What is “spirituality”? Whenever I read about it, I seem none the wiser. It seems to be a catch all phrase for looking at something beautiful, or inhaling mountain air, or being immersed in looking at some butterflies, and thinking, “well, this is nice isn’t it?”
It seems to cover things that you can’t quite put your finger on.
Sometimes, it seems to cover crystals and ineffective but multi-coloured healing.
Sometimes, I hear it used by people in confused trousers who talk of realising that we are all one with the universe, more than some corporeal entity, that our collective unconscious expands across the cosmos, but despite all this, they also seem to be the most self interested people I’ve met, though that was a long time ago in a Cornish town. They talked of the universality of humanity and then, two pints further down the bar, they talked of their hatred of immigrants. Let your soul traverse the Universe, but don’t step over this national boundary.
“Spirituality” is a word that can give the illusion of depth.
In asking for a definition of what this word entails, I have been told many things on Twitter.
I am told that “Bill Hicks was deeply spiritual”.
Does being “deeply spiritual” mean being curious, intrigued, questioning your own existence, your thoughts, the existence of life in the Universe, the nature of time and so on? If so, what is the divide between spiritual and scientific.
Was Charles Darwin’s fascination with the variety of life on earth and his wish to explain it “spiritual” or does that spirituality end when he stopped marveling at a flamboyant bird and started boiling it down to its bones?
Can one human’s act of altruism be defined by another as a sign of spirituality?
I read of people’s “spiritual awakening”. Did I have a spiritual awakening when I started thinking about how all the atoms that currently make up me, have been scattered about making up other things across the universe and will continue to be spread about once I am dead and rotten? I enjoy the idea that this universe has a system that doesn’t appear to be wasteful, does that mean I may accidentally be spiritual?
It can have an arrogance. The declaration of being “a spiritual person” is a way of saying, “I am very deep and thoughtful, I am stage beyond the shallow materialists. When I see a sunset, I do not see it as others do. I see colours unavailable to you and the universe gives me a wink and says, ‘well done for being best’”.
Imagination and curiousity are magnificent attributes. How odd that in myths and religious texts the curious are punished. It doesn’t end up well for Eve or Prometheus. As sins go, looking upwards and asking, “why is the sky blue?” doesn’t seem to be up there with some of the deity sanctioned acts of brutality. This is why, if you really want to be a rebellious sinner, put the drugs and orgies to one side and get a library card. That’s where the real rebel sits, by that table opposite the shelf of large format books. It’s just what the high priests and monarchs were trying to distract you from for centuries.
Being moved by music can be called spiritual, but apparently male alligators are affected by a B flat played on a cello or French horn (note: Elgar may save your life in a swamp), is my hoped for sophistication more Crocodilian than I might hope?
It is hard to define the sensation when we see beauty or delight in company, but I still don’t know what spirituality has to do with it or whether it enlightens in anyway. That’s why I asked the question, so you can answer it for me. I enjoy love, dawns, dusks, concertos, two minute punk thrashes, monochrome films of melancholy, will this spirituality I hear talk of make it all even better?
If spirituality defines something that we find is currently beyond definition, then why bother defining it even as spirituality? It doesn’t seem to help, but maybe that is my own crass problem (even though I don’t find it a problem).
Maybe it doesn’t matter, as long as you asking questions, seeking the nest answers, questioning yourself and the status quo, then you are putting that “most complex thing in the known Universe” that you house in your skull and which houses you, to good use. Just don’t let the bullshit fob you off or confuse soft soaping gurus for enlightenment or the smell of joss sticks for depth.
I will be bringing my mind guru roadshow, well, my show really, to Huddersfield, Salford, Sheffield, Norwich, Nottingham and whole heap more places in the next few months. Details HERE
the Cosmic Genome App is now available for all manner of contraptions and includes lengthy contributions from Chris Hadfield, Alice Roberts, Brian Cox, Helen Czerski and many more HERE