Spirituality as a State of Being

I get the impression that much of the general public does not understand what it means to be spiritual, despite the fact that all things spiritual seem to be in vogue right now. This appears to be the case with a surprising number of people regardless of whether or not they are members of a particular religion.

Those who have drifted away from organized religion often say that they are “spiritual” when asked about their religious affiliation. This is a convenient way to defuse the question and avoid further discussion. However, should they be pressed to explain what they mean, they usually respond with something about being in touch with nature or something similar.

Spirituality does not reside in flowery talk of love, light, or communion with angels and spirit guides. In fact, spirituality is a very serious and deep subject that needs to be understood because it is an integral, critical part of our existence. Not everyone expresses their spirituality and, as a consequence, are unable to live a truly happy and fulfilled life.

I believe that spirituality is a state of being and a way of living. It is an expression of the spirit-self in everyday life. It is the certainty of the presence of our Creator in ourselves and all of creation. It is a recognition of our divine self as a part of our Creator. It is the realization that we are an integral part of God, not a disassociated remnant or emanation from Him. This knowledge brings with it great responsibility.

The fact that we can exist in physical and spirit form at the same time may seem a contradiction. What is not understood by many is that our true existence is one of spirit. The body is like a garment the spirit wears for a short time that will be shed when it is no longer needed. It is a means by which we materialize in the physical world to engage in learning and attend to our life lessons.

But in putting on the garment, many things are hidden from us. We may lose sight of the spirit beneath the clothing. We may lose touch with our divinity hidden behind the shroud of our physicality. Looking in from the outside, we strain to see the bits of light that penetrate the fabric. Oftentimes, all we can see is waves of subdued light and shadows of what is on the other side. Our spirituality lies there beaconing us like a distant memory we struggle to recall.

Spirituality is a state of being, knowing, and living. It is expressed and characterized through our actions, not our words. It is an expansion of consciousness that sees beyond the body and the self. It is an awareness that all things are a part of God and deserving of our love and respect.

If we are an integral part of God, then we have the qualities and potential of God for infinite love. This means we are imbued with the qualities of love and compassion for all living things. These are at the core of our divine nature, and spirituality cannot exist without their expression.

Thus, to understand and express our spirituality, we must find a way to express our divine nature in our everyday lives through our actions and how we live our lives.

A Word About Religion

I have chosen this topic for my first blog because spirituality is, for most people, closely tied with religion. As this entry tries to illustrate, this need not be so. The following is an excerpt from my book (see the Books page in the header above) presented here verbatim.

The Virtues of Quiet Devotion and the Prehistoric Mind

All of the experiences described in this book and more have helped to shape my views of religion. The basic concepts and implications that surround a belief in a creator, God, or some higher being are very simple and inherent in the simple plan outlined in the next chapter.

Man has taken these basic concepts and created dogmatic and rigid religious institutions that do not serve God or man well. While we may call for freedom of religion, we overlook the fact that there is often little freedom allowed within organized religion. Too many people blindly follow the attitudes and edicts of their religion and religious leaders without first applying their God-given reason.

We commonly associate the worship of God with organized religion. However, there are many ways to worship God within a religious dogma, as well as external to organized religion all together. I am in favor of a quiet devotion to God without the limitations and distractions of rituals, and traditions.

I believe that quiet devotion to God can be the deepest, truest, and most profound kind of relationship you can have with Him. I believe this to be so, in part because you are not seeking any sort of recognition from your fellow man. It is a pure and intimate relationship with God, unfettered by appearances and rituals.

There are many out there who share this concept of quiet, unpretentious worship. But their devotion to God is unseen by others except perhaps through their compassionate, gentle, and caring ways. I share what follows with you to illustrate that there are other ways to worship God than through the rituals and traditions of organized religion.

At the same time, many religious teachings have great value by providing a moral code for how we should live our lives. It is the narrow-mindedness and fanaticism of some “religious” people that I find objectionable.

Many of us have been indoctrinated by our religion leading us to believe it is the only (right) way to show devotion to God. There are myriad ways to give homage to God, and not all involve affiliation with a particular religion. It is not for us to say which practice is better than another. A person’s relationship with God is a very personal one, and should not be subject to scrutiny or criticism by others.

At the same time, one should not try to impose their religious beliefs and attitudes on others. To attempt to do so, in effect, is a dismissal of other valid means of worship.

This leads us to the notion (in some, but not all religions or members) that the people of one religion or another are the “chosen people” of God, or that there is only one “right” way to worship God. Stemming from this is the idea that if you do not believe in a particular religion, then you are damned to hell or should be killed. Conversely, there is the attitude that in order to be “saved” you must believe in and practice a particular religion. That’s all nonsense.

The concept of a chosen people has always baffled and annoyed me as it does not stand to reason and it defies logic. God created all people and loves all of His children. Why would He favor one group over another? A mother does not give birth to two children only to love one and despise the other. She gave them life. She loves them both even though they may have different personalities and pursue different paths in life. She tries to guide both and help them find their way, but in the end they will each choose their own path.

Is one way to worship God better than another? In my view, God does not require or expect elaborate rituals or traditions. These are man-made constructs. God only expects acknowledgment of His existence and thanks for the many gifts and blessings He gives to all of us. These are the essence of “worship.” In this minimalist view, nothing more is required.

If you wish to offer morning and evening prayers, go to mass on Sundays, burn incense in front of the Buddha, or pray to the Great Spirit in the Sky, so be it; it does not matter. No one way is better than another, or more pleasing to God’s eye than another. They are all expressions of devotion to God. Where things go wrong is when people try to impose their religious beliefs on others, or judge others in the context of their religious beliefs.

This is not what God wants. Remember religions are man-made rituals, traditions, and belief systems, and like man, they are flawed.

What are the most basic, fundamental aspects of a belief in God and what are their implications? One way to approach this question is to try to imagine you have gone back to prehistoric time before there was any religion. Imagine you have become aware that there must be a creator or something greater than yourself. How does that affect your outlook on life?

Here are some ideas that came into my prehistoric mind.

● Belief in God means that we acknowledge His existence.

● Acknowledging His existence suggests that we should communicate with Him in some way.

● Knowing that He is watching suggests that we should maintain a sense of accountability for our actions and how we treat others.

● All of the inhabitants of the Earth came from Him and are a part of Him. Therefore, we should cherish and respect all life on Earth.

● Awe and wonder about the magnitude and mysteries of the universe give homage to God’s greatness and acknowledges our diminutive existence in the expanse of creation.

As a civilization, we have become perhaps too dogmatic in our view of religion and worship. The ideas above illustrate how simple the conceptual framework surrounding a belief in God can be.

For my own part, I am content to take the prehistoric approach to worship, and quietly express my devotion to Him, giving thanks on a daily basis for the many blessings and gifts He has given to me, both large and small, while marveling at His wonderful creations all around me.