Val is an out-of-the-box writer often questioning the validity of many popular tenets of cultural paradigm..
Spirituality is not adopting more beliefs and assumptions, but uncovering the best in you.
-- Amit Ray
Spirituality -- With or Without a Deity
For longer than I can see it as excusable, spirituality has been synonymous to religiousness. Now, religious folks could be spiritual, but spirituality doesn not have to include a deity. How does it work, you may ask.
Spirituality is really a personal quest to explore one's own higher levels of consciousness, finding a god-like essence in ourselves, basically by getting rid of our lower brain's animalistic selves and its outer expressions.
In traditions of different spiritual schools, notably those of Far East variety, the path of spirituality is characterized by self-discipline, mental and physical, and by a philosophy with its main tenets focusing on love, harmony, and peace.
Also, there is a great emphasis on personal responsibility for one's intimate reality and one's style of interacting with others, suggesting an attitude of acceptance, compassion, tolerance, and support.
If there is a god in that picture, he/she/it serves as an inspiration on that path of striving toward a humanly attainable perfection, or a mini-god status -- not as a judging and punishing entity. In any case, it's not a god to be either feared or appeased.
Nevertheless, spirituality is always about a personal journey of awakening one's consciousness through meditative sinking into one's own depths, while minimizing, or disposing of ego, that animalistic identity with its survivalist priorities. Some additional techniques may be applied, like self-hypnosis and positive affirmations enhanced by elevated emotions -- for reprogramming our "automatic pilot" or our belief system.
Thus, those who strive toward enlightenment keep an image of a god as an awakening voice of their guidance, as if coming from within, not out of prescribed rituals and group activities which may solely serve to put one in that special "mood".
There is no place for "sinfulness", "evil", and alike negativities in true spirituality, since such concepts don't promote, but sabotage spiritual awakening, by keeping alert our vulnerable ego and its self-defeatist obsessing over interests of survival.
All religious wars are about people arguing over who has the biggest invisible friend.
-- Yasser Arafat
History Against Gods
There is nothing inherently spiritual in all of the human race; rather, it's an individually cultivated talent, more like a singing voice. We can either sing or we cannot, while being "musically literate" -- able to read notes -- doesn't really make us "sound" better.
Thus, all those preachers and gurus out there, while being very eloquent about spirituality, may not necessarily be spiritual themselves. It would be quite fair to simplify this distinction by saying that those who "got it" in their nature don't need much but a little push onto their path with few words -- whereas to those who "ain't got it" no words will do.
The mankind's history can easily attest to that. Namely, despite all available inspirational wisdom compiled since those first shamanic teachings about attainable harmony in ourselves and among ourselves -- over ages of philosophy and religion trying to instill some morality and altruism into humans -- we don't have much to show for all that.
Indeed, if in learning a trade we had to re-read one book of instructions so many times without being able to put it to practice -- we would be called "students with special needs".
Ours is a history of a garden variety of animalistic displays of territoriality, greed, and struggle for a status of power and for resources of survival, with shameless and ruthless examples of intimidation, enslaving, and exploiting, not to mention the widespread criminal mentality.
Sometimes I tend to think in terms of what I am calling "universal principle of variety". Nothing in this universe, and especially on our earth, seems to insist on uniformity, starting with some over hundred different chemical elements that compose our material world.
Then, people are merely following that principle, with their mentality, their DNA and fingerprints -- which may explain why we see some folks reaching for a book, and others for a gun, and so many others for nothing.
Spirituality is not ubiquitous, no matter how much we like seeing the whole mankind as one big congregation with merely different religious indoctrinations or spiritual schools.
Thoughts like that must have made me an individualist of my own design long time ago -- especially after multiple running into a wall of some total disinterest in matters of spirituality.
Indeed, to many folks, if not to most of them, it is a pure waste of time to meditate or to cultivate some mental discipline, or anything that might reduce their proverbial "human condition".
On the other side we have a multitude of those who believe that by solely attending their "holy place", following some rituals, and parroting the passes from a holy book, they may call themselves "spiritual".
Indeed, they are not even trying to be better human beings, while they would not miss a single grace said before their dinner -- but then also wouldn't miss a good malicious gossip when they have a chance for one.
Well, like I said -- we either "have it", or we don't, while imitations are easy to spot everywhere.
Food for the ego is poison for the soul.
-- Donna Goddard
A Musical Masterpiece on Out-of-Tune Instrument = Noise
Observing and thinking like this didn't only make me an individualist reluctant to generalize about people, but was also a prelude to my reluctance to pick a holy book to "learn" about things of importance.
Even if I could get over the dubious chances of becoming enlightened by merely reading such a book -- without working on myself -- the simple fact of such books being historically ineffective was quite enough to deter me from them.
A new style of spiritual awakening appeared on the horizon, and it got all my interest and passion. Intuitively, I was from ever of opinion that cultivation of better models of personal functioning, mental and physical, was to be The Answer.
It just couldn't be any other way, because any teaching is entirely sterile without our ability to mentally process it into our inner reality.
I even used to have a name for it back in my teens -- "functionalism", which had as the most important part of spirituality the way I was functioning, not an accumulation of "higher knowledge".
In a simple but elegant metaphor, it's like a fine-tuning of an instrument without which no good musical composition or orchestral arrangement can possibly sound good. In a vision to support that metaphor, I saw an attempt to play Massenet's "Meditation" on drums.
I tried to discover in the rumor of forests and waves, words that other men could not hear, and I pricked up my ears to listen to the revelation of their harmony.
-- Gustave Flaubert
No Prescribed Path to Spirituality
So I was telling myself, spirituality of the past has had its chance over millennia to resolve our ugliest aberrations from our dignified status of homo sapiens -- now it's time to give some other form of spirituality a chance.
And that's exactly the kind I am talking about -- not clinging to obviously unattainable theorisms about a celestial entity and "his" rules, but seeking within ourselves that divine through any modality or technique that appeals to us according to our individual differences.
Sometimes people ask me "how to meditate", and I rush to tell them that they have to search among different modalities for one that will feel the most effective for them. There is no "one-fit-all", as there is no one single prescribed path of spirituality to be followed.
We cannot imitate the path of spiritual teachers like Jesus or Buddha, because they were different personalities. We can, at our best, get inspired by their examples, but we can't put ourselves into their intimate world and feel "at home" there, because we know nothing about the particular dynamism which governed in their mentality.
This is telling us that, unlike religiousness, which pretty much generalizes the "required" rules -- spirituality has no rules at all, as we are unfolding into something the seed of which we have, where our individuality plays a pivotal role.
In other words, spirituality is not a "team work" where a bunch of people meet for some rituals. That's exactly what makes spirituality so promising -- this recognition of personal differences which dictate different approach and pace of advancing.
So that someone may have to straighten up their relationships first, because they can't bring that disharmony into their quest for enlightenment. Others, if not most of them, have to enable their bodies to be "good appliances" capable of carrying the new frequencies coming from the spiritual awakening.
Yet others may have to work on their negativistic attitudes and worldview to prepare the inner environment, or a soil, before they start planting a brand new sets of intents in direction of expanding their consciousness through meditation, self-discipline, self-hypnosis, and/or positive affirmations with elevated emotions.
For only then they can hope to go beyond their everyday self and its habitual processing of the reality.
Stepping into their inner temple, they have to leave outside their "shoes in which ego does its walking".
Well, I hope that these few words have made clear my distinction between religious and non-religious spirituality, giving a new meaning to what it means to be spiritual.
May each person take a peek into their inner world and build from what they may see in there.
The video below tells how we walk alone on our spiritual path
© 2020 Val Karas