What Is Spirituality?

Are We In Danger Of Throwing Out The Baby With The Bathwater?


What Is Spirituality? Are We In Danger Of Throwing Out The Baby With The Bathwater? Photo of people praying on a mountain bathed in sunlight.

Definition Of Spirituality

Historically any response to the question: “What is spirituality?” would have been framed within the religious tradition of the person you were asking.

A contemporary definition of spirituality would be more general and likely to be expressed as an inner sense of connection to something bigger than the individual self. This something bigger may or not be positioned within a faith tradition.

A medieval Christian monk would have answered the “What is spirituality?” question in terms of the presence of God, the Holy Spirit, working inside a person; and a Buddhist monk of the same period would have spoken of Bhavana meaning spiritual cultivation. Modern Christian and Buddhist monks would most likely give the same answers.

Has the modern disconnection between spirituality and culturally grounded faith traditions caused us to "throw the baby out with the bathwater"?

The root meaning of the word spirit is life force, and thus the literal answer to the “What is spirituality?” question is that it is about “matters to do with the spirit”.

In a post religious age where do we find an alternative context and reference points?

The purpose of this article is to set out my response to these questions by outlining two simple models for a practical, neutral approach to understanding spirituality together with links to further articles and resources based on many different aspects of my own direct personal experiences.

Spirituality vs Religion: 11 Differences (With Pros + Cons List).






My Response To: "What Is Spirituality?"

I want to “nail my colours to the mast”  by reaffirming that:

  • The focus of this site is on how to think effectively and, as part of that process, learning how to stop thinking.  
  • The very specific purpose of this site is to show you how to cope in tough times, and to provide you with the tools to do this successfully.
  • This is all about personal development and spiritual growth.
  • It is based on practices, rather than beliefs, that you apply and that will have a profound and positive effect on your life.
  • When I use the word "spiritual" I am not referring to any particular faith tradition nor am I seeking to push or promote any particular belief or faith position.
  • I use the word "spiritual" in a more generic sense to point to the higher or more transcendent dimensions of human experience.

Think of this in terms of higher awareness or higher consciousness.






A Practical Approach To "What Is Spirituality?"

There are 2 key steps in my approach to understanding and working with spirituality:


[1] What Is Spirituality - Developing A Good Working Relationship With Your Mind

A simple and practical model of the mind is to visualise a ship at sea. The ship floats on the surface of the ocean and its purpose is to navigate and transport you from one location to another.

  • Think of the ship as your conscious mind with access to many of the tools at its disposal, for example: reasoning, calculation, speech and memory.
  • The ocean is your subconscious mind, it is deep, dark and mysterious and generates powerful currents which move the ship in the direction of their travel.
  • The sky is your higher consciousness often referred to as your higher self or higher power. The sky contains the clouds, the wind, the weather, the planets, the stars... the universe.
  • Think of your higher self as your conscious mind's portal to the universe – or the dimension of spirituality.

In order for the ship to take you to your destination it needs to work with the currents of the ocean and the wind and weather in the sky.


[2] What Is Spirituality - Understanding Your Selves

This step uses another model that starts from the premise that there is no singular "self" rather, there are multiple selves. Let's look at some of the key ones, and where it all goes horribly wrong:

The ego

Visualise your ego as your operating system and absolutely essential, in the same way "Windows 10" is essential for the successful functioning of your laptop. It mistakenly thinks it controls everything.

But as with "Windows 10", however clever it is, it is just a piece of software. So when you say me, myself or I; as a helpful metaphor, think of “Windows 10" with self awareness!

As we practice mindfulness, we find that in the spaces between our thoughts, we begin to experience that we are far more than this limited and conventional sense of self. We are not “Windows 10”!

The higher self

As we experience this we realise that we have a spiritual or energetic self and also that we have many unconscious aspects or selves that fall outside of the control of "Windows 10".

The unconscious mind

To extend the computer analogy think of our unconscious aspects or selves as the BIOS (the programme embedded on a chip on a computer's motherboard that recognizes and controls various devices that make up the computer).

The whole self

So to pull this together, when we talk of myself or I, what we are really referring to is the totality of all of it - of all of our unconscious aspects or selves, our conscious self (plus all its resources) and our spiritual self or higher self.

Where it all goes horribly wrong

Given that we are fundamentally energetic beings existing in an energetic universe we need to understand, relate to and work with our higher self. It is the portal to, in the conventional sense, everything "out there".

