Sunday, March 1, 2009

What is spirituality?

The answer to the question “What is spirituality?” is often different. For some, it is associated with religion. And for some it is associated with the supernatural. And then there are others who believe that being spiritual means attaining enlightenment. It definitely does mean different things to different people.

Since it is a concept which cannot really be defined using words which are acceptable to the whole world, I will be just focusing on what spirituality means to me. Here are certain things which I think are associated with spirituality:

Spirituality means oneness of the body, mind, and spirit

Body, mind, and spirit are part of an individual’s being. All these three things together make an individual. When these different parts of an individual are not connected to each other or are in some kind of disharmony, one can expect the individual to suffer physically, mentally, or emotionally. A spiritual person, on the other hand, is above all this suffering. Why?

This is because a spiritual individual allows the spirit to guide his/her mind and the body to follow the instructions of the mind. This is what the purpose of spirituality is.

Spirituality means surrendering to a Higher Power

All our lives we struggle to control our personalities, our relationships, our careers, and others. But spirituality requires us to let go of this behavior. A spiritual person does not attempt to control each and every thing in his/her outside world. Rather a spiritual person surrenders himself/herself to a Higher Power. You may call it a Higher Power. You may refer to it as God. Or you may choose to surrender to the Universe.

We name it because it makes things easier and clearer for us. But the key factor in being spiritual is actually surrendering. This is the purpose of spirituality. Letting yourself be guided rather than trying to control everything. This is because control is the cause of suffering. Surrendering is the key to peace.

Spirituality means understanding your inner self

We as human beings focus too much on the outside. There is too much focus on the material possessions. How we look. How we dress. How big is our house. Agreed, all these things are necessary to survive in this world. But the problem arises when we want to too much of this material world. We are always focused on getting something bigger than what we presently have. There is nothing wrong with that too.

But somewhere in this process we lose touch with our inner self. Our inner self gets neglected, suppressed, and ultimately forgotten. But our inner self is the one that holds the key to our happiness and satisfaction. A spiritual person is more focused on the satisfaction of his/her inner self and less focused on the satisfaction from the outside world. Spirituality is about working on the satisfaction of the inner self. This is because the outside world can never give us lasting satisfaction and happiness.

Spirituality means being grateful

We often even forget to say thank you. Forget about feeling thankful. Whereas saying “thank you” and “please” and “sorry” are words which are meant to make us more human and more spiritual, its not so in today’s world. It’s become more of a mechanical thing than an emotional thing. We say it because we are supposed to. But how often do we actually mean it or feel it?

For a spiritual person, these are not mere words. A spiritual person means it and feels it. And that’s not all. Being grateful does not only mean being thankful to others. It means being grateful for what we have and what we will be blessed with in the future. The fact that we are alive is enough to be grateful for. Spirituality is intended to help us be more grateful.

Spirituality means being honest

Often we find that we are dishonest to others. We are dishonest to our own self. We are even dishonest to God. Spirituality and dishonesty cannot go hand in hand. A spiritual person is honest to himself/herself, to God, and to others. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “honesty is the refusal to lie, steal, or deceive in anyway”. I think the key word here is “deceive”.

When our intention is to deceive someone, we are intentionally or unintentionally hurting them. When we are deceiving our own self or God, we are allowing our own self to get stuck in a vicious cycle of dishonesty, deception, guilt, and more dishonesty. The only way to get out of this cycle is to be honest. This is where spirituality takes us. It takes us towards honesty and thus towards inner peace and harmony.

Spirituality means being unselfish

It is often said that human beings are by nature selfish. But this is because individuals are so detached from their spirit. An individual’s spirit is never selfish. If we are more in tune with our spirit and allow it to guide our mind and body, we will find that there is no fear and we will get involved in more unselfish acts for the betterment of humankind in general.

Yes, unselfishness is the key to the survival of this world. Selfishness is what will ultimately lead to the destruction of this earth. A spiritual person is unselfish, always willing to work for others, and is not afraid of anything. This is where spirituality leads us. To a place where there is no fear, no selfishness, but only harmony and peace.

Spirituality means finding our own purpose

A spiritual person considers himself/herself to be one with the universe and to be a small part of the whole. When we think and feel that we our part of this whole universe, it helps us realize that each individual is an equal and important part.

The universe will not be complete if any one of us was missing. We all have a purpose and we are all part of it. This is what spirituality helps us in doing. It helps us realize that we are all equal and it helps us realize that we all have a purpose to fulfill. Spirituality helps us find that purpose.

As I am writing this, there are so many other things that I feel that spirituality is about. But at the same time, I also feel that at this point in time, I have covered most of the important aspects of what I think spirituality is. And I know that being spiritual is what leads to peace, harmony, happiness, satisfaction, and the feeling that we are living our life to the fullest.

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