dmattwads

What is spirituality

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At the risk of sounding a bit dense, what exactly is spirituality and what do we consider spiritual or not spiritual and why? 

 

Why is it that places like India and Tibet seem spiritual but some place like medieval Europe don't? Medieval Europe had monks, nuns, monasteries, hermits, and the spiritual dominated the thoughts of the common medieval person probably much more than the common person of today. So why do people not think of this time and place as inherently spiritual.

 

Why do people tend to think of the Himalayas as being so spiritual? 

 

Why is the Zen monastery in the mountains thought of as being more spiritual than the church down the street? 

 

I'm not even saying that I disagree with these common notions, but I am wondering why we think what we think about what is and isn't spiritual.  

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First we need to discern what do people mean by spirit which is different depending on the tradition. 

 

In Daoism, within the tradition I am learning from, spiritual development means to develop the spirit. This refers to the Yuan Shen or the original spirit. Everything you do up to the point of "developing" the spirit - or nourishing it - is essentially "self-development". 

 

So in other words - people have spiritual feelings and have spiritual experiences - but spiritual development means something very specific within the Daoist tradition. 

 

If you're talking about Tibet and the Vajrayana there - then they do not have those words as their tradition is based on the Tibetan language and culture so you are going to have to look at things within the context of the respective tradition if you want to deepen your understanding. If you mean what goes off as spiritual in popular culture and understanding that's a whole other discussion.

 

According to Wikipedia... "Modern usages tend to refer to a subjective experience of a sacred dimension and the "deepest values and meanings by which people live", often in a context separate from organized religious institutions, such as a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm, personal growth, a quest for an ultimate or sacred meaning, religious experience, or an encounter with one's own "inner dimension".

 

Not sure this helps? :lol:

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If we were making a laundry list of reasons the modern west has a less developed culture of spiritual development than it started with, it might include

 

The murder of Hypatia and multiple burnings of libraries at Alexandria,

The persecution of Gnostics as heretics,

The schism between eastern and western churches

 

But this would be far from complete.

 

Of course esoteric spiritual practices and traditions continued in the west,  sometimes in distorted forms, often returning to eastern wells for refreshing.

Edited by Sketch
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1 hour ago, dmattwads said:

At the risk of sounding a bit dense, what exactly is spirituality and what do we consider spiritual or not spiritual and why? 

 

Why is it that places like India and Tibet seem spiritual but some place like medieval Europe don't? Medieval Europe had monks, nuns, monasteries, hermits, and the spiritual dominated the thoughts of the common medieval person probably much more than the common person of today. So why do people not think of this time and place as inherently spiritual.

 

Why do people tend to think of the Himalayas as being so spiritual? 

I suspect it's because we associate the Himalayas with Tibetan Buddhism, a community that defines itself by its spiritual and religious identity. They focus on this spirituality because they are unfamiliar with the more mundane, political, and negative characteristics that can be found in the community. Also because their spokesperson and leader is a very public and vocal voice of compassion and wisdom.

 

1 hour ago, dmattwads said:

 

Why is the Zen monastery in the mountains thought of as being more spiritual than the church down the street? 

Perhaps because we are familiar with the politics and hypocrisy of the church down the street, less so with that of the Zen monastery.

When we learn of pedophilia or other forms of abuse in a monastery, the spiritual mystique tends to dissolve.

 

1 hour ago, dmattwads said:

 

I'm not even saying that I disagree with these common notions, but I am wondering why we think what we think about what is and isn't spiritual.  

 

I define spirituality as the very personal and individual process of looking inward and investigating who and what I am, why I do what I do, and how those choices affect myself and others.

 

 

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2 hours ago, dmattwads said:

At the risk of sounding a bit dense, what exactly is spirituality and what do we consider spiritual or not spiritual and why? 

For me, spirituality starts when we start looking back inward, towards our Self. The natural tendency of the mind is to follow the senses and keep flowing outward. A returning of the senses and the mind back into the 'inner space' and awareness is spirituality to me. Religion and religious trappings, not so much.

2 hours ago, dmattwads said:

 

Why is it that places like India and Tibet seem spiritual but some place like medieval Europe don't? Medieval Europe had monks, nuns, monasteries, hermits, and the spiritual dominated the thoughts of the common medieval person probably much more than the common person of today. So why do people not think of this time and place as inherently spiritual.

