My Definition Of Spirituality
Spirituality and being religious are descriptions often considered to be interchangeable. While many religions consider spirituality to be an integral part of their doctrines and practices, there are overlaps between the two. There are also distinct differences between them as well.
They both involve the search for connection with the Source of everything, be it God, Christ, Buddha, Yahweh, Elohim or Krishna to name but a few. They both strive for a communion or reconnection with the Divine.
Spirituality is experienced as one embarks on his own unique inner path in search of deeper understanding of the truths life has to offer. The path becomes a conduit for inspiration and insight, which leads to an understanding of our experiences while temporarily incarnated in the material plane. The spiritual path leads one to the discovery of his or her unique essence and purpose as it becomes distilled to its most elemental form. Spirituality is the corridor toward the place of higher consciousness, a passageway toward the perfection that is within each of us. It involves meditation, introspection and prayer.
Being religious involves these as well. While religions tend to espouse the acceptance of a metaphysical existence based on a supernatural deity(s), spirituality on the other hand is not attached to any specific religious tradition. As William I. Thompson stated it: “Religion is the form spirituality takes in a civilization.”
Because of the exclusivity of some religious teachings, religion tends to separate us from one another, whereas spirituality tends to bring us closer together. It is important that we realize the potential of learning from everyone despite how different our backgrounds may appear. It doesn’t matter what religion or denomination others have come from nor what belief system they have been taught. It is not the tradition or laws that are meaningful, it is the spiritual essence of their beliefs that is of utmost importance. Our focus must be not on our differences but on what we share in common.
“How is it they live for eons in such harmony—the billions of stars—when most men can barely go a minute without declaring war in their mind against someone they know?
There are wars where no one marches with a flag, though that does not keep casualties from mounting.
Our hearts irrigate this earth. We are fields before each other.
How can we live in harmony? First we need to know we are all madly in love with the same God.”
~St. Thomas Aquinas
While attending a conference of theologians, Thich Nhat Hanh shared his thjouights to words spoken to the assembly by a Christian friend who said: “We are going to hear about the beauties of several traditions, but that does not mean that we are going to make a fruit salad.”
Thich Nhat Hanh’s responded by saying: “Fruit salad can be delicious! I have shared the Eucharist with Father Daniel Berrigan and our worship became possible because of the sufferings we Vietnamese and Americans shared over many years.” He went on to describe the shock experienced by some of the Buddhists in attendance in learning that he had participated in the Eucharist; many of the Christian participants seemed horrified as well. “To me, religious life is…life. I do not see any reason to spend one’s whole life tasting just one kind of fruit. We human beings can be nourished by the best values of many traditions.”
Spiritual truth is what belongs to us all irrespective of our past teachings. It comes to light when and wherever we find ourselves struggling with the profound questions of how we fit into the overall scheme of things and what our purpose is for being here.
In order to reach the core of one’s spiritual self, diversion from the superficial current of the material plane must be achieved by rising above everyday life. It is from that transcendent perch, spiritual awakening will occur. It is analogous to the majestic eagle that soars high above everything, viewing with bird’s-eye clarity the complete understanding of life in its entirety. On occasion the eagle must swoop down rejoining the physical world if only for a short time after which it will soar once again into the heavens of spirituality.