We talk about spirituality all the time. But we seldom define what we mean by the term. What IS spirituality to you? Why does it matter that we know what it is? And what makes our spirituality healthy?
In this episode of the EvoFaith podcast, we explore what spirituality is, and what we can do to nurture a healthy and authentic spirituality.
IT’S FOR US
What is your picture of God? How does that picture impact your life?
When it comes to spirituality, many of us—especially if we have any history with religion—assume that we need to be spiritual because God commands it.
Let’s stick with this perspective for a moment. Let’s say that God does command us to worship God and to devote our lives to God. Let’s say this was what spirituality was all about. Why would God command us to do this? Is it because God has a fragile ego that needs to be stroked for God to feel okay about God’s Self? Of course not!
If we know anything about God, it’s that God is love. And true lovers always want the best for their beloved. So if God calls us to worship God and be in relationship with God, it’s not for God’s sake, but for ours. God does not need our devotion, but we do need to connect with that which is bigger than ourselves if we are to enjoy a life that is full, authentic, meaningful and connected.
How do you feel about the idea that spirituality is for our sake and not God’s? Feel free to leave a comment about that if you’d like to.
WHAT SPIRITUALITY IS
Now, last week we explored what spirituality is not. That gives us some insight into what healthy spirituality looks like. But we also need to know what spirituality actually is. What are we talking about when we talk about spirituality?
How would you finish this sentence: “Spirituality is…”? I encourage you to take a moment to complete that sentence in as many ways as you can. And when you’ve done that I’d like to share some of my thoughts about what spirituality actually is.
Spirituality is a quest to understand the universe and our place in it
My first thought about spirituality is that is an intentional attempt to engage meaningfully with the big questions of existence: how we came to be, why we exist, what kind of life brings the most fulfilment, meaning, and happiness, and how best we can contribute to making the world a kinder, more just, and more unified place—to mention just a few of those big questions. Spirituality is simply a name for our quest to understand the universe and our place in it.
Spirituality is ‘Waking Up’
Secondly, spirituality is about, to use the title of Sam Harris’s book, Waking Up. It is about being fully present to ourselves, other people, our world, and to life itself. It is about learning to show up fully, authentically, and courageously in our lives and relationships so that we can enjoy the most meaningful and rich life possible. Spirituality is simply a name for our quest to be fully alive—regardless of our circumstances.
Spirituality is connecting with the ‘More’
Finally, while spirituality does not require us to believe in God, it does acknowledge that reality is more than just what we can see, hear, touch, taste and smell. It also reminds us that we are more than simply a slab of meat walking around, eating, sleeping and reproducing. We are more than bodies and brains. And the universe is more than just a collection of objects. There are realities, within us and around us, that enliven us and that have given birth to our consciousness. Spirituality is simply a name for our quest to be connected with that ‘More’ both with us and in our universe.
I’m sure there are many other aspects of spirituality that could be added to this list. What would you want to add? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
You may wonder why it’s important to talk about what spirituality is. Quite simply, we can’t derive all these benefits from spirituality unless we know what we’re actually doing when we engage in our spiritual quests. And when we understand what spirituality is and what it offers us, we can ensure that we don’t waste our time, attention and energy on things that claim to be spiritual but aren’t.
But, as with any skill or ability that we want to learn, we need to practice if we are to grow spirituality and become more consistent in living our best lives. And that’s why we talk about spiritual practices—things we can do to train ourselves to be more awake and to live more intentionally and mindfully.
Again, I don’t have all the answers or any secret formula for spiritual success. But I do have some ideas on how we can develop a spiritual practice that fits us and leads us into the rich and full life we seek. That’s what I’ll be talking about next week, and I look forward to sharing those thoughts with you.
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