressive body of statistically sound evidence, to levels of significance that go far beyond the requirements of other research areas, there are many "skeptics" within the scientific community who refuse to even recognize parapsychology as a legitimate discipline. Perhaps this is because an understanding of the mechanism of how these so-called psi faculties may operate remains elusive, and scientifically that which cannot be explained must be rejected.
To learn more about the scientific evidence supporting the existence of a non-physical (ie Spiritual) reality see:
- Where Science and Magic Meet, Serena Roney-Dougal PhD
- The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal Is Bringing Science and Spirit Together, Charles T. Tart
- Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality, Dean Radin
Many of us have spontaneously experienced unexplainable events. These range from (most commonly) knowing who's calling before answering the phone, to seeing apparitions of departed loved ones (or others), to having premonitions of major events. We all experience coincidences from time to time, and mathematically these are occasionally inevitable by pure chance, but seem to happen way more often than that. From a Spiritual perspective nothing happens by chance, everything is linked by a vast network of hidden coincidences. Visionary psychologist C. G. Jung termed these hidden connections Synchronicity. The author has had several experiences of dreams foretelling the near future, albeit at a most mundane level.Mankind has always had an innate need to believe in some unseen power, and even into the 21st century organized faith (religion) is flourishing.
We exist in human form for a reason. Before being born into this world in our present form we decided, in conjunction with our Spiritual guides, the purpose for our incarnation; the circumstances into which we would be born, the experiences we would seek, and the lessons we would try to learn. Spirituality is not an excuse to abdicate the purpose we were born to fulfill. To do so will most likely result in the need to repeat any lessons we've avoided along our present journey.
Life is, at times, hard; something many find difficult to reconcile with the notion of a loving God. But if life wasn't challenging it would have little ultimate purpose.
For the same reason, knowledge of our true Spiritual nature is elusive. The physical realm is a different kind of being to the Spiritual, Spiritualists often talk about different frequencies of vibration between the two worlds. Thus it takes effort to re-discover our own Spirituality, the effort to raise our personal "vibration". If all were simply revealed, would we really tackle the many obstacles that, though sometimes uncomfortable, are the only route to personal growth?
Our earth life is, to a great extent, a process of finding our way home. We are inherently Spiritual beings. We are Spirit, we cannot stop being Spirit any more than a dog can stop being a dog or a rock can be anything other than a rock. We are currently undertaking a journey of discovery, a journey that is finite shall someday lead us back to our origin and source.
It's as though we are on a journey with only sketchy memories of home. We are wanderers of purpose, gathering experience to some day carry with us when we return to our source.
So, maybe we are part of some greater Spiritual reality. For this lifetime it's as distant as wakefulness is from the dream state. Why should we bother exploring Spirituality rather than getting on with making the best of the here and now?
Ultimately whether and to what extent we consciously embrace Spirituality is a question for the individual, partly of free choice but partly also the result of pre-determined life choices.
We've each chosen our current life for a reason, and as such have the duty to engage with our material lives to fulfill the purpose of our incarnation.
For some that material engagement is the main reason for their being. They are affected to a great extent by the physical senses, seek to acquire financial wealth, possessions and status, and the material comforts these bring.
Others choose, or are drawn to, helping their fellow man through the numerous available paths of service. And others yet find greatest satisfaction in exploring the inner world through academic study, contemplation or meditative, religious or Spiritual practice.
"All the world's a stage…" philosophized Shakespeare, and in a single lifetime we act out many roles - some chosen, others thrust upon us. Not for the amusement of the "Gods", but to amass the knowledge that fuels the relentless evolution of Spirit. Each of these roles is fine, and you will know instinctively which is the way for you.
Even for the "materially" oriented, just knowing about (the possibility of) Spirit in the back of their minds helps keep life's various issues in perspective, providing a foundation upon which life's many transitory happenings may rest. Though one's Spiritual foundation will evolve over time and with experience, it's existence will remain as all else comes and goes. As Kipling said: "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same…"
Our main purpose is the experience we gain and the lessons we learn. If we can serve others and find some personal happiness, that is great. But these things are fleeting, it is only experience (if anything) that remains.
How Can I Become More Spiritual?
Maybe we wish to further pursue a Spiritual pathway, and if we do it's because it's part of our chosen plan for this life. How might we do this?
Spirituality isn't an all or nothing pursuit. The first step is the growing sense of awareness that we are more than our physical body, that reality is more than the universe described by scientific theory, that we are part of something infinitely greater.
The Spiritual pathway is one that may be pursued to varying degrees, to the extent with which we are comfortable, ranging from the materialist to the monk.
There is no single right way to be Spiritual. Spirituality is not a specific religion or philosophy, but it may be found within (and beyond) many such approaches. As individuals we carry an innate sense of what is right for us, and part of our reason for being is finding the personal pathway that best works for us.
A small number of people have the "calling" to subordinate the material realm in favor of a primarily Spiritual existence, this may take the form of becoming a monk or priest or the pursuit of a more personal lifestyle.
Personal Spiritual evolution may take a variety of forms.
Organized religions embody the teachings of highly advanced souls and provide a Spiritual framework for billions of people around the world. The sense of togetherness found in religion can be both comforting and inspirational. However, one needs to maintain an awareness that the teachings of the major religions have, over the centuries, been colored significantly by the egos of men over the centuries.
Reading the Spiritual philosophies of others can both build knowledge and inspire the reader to progress along their personal pathway. Read widely, both classic works whose continued availability demonstrates their timeless value, and select from the vast amount of contemporary literature. Try to transcend the passing fads and empty promises to make you rich quick and with minimal effort.
We are privileged to live in the Internet era where vast quantities of ideas are available at the push of a button from the comfort of our armchair. Be discriminating. Not everything that appears on your computer screen is true. Listen to your intuition and accept only what feels right. That's not to say we shouldn't challenge existing ideas, indeed we must often do so to progress further, but blind acceptance is only likely to result in greater confusion.
Joining a less conventional group or circle might be beneficial. Eg most Spiritualist meetings are open to the public and welcome strangers; only if you feel it's right should you take the next step and join a development circle. Once again the Internet can direct you to those initial openings.
Meditation is a powerful stimulus to awakening one's own Spirituality. Meditation doesn't have to mean sitting cross-legged chanting mantras for hours on end. It can just be making a little time for yourself each day, time in which you put aside the numerous worldly demands we all constantly face. By quieting the outer noise one begins to become aware of the ever-present but usually subdued inner (Spiritual) voice.
Though it sounds easy, the discipline of meditation can be immensely difficult to maintain. Build it into your schedule, and don't be over-demanding - it's better to meditate for 5 minutes than to not meditate for 2 hours! You'll find your materially-oriented mind constantly nags about our worldly concerns. Don't fight it, just acknowledge, and let go.
Try to adopt a more Spiritual approach to interpreting and dealing with external stimuli. Before making a purely materialistic reaction, take a second to re-examine the situation from a Spiritual perspective. Maybe you'll still go with that first instinct, but at least you've confirmed it, and just occasionally you might realize something bigger is going on and act accordingly.
About the author
The author makes no claim to be any kind of Spiritual master. Instead, following many years of depression of varying degrees of severity, it is only through starting out along a Spiritual pathway as a complete novice that some sense to this frequently irrational world began to emerge, and with it a growing understanding of personal purpose and feeling of inner harmony. Spirituality is a journey on which each traveler must seek out his/her own way. What works for one is unlikely to do so for another. Use these words and the many other resources on this site and elsewhere as inspiration to begin your own journey home, by whatever route it may take you.
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