Love Trumps all When it Comes to Spirituality

Monk walking toward light

There are many ways to define spirituality.

Have you ever tried to define spirituality?  If you have chances are it got fairly murky fairly quickly.  As we discuss regularly on this blog, spirituality means something different to everyone.  No matter how much we try to quantify, measure, or define spirituality, there will always be a subjective element to it.

Are there any commonalities that everyone’s definition of spirituality share?  Probably not, but that doesn’t have to stop us from constantly striving to find what’s at the root of spirituality.

Mastin Kipp recently had an article published on the Huffington post Spirituality blog that attempted to bring the spirituality’s core into focus.  Kipp agrees that spirituality is almost impossible define, but he has a very simple way of spotting it.  The tell tale sign?  Love.  Kipp argues that doing certain things from religious rituals to yoga won’t necessarily help us achieve a higher purpose or higher self.  Living in an Ashram in India won’t bring you closer to your spiritual side if the essential ingredient is missing.  Kipp implies that many people who are seeking a spiritual life may be looking for the easy route rather than letting their actions bring them closer to a higher level of existence.

Much like buying an expensive juice diet rather than eating healthy and exercising, some people look to achieve spirituality by cross off a series of spiritual checkboxes rather than doing the heavy lifting which will actually bring them what they desire.  Focusing on incorporating love into your daily interactions can help you feel like you are living a more fulfilling life.

Are We Ready to Merge Science and Spirituality?

The dichotomy of science and spirituality is ever present in our daily lives.  From the latest political debates about creationism in the classroom to Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos, the tension is all around us.  NPR’s Marcelo Gleiser wonders, does it have to be that way?

In a recent post, Gleiser argues for bringing science and spirituality together in harmony.  The rigidity of both sides can be detrimental to greater understanding.  The idea that science and spirituality are mutually exclusive not only leads to and unproductive standstill in thought, it also shapes our ideas about the natural world and the universe as a whole.

In his post, Gleiser quotes Lucretius, a Roman poet writing during the time of Julius Caesar.  Many in his time, as in ours, felt that the mysteries of the universe and the sinking feeling that comes with the human realization of the miniscule part we are here to play could only be resolved through faith in the divine.  Lucretius eloquently refutes this idea when he says:

“This dread and darkness of the mind cannot be dispelled by the sunbeams, the shining shafts of the day, but only by an understanding of the outward form and inner workings of nature.”

Essentially what Lucretius is saying is that we cannot rely on divine revelations to understand our world and our place in it.  The only path to understanding and inner peace is by continuing to try and understand who we are using the information available to us.

Gleiser’s thesis is that through an almost religious dedication to gaining scientific knowledge, we can achieve a higher purpose and sense of being.  While that may be true, we can take it a step further.

One of the ironies of the debate between science and spirituality is that both schools are trying to arrive at the same conclusion and are simply coming from opposite directions.  In other words, spirituality accepts some kind of divine and seeks to become closer with it to achieve another level of understanding, while science uses physical evidence to uncover answers to those same mysteries.

In some ways you can think of the mysteries of the universe as a math problem.  Spirituality helps lead us right to the answer while science seeks to show the work.

Riding the Wave of Spirituality: Part I

Surfing Spiritually

Many pro surfers think of surfing as not just a sport but a religion.

When someone is so dedicated to their craft, people often refer to it as their religion.  Similar expressions like “he’s married to his job” or “it’s not a job, it’s a way of life” get thrown the way of the ultra dedicated.  Sometimes these are often meant as jabs at those who truly commit themselves to an art or an area of expertise.  But are they accurate?

Many organized sects have a very strict definition of what constitutes religion, while those who consider themselves spiritual but not religious, leave a little more room for interpretation. In almost all definitions of religion or spirituality, there is a common element of otherworldliness or a connection with something more than physical.  So how can a craft or art be religious or spiritual?

In the same way that those who practice meditation or yoga use the extreme levels of concentration to transcend their physical forms, artists and athletes report being able to do the same if the conditions are right.

A recent article on the Huffington Post Religion Blog discusses one of these crafts specifically: surfing.  Expert surfers are so committed to their sport that they sometimes view it as the only religion they need.  The HuffPost piece quotes multiple pro surfers who find more than just thrills when it comes to hanging ten.  So what is it about surfing in particular that causes enthusiasts to view it as a way of connecting with their spiritual side?

It’s almost become a cliche for professional athletes to thank God after a big win. NFL teams engage in team prayers before big games, and it’s difficult to get through a Super Bowl MVP speech without a point to the sky.  So while religion and sports often cross paths, it’s not as often that you hear professional baseball, football, or basketball players say the sport is their religion. That’s what makes surfing special.

Trying to Pin Down Spirituality

Spirituality Psychic Readings by Ronn

Spirituality can be a tricky term to define.

The term spirituality is extremely vague and can sometimes cause confusion even amongst those that consider themselves to be “spiritual” people.  Some people define spirituality as being religious, while others define it as being in touch with nature.  Some people feel spiritual by being in touch with their own feelings, while still others feel most spiritual when they are engaged in ritual like meditation or hypnotism.  So what is true spirituality?

The answer is that spirituality means something different to everyone and the key is to find the type of spirituality that gives you fulfillment.

Heine de Waal, a contributor for News 24 recently published a blog post that attempts to work out some of the issues surrounding the definition of spirituality.  He uses the Wikipedia definition as a jumping off point: “Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or immaterial reality, an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of their being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.”

The most salient and relevant part of that definition for discovering one’s own spiritual side is the suggestion that we can discover the essence of our own being.  Once we discover that, we are more likely to have a fulfilling and happy life.  While the question of what spirituality is can be difficult to answer, perhaps an even more difficult question is what do we actually do to come closer to discovering the essence of our being?

de Waal posits that no action or ritual will automatically lead to a more spiritual existence.  He suggests that “spiritual” activities like religious worship, meditation, burning incense, or reading tarot can be conduits to spirituality but will not cause an individual to be more spiritual on their own.  These rituals help achieve a higher level spiritual understanding by making us more aware.  More aware of our surroundings, more aware of the living creatures we share the planet with, more aware of our own feelings, and most important more aware of the feelings of others.

By concentrating on those feelings, we can achieve a higher level of consciousness.  de Waal believes that this higher level of awareness leads us to choose our actions from a place of love rather than from a place of fear, and it’s difficult to see how that could be a bad thing.