However, ”Windows 10” is not an energetic being but it thinks it is!

Its sphere of operation is defined by our sensory perceptions. For "Windows 10" seeing is believing. Because its role is to control it thinks it does (or should) control everything.

This is, of course, a major delusion.

This is where the whole teaching in mainstream belief systems of "dying to the self" or "dropping the self" comes into play.

This is the point at which we realise that we have only ever been holding an empty bath...







Reflections & Practical Tips & Suggestions

These are links to a series of articles that I started during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown. All are based on my direct personal experiences on the theme of spirituality:

- Understanding "The Energy Of Life"

- Working With "The Energy Of Life"

- Empowering Practices







Related Articles


The Higher Self and Intuition

Your Higher Self - Relax And Trust It

Intuitive Decision Making

Impermanence and This Too Shall Pass

This Too Shall Pass - The Blessing And The Curse Of Impermanence

Definition Of Belief - A Model For Understanding The Structure And Types Of Beliefs

Definition Of Belief


Perception

Seeing Is Believing - Or is It?


Dropping The Ego

Dying To Self


Consciousness

Deus Ex Machina and "The Ghost In The Machine"


Walking The Talk

Compassion Is Selfish And You Need It

Your Ebenezer Stone Of Help

The Loving Father

On Becoming The Ferryman

Things Of The Spirit

Lost For Words

Dance Into The Light

Be The Light







Return from "What Is Spirituality" to: Home Page



English Chinese (Traditional) Russian French German Italian Spanish Vietnamese


LATEST ARTICLES

  1. How To Benefit From the Unseen Margins - 5 Key Tips For Success

    These Unseen Margins Can Have A Very Dramatic Impact On Your Life. To understand how to benefit from the unseen margins we need to start by understanding what they are and where we find them. In this…

    Read More

  2. The Art Of Thinking Clearly - How To Do More Than Just Survive And Reproduce

    3 Key Tips The art of thinking clearly starts with the sobering realisation that our brains are designed to achieve two things: Survival and Reproduction! 98% of our thinking is unconscious, automatic…

    Read More

  3. Algorithms to Live By - 5 Useful Rules Of Thumb

    5 Useful Heuristics From Algorithms To Live By The thesis of the book "Algorithms to Live By" is that algorithms developed for computers can be used by people in everyday life in a wide range of situa…

    Read More

  4. Finding Signal In The Noise - How To Avoid The Noise Bottleneck

    The Art Of Being Wise Is The Art Of Knowing What To Overlook. We are blessed and cursed to live in the digital age. We have access to more information than we can possibly handle yet we struggle to fi…

    Read More

  5. The Checklist Manifesto - Your Personal Safety Net

    A Checklist Is A Safety Net That Encourages Better Results And Prevents Avoidable Mistakes. The volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correc…

    Read More

  6. How Not To Be Stupid - 4 Key Tips

    How To Avoid The 7 Causes Of Everyday Stupidity. We are all capable of everyday stupidity as we undertake routine tasks in our business and working lives and also in our personal lives. This is not ab…

    Read More

  7. Beginners Mind And The Voice Of Experience

    Only The Experts Survived Evolution. "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." These are the famous words of Shunryu Suzuki in "Zen Mind, Beginner's Min…

    Read More

  8. The Art Of Being Alone Is A Skill

    Let's Make Today A Good Day. You may not have chosen the condition of being alone, and it may have been imposed upon you by circumstances beyond your control, but your response to the situation is wit…

    Read More

  9. Intuition & Anxiety - Are There Angels Or Devils Calling Here?

    How To Tell The Difference Between Intuition and Anxiety. How do you know whether the voice of your intuition is real or just the product of your inner anxiety? We all struggle with these inner voices…

    Read More

  10. Like A Prayer - Life Is A Mystery

    It Isn't The Process Of Prayer That’s The Problem, It’s The Way It’s Framed. Regardless of what we feel about Madonna or her song the topic of prayer often arouses strong reactions. Usually, it is som…

    Read More

  11. Fear Of Missing Out - "I'll Have What She's Having!"

    We Follow The Herd - We Mimic Other People's Choices. Fear of missing out - or FOMO as it is popularly referred to - is the feeling that everyone else in your peer group is having much more fun than y…

    Read More

  12. Free - Self Improvement Resources

    Exercising Balance and Discernment. I have just updated these self improvement resources with a number of additional sources of material that are practical and can help you change your life. Check it…

