What Is Spirituality?
Spirituality is a broad term which encompasses many concepts.
In folk belief, “spirit” is the vital principle or animating force within all living things.
The term “spirit” can also be referred to as God, the Universe, the divine, the field, Consciousness, Source, spirit, and many others.
Regardless of the terminology, spirituality as an umbrella term is an awareness of something beyond yourself as an individual human being. It is an innate, intrinsic sense and connection to knowing that what you are is part of a bigger whole. An overarching intelligence that resides within us all and within everything. This intelligence is what created the universe, the planet Earth, the human species, you, the being that you are. This intelligence is the reason for everything.
Understanding The Big Questions
A spiritual path or spiritual journey is the name given to the very personal path of understanding and knowing this greater intelligence and the meaning of life, and all the questions that arise as a result of this.
These “big” questions may be different for everyone, but include things like:
- Who am I? What am !?
- Why am I here? Why are we all here?
- What is the meaning of life? What is the point of life?
- What is God? Is God real?
- Why is there bad and evil and suffering and pain in the world?
- What is my purpose? How do I find my purpose?
- Is there life after death?
- And on it goes.
The key connection between the questions that take us on a spiritual path is the desire for a deeper understanding not only of yourself, but also the phenomenon of life, and existence, and everything beyond you as an individual. Spirituality requires a journey internally within you, as well as externally into the world and the universe in order to know and understand what is.
To search for answers to these questions can overlap into the realm of science, religion, history, philosophy, psychology and every aspect of life and everything we know. It can take the form of reading, talking, attending events, forums, workshop, or simply asking the questions and allowing the answers to come in a natural way.
Spirituality is about uncovering pieces of the puzzle and putting them together to explain the whole, in an objective way that works and makes sense for you.
To start on a spiritual path requires an objective view or perspective of the world.
Everything that you have been taught and told in your life is through the filtered perspective of one or more individuals and their own experiences and view of the world.
A true spiritual perspective first requires one to become aware of the ideas, ideals, myths, beliefs and social constructs created by human beings on planet Earth, that you have adopted as part of your identity, or the way you see the world.
Regardless of whether these views are right or wrong, good or bad, or do or don’t work for you… spirituality first requires understanding what you think you know, and then start to question everything.
It is the process of curiosity, questioning, probing, gathering data, and seeing all the different possible perspectives to find an objective truth,
The process of finding objective truth can be long. As new information arises it is important to bring that into the context of what you think you know, and adjust any world views or perspectives you may have to accommodate the new information.
It is the ability to be open and receive different information and consider different possibilities to what you know that facilitates the process of personal growth, development and awareness that a spiritual path provides.
True spirituality looks to find the objective truth of everything that exists regardless of what any individual or organization may believe of think.
What Spirituality Is NOT
Part of the process of understanding what spirituality is, also requires an understanding of what spirituality is NOT…
Spirituality is NOT organized religion or, even “new age” practices and ideals. Because these practices do not come from objective perspectives of eternal truth. They are controlled constructs of humans, derived from stories, myths, and man-made values and ideals.
Spirituality is NOT a single answer from a guru. It cannot be learned from one individual or book or course, because their spiritual perspective of the world can never be truly objective. It is always filtered by their own personal perspectives. No-one is a guru, they are just an individual on a spiritual path, just like you, who may have learned some stuff along the way that they can share.
Spirituality is NOT easy. You don’t just wake up one day spiritual and enlightened. Spirituality is a choice about a way of life, that keeps you curious and questioning. Once you start on the path, and uncover and start to know, you can never go back, and un-know. Spiritualty requires deep internal reflection, and confrontation with things you may not want to see, in a process of personal unravelling, growth, and expansion.
Spiritual awakening starts at the point where you wake up and start to get curious and question life. It may evolve from a traumatic experience where you start to question why, or a dissatisfaction with life and the way things are.
We live in a man-made world of separation and individuality, where most people live a life focussed on themselves. Figuring out how to win at the game of life, and master money, relationships, friends, work, business, your mind, physical health and emotions. There’s a lot to juggle.
At some point in your life you may wake up and start to consider what is going on.
It is the small awareness of something bigger and something greater than oneself and the possibility that things could be different to the way they are, that sparks a spiritual journey of awakening, and can be different for everyone.
It can be enough of working in jobs that no longer fulfil you, and wondering what is the point of it all.
It can be the end of a relationship or friendship, and wondering why you keep making the same mistakes.
It can be an awareness of problems in the world that seem to be getting bigger, and wondering why no-one is making a change.
At the core of spirituality is a search for the meaning of life and the point of it all.
A big part of spiritual a spiritual path are spiritual practices. Once you understand there is something bigger than yourself, there arises an internal desire to engage in activities and practices that connect with or help you get a sense of the universal Consciousness, Spirit or Source energy that is bigger than us all.
At the core of spiritual practices, is disconnection from the external world, and more connection, awareness and observation of your internal world, in an attempt to reconnect with your true Self and essence of who you are.
Spiritual practice and spiritual connection requires time and space and a disconnect from the physical reality and busy-ness of the day-to-day. It is difficult to connect to something beyond the immediate self and reality, if you are distracted with noise and people, and deadlines and phones and buzzing and things to do.
Spiritual practice are personal and could include meditation, prayer, writing or journaling, drawing or art, slow body movement such as tai chi, restorative yoga, sitting quietly and still in nature, walking through nature, or just taking some time out to lie in the grass and look at the sky, and wonder about the world.
Spiritual practices could include that state of being in “flow” for a dancer or an artist, or a speaker, or writer, or reader, who gets lost in the moment of what they are doing, and without even thinking about it are driven internally and energetically by something greater then themselves.
Spiritual practices can include stopping and focussing on the wonder of your breath as it moves in and out of your body, and your beating heart that pumps your blood, and your limbs that move, and the unknown force that drives it all. Spirituality can be practiced in awareness and wonder of the natural world and how it and everything we know came to be.
To embark on a spiritual journey is a commitment from which you can never come back.
No one journey is the same, and no one journey is right or wrong, better or worse.
Once you start to question and observe and uncover and know, it is impossible to come back and unknow and live and see and experience life as you did before.
A spiritual path can include points of darkness and hopeless and despair, as the truth and reality of life are revealed. But from the darkness comes the light of hope and joy and understanding and knowing, and seeing the reasons for it all.
At some point in your own spiritual journey, you will hopefully realise that there is actually a point to everything, and both the light and darkness have their place.
Wherever you are, beginning to open your eyes, in the midst of a painful process of awakening, in a space of ease and flow and calm, or even dismissive of the whole spiritual BS thing…wherever you are, it is important to know that each and every one of us, exactly as we are, is an essential part of the meaning and the understanding and the reason for it all.
The choice is yours.
PS… If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear your ideas and comments about spirituality as a concept or practice below.