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


Waking Up

How To Wake Up - 4 Simple Practices To Help You Wake Up Now

Finite And Infinite Games - Dazed, Confused & Ultimately Transcendent

Everything Is Connected And Why You Don't Feel It


The Higher Self and Intuition

Your Higher Self - Relax And Trust It

Intuitive Decision Making

The Greatest Love - The Most Important Relationship You Will Ever Have


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

Are You Aligned With Reality? Or Do You See What You Believe?

Deus Ex Machina and "The Ghost In The Machine"


Walking The Talk

Shantideva - The Way Of The Bodhisattva, Walking The Path Of Compassion

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







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