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About spirituality

Like 'love', 'consciousness' and so many other concepts, 'spirituality' is a concept that has a different meaning for everyone. For some it is synonymous with 'religion', for others it is burning incense and sitting cross-legged on a pillow. The word usually gives me the creeps. It makes me think of new age bliss ninnies with 'healing crystals'. It also has something elitist about it, something that divides people into spiritual and non-spiritual persons ...

But it can also mean something that actually connects us, because it is fundamental to all sentient beings.

As far as I am concerned, 'spirituality' is nothing more or less than my relationship with reality and everything that clarifies or strengthens this relationship. Of course, this definition raises questions. For what is meant by the terms 'my', 'reality' and what could this 'relationship' be? I will leave this in the middle and go on to indicate what I do not mean by it: everything we have learned and believe or think we know about what is real and true. Because everything that has been learned, all those words and concepts, especially the things we have been taught as being 'spiritual', obstruct the view of this and therefore do not fall under the definition.

As I see it, spirituality consists of unlearning or seeing through everything we think we know. And this brings us (more and more) in contact with what really is ... This does not have to be a step-by-step process, but something that can happen here and now. Certain places, practices and circumstances can help us to see through what we have learned (perhaps briefly). For example, a place where the silence is overwhelming and we also become silent inside. Beauty can also bring us to silence, or the splendour of a clear starry sky, or the endlessness of an ocean, or the intimacy of a small church ...

Carl Sagan says the following about how spirituality can be experienced:

"When we acknowledge our place in an immensity of light years and in the passage of centuries, when we understand the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that lofty feeling, that sense of elation and humility together, is surely spiritual."

Spirituality, as I understand it, is aimless, unfocused, relaxed, an open experience. The way a child plays. We know this and long for the innocence that seems to be lost. It is not, it is just covered up by all the so-called knowledge we have acquired over the years. Of course, some knowledge is extremely useful and convenient, but what we think we know about who we are, what this life is or could mean, obscures what we don't need words for to experience.

"In the end, spirituality is really about getting sober. Developing the courage to see life for what it is, without blowing it up with escapist love and airy fairy rhetoric, nor resorting to a nihilistic resignation by declaring that everything is just illusion and therefore meaningless." (Shiv Sengupta)