    Read More

  13. Your Higher Self - Your Hardwired Portal To The Universe

    This Is The You That Is Beyond Your Thinking Mind. This is the big you, the transcendent you, the you that is often referred to as your higher consciousness or higher self. This is the you that acts a…

    Read More

  14. The Power Of Gratitude - It's Good For You!

    Gratitude And Attitude Are Not Challenges, They Are Choices. The power of gratitude quite simply is that it is good for you! Many of us were raised by parents who instilled in us the social niceties o…

    Read More

  15. Living With Your Thoughts - 4 Tools To Help You

    Develop A Good Working Relationship With Your Mind. The first step in living with your thoughts is to understand and develop a good working relationship with all areas of your mind. The key to develop…

    Read More

  16. You Are Not Your Thoughts - How To Escape This Ferris Wheel Of Suffering

    The 4 Stages To Dealing With Your Thoughts. You are not your thoughts, at least that's what your rational mind tells you most of the time, but that's definitely not how it feels at 3 am when you have…

    Read More

  17. Finish What You Start - Action Will Destroy Your Procrastination

    4 Key Tips To Help You Finish What You Start. So why do you fail to finish what you start? Or in my case, why do I fail to even get started? There is a wealth of information out there about how to avo…

    Read More

  18. Going The Extra Mile - The Power Of One More

    Life Is Non-Linear, Which Makes The Rewards Of Continued Effort Disproportionately Big. In the pursuit of a long term goal you have to go countless extra miles to set yourself up for a big success. Go…

    Read More

  19. Tao Te Ching - Connecting To Your True Source Of Power.

    How To Be Lived By The Tao. The Tao Te Ching is one of those books that many people read, few understand, and even fewer put into practice. The only way to know the Tao is to experience it, and it is…

    Read More

  20. Dying To Self & Dropping The Ego

    Everything Does Not Revolve Around Me. The two phrases dying to self & dropping the ego are Christian and Buddhist expressions of the same fundamental truth - the need to correct the inbuilt, hardwire…

    Read More

  21. The Confident Mind - 4 Keys To Peak Performance

    Peak Performance Is Meditation In Motion. Peak performance is grounded in the Tao practise of Wu Wei which means "doing with out doing". This is all about how you take action by being so immersed in p…

    Read More

  22. Going With The Flow - The Balance Of Being And Doing

    Steer The Boat Each Day Rather Than Plan Ahead Way Into The Future. Going with the flow is about learning to become comfortable with uncertainty, and learning how to exploit the potential hidden withi…

    Read More

  23. 8 Principles For Success

    A Timeless Foundation On Which To Build Your Success. There are Universal laws and processes that work to support us and guarantee that we achieve all our goals. But first we need to know what they ar…

    Read More

  24. The Loving Father

    A Love That Will Not Let You Go. I had a loving father. I knew that I did, but I never felt it. My father was a good man but very damaged and unable to show his feelings. So I grew up knowing in my he…

    Read More

  25. Your Ebenezer Stone Of Help

    How To Stay Connected To Your True Source Of Power. Approximately 2,500 years ago the Israeli town of Kafr Qasim was close to the site of two battles between the ancient Israelis and their neighbours…

    Read More

  26. The Stockdale Paradox

    How To Deal With The Attrition Factor. The Stockdale Paradox is named after the late James Stockdale, former vice presidential candidate, naval commander and prisoner of war during the American-Vietna…

    Read More

  27. Embrace Your Fear Of Failure And Uncertainty

    We Celebrate Success And Ignore Failure. Numerous studies have been undertaken on successful people to understand what it was that they did to become so successful, how they did it and when they did i…

    Read More

  28. The Wilderness Years - 3 Keys To An Exit

    How You Got Into The Wilderness Matters Less Than The Lessons To Be Learnt There. The wilderness years can be described as any lengthy time, longer than a year, that is spend aimlessly; without an imm…

    Read More

  29. Boredom – Your Greatest Threat to Results

    We Live In A World That Glorifies The Results And Not The Process. We all know what we should be doing, but the trouble with that is that sooner of later we get bored. The enjoyment fades, the excitem…

    Read More

  30. The Luck Factor - 4 Basic Principles

    You Can Master The Art of Creating Your Own Luck By Mastering 4 Key Principles "The Luck Factor" is the title of a book published 20 years ago based on the research of Professor Richard Wiseman who fo…

    Read More



Get new posts by email:









Zen-Tools.Net





Support This Site