I’m a novice, a child, a beginner when it comes to spirituality. I was tempted to use this as an excuse as to why this article may be full of mistakes; instead, I’m hoping it will embody the phenomenon of beginner’s luck. This placating appeal at the start of my article leads nicely to my first point of focus, the difficulty comprehending and, something even more perilous, the writing down of one’s personal thoughts regarding spirituality. God forbid I write something which may offend someone with my own developing view on what constitutes spirituality. Attempts at humour aside, my views are just that - developing. As I’m sure they will through my time here on Earth; they’re changing even as I write this article.
Attempting to make sense of this topic has been the life’s work of many incredible people over thousands of years. Each doing their best to explain something which, by its very nature, appears to defy intellectual comprehension. That being said, now it’s my turn to have a shot at it. Wish me luck!
Spirituality seems to vary for everyone, certainly at first, with a lack of clear objective truths causing great disparity between differing beliefs and experiences. It can be confusing and difficult to understand, and can appear to be in direct competition with science. Science is mainly seen as factual and beyond question, an objective truth. Spirituality is, by nature of ‘opposing’ science, seen by many as inherently false. At best, it is impossible to prove (scientifically), and at worst, a fantasy of the deluded or stupid.
I believe a big part of this lies in Spirituality differing to what we are brought up to know; it appears to contradict ScienceTM and seems less defined by laws and structure. As such, many people may have an inherent dislike of it, a fundamental desire to see it as false, and we have to ask why would they want it anyway? At least, in the affluent areas of the Earth, we have our clean water, warm beds, food on demand, next-day delivery of all our material desires… Why would we wish to leave this life of safety and apparent abundance? Spirituality could be seen by many as a scary change to the norm, a break from blissful ignorance, uncomfortable truths demanding a change of lifestyle, mindset, and beliefs.
Spirituality could appear to pose an existential threat. Of course, any whom have delved into spirituality in any meaningful sense, know the threats come from without, not within. It is an inward journey we take; the answers come from inside us, which is a scary and perhaps illogical notion for most. How can the answers be within if we haven’t consumed them from without? Are we born with them? Do we develop them internally? Is it wrong to even think of inside and outside in this regard? I consider myself to be spiritually inclined and even I want to put this down and give my poor head a rest.
Spirituality is Psychology.
Through developing spiritually, we may heal mental issues of all varieties, from childhood trauma to drug addiction. We have seen this through religious practices such as the 12-Step Programme. I personally overcame addiction through fasting, something synonymous with religion and spirituality. Mantras, meditation, yoga, these all encourage the forming of new healthy habits, which in turn may assist in breaking the cycles of old and negative habits. Our very wants and desires change through spiritual development, as our values are reassessed and principles redefined.
Spiritually is Communication.
This can mean communicating with our inner selves, the higher self, or the many egos. Alternatively, it could mean communicating with spirit guides and other beings from different realms. At the very least, it can improve communication between humans, through better knowing one’s desires, controlling one’s emotions, and fostering love and acceptance. Breakdown in communication is so often to blame for many of life’s problems; however, spiritual practices, such as mindfulness and meditation, can assist in preventing these from occurring.
Spirituality is Medicine.
We all know we can make ourselves unwell by thinking it, through psychosomatic illness, yet many will scoff at the thought of willing ourselves better. To develop spiritually is to develop the will, to shed negative thought patterns, to cleanse and awaken the chakras. The symbol of medicine itself appears to signify a connection between spirituality and medicine, with the serpent (kundalini) rising up the staff (spinal column), forming a double helix (DNA).
Spirituality is Freedom.
A spiritually enlightened being cannot be restrained through normal means; their physical body may be incarcerated but this is just one aspect of the being. Likewise, mental incarceration becomes impossible, as they are unaffected by base thoughts and desires, and impervious to external influences. As one develops spiritually, one regains their innate freedom, that which has been slowly eroded since birth. Spirituality, unlike religion, places no restrictions on the way one believes or wishes to live.
Spirituality is Knowledge.
Imagine spending an additional 8 hours of consciousness per day, gaining knowledge whilst others sleep, roaming the astral plane, speaking to various entities, and accessing information through the Akashic records. Much knowledge can be gained through spirituality and not only that of the material world. The answers to life’s great questions can be found here: why are we here? What is our purpose? Perhaps even, what is spirituality?
Spirituality is Power.
Through the developing of the will, inner peace, and unrestricted access to knowledge, one can attain great power. Power can mean many things to different people, whether that is the ability to live freely, live in abundance, or control their surroundings. What one determines as power may change as one’s spirituality develops, as motivations change and base desires are cast aside. It could be argued that spirituality itself is power. The power to awaken and take control of one’s destiny.
Spirituality is Death.
Death is the catalyst for so many areas of spirituality. This could be the death of a loved one instilling some belief in something more, a near-death experience to shed light on the mysterious unknown, or death of the egos transforming one’s entire reality. Death is a motivator, an instigator, it is both a beginning and an end.
Spirituality is Love.
If there’s one thing which becomes ever clearer to me through my personal spiritual development, it’s that love is the key to it all. Whether that be loving oneself, loving another, or loving the world itself. To love the world with all its flaws, to accept it as being exactly as it should be. My understanding of love is evolving as my spirituality develops. Love gives rise to all that which spirituality can offer; if I were to give a single word answer to the question ‘what is spirituality?’ it would be this; though it would be no less enigmatic for the answer.
So, what is Spirituality? One thing at least is abundantly clear - it’s not a simple answer, and whole books have been written on just one of the areas described above. One could say Spirituality is wholeness, oneness. It is everything we can perceive, and all the things we cannot. In essence, it encompasses everything we do and everything we are.
Why does it matter? Depending on your environment, lifestyle, or choice of media consumption, you’ve perhaps noticed a recent shift in society’s attitude toward spirituality. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 1 in 5 people in the UK describe themselves as spiritual. While attendances fall in our churches, meditation centres are thriving. Where being ‘spiritual’ was once the reserve of the hippy movement, it’s now practically in fashion to declare yourself as such.
With our every want and desire on demand, we are perhaps now seeking something else, something more ‘meaningful’. It so often takes reaching the extremes of something to really see the problem, like an addict reaching rock bottom, or a smoker developing cancer; it could be that our rampant materialism has reached its zenith. The high-water mark of consumerism. We are standing at the precipice of change.
With the fourth industrial revolution taking place, transhumanism on the horizon, apparent threats of climate disaster, global pandemics, and nuclear war; the future is a daunting one. It is perhaps due to this, we look behind us for guidance, back at our ancestors, our histories and mythologies, back to our spirituality.
I may not be able to tell you exactly what Spirituality is, but I believe we’re well on our way to finding out what it means to humanity as a whole.