Because in places like India and Tibet, at least until the mid-20th century, the way of life was not tarnished by the materialism of the West. Indeed, in the medieval period, Europe had lot more religious people than today. How many of them were spiritual in the way i outlined above is questionable though. If you said that there were more spiritual people in the pre-christian societies (Celts, Druids, etc), I'd be more inclined to agree. 

2 hours ago, dmattwads said:

 

Why do people tend to think of the Himalayas as being so spiritual? 

if you visit the Himalayas you will understand :) 

It is not just the massive size/scale/grandeur of the mountains --- the very space there can put you into deep silence and stillness. But of course there are other such places in other parts of the world -- Machu Pichu, etc etc. 

2 hours ago, dmattwads said:

 

Why is the Zen monastery in the mountains thought of as being more spiritual than the church down the street? 

 

I'm not even saying that I disagree with these common notions, but I am wondering why we think what we think about what is and isn't spiritual.  

A Zen monastery develops a specific vibrational frequency -- its like a tuning fork that draws anyone who steps into one into a deep falling 'inward'. Not saying that churches don't, but likely they don't because there haven't been hundreds of thousands of people over long periods of time that have meditated there. 

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Many of the replies have been very good so far, with many good contrasts.

 

Now I want to switch it up a bit and consider the similarities.

 

1. They all have an "ultimate". Buddhists have Nirvana or Buddha nature, Hindus have Brahma or moksha, Taoists have the Tao and Immortality, Christians, and Muslims have God and heaven. 

 

2. They all methods for obtaining these "ultimates". Meditation, Cultivation, Prayer, ect.

 

3. They all have some concept of merit and demerit.

 

4. They all have evolved beings that can help one along their way, Bodhisattvas, gods, saints, angles.

 

5. They all have pilgrimages and holy sites and relics. 

 

I'm sure the list could go on but considering the common thread that runs through all of them is also interesting.  

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5 hours ago, anshino23 said:

First we need to discern what do people mean by spirit which is different depending on the tradition. 

 

In Daoism, within the tradition I am learning from, spiritual development means to develop the spirit. This refers to the Yuan Shen or the original spirit. Everything you do up to the point of "developing" the spirit - or nourishing it - is essentially "self-development". 

 

This is what spirituality’ means to me, developing the spirit. Some practices seem to develop a Frankenstein spirit, but they’ve developed something and are pleased with having any result whatsoever, while some will develop the spirit according to its authentic blueprint. I always found dreams were a good guide towards authentic development, one good dream can set you on the right path for many years. 
 

5 hours ago, anshino23 said:

 

So in other words - people have spiritual feelings and have spiritual experiences - but spiritual development means something very specific within the Daoist tradition. 

 

If you're talking about Tibet and the Vajrayana there - then they do not have those words as their tradition is based on the Tibetan language and culture so you are going to have to look at things within the context of the respective tradition if you want to deepen your understanding. If you mean what goes off as spiritual in popular culture and understanding that's a whole other discussion.

 

According to Wikipedia... "Modern usages tend to refer to a subjective experience of a sacred dimension and the "deepest values and meanings by which people live", often in a context separate from organized religious institutions, such as a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm, personal growth, a quest for an ultimate or sacred meaning, religious experience, or an encounter with one's own "inner dimension".

 

Not sure this helps? :lol:

 

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It is the spirit of a thing, what moves you, and how.  That is spirituality, and in the West, science has overtaken spirit.  

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Spirituality begins where narcissism leaves off.  It starts with the shocking realization that other people exist.  Our individual lives are exceedingly small against the backdrop of the universe -- wow!  Snuggle up to this impossible smallness until it flips and you´re suddenly big.  Between big and small, self and other, important and so very insignificant, there´s a place that we might call spiritual.  You can find it in Tibet or in the church down the street or in your own heart.  It is pretty much like every other place,

 

or so I think, anyway.

Edited by liminal_luke
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12 hours ago, liminal_luke said:

Spirituality begins where narcissism leaves off.  It starts with the shocking realization that other people exist.  Our individual lives are exceedingly small against the backdrop of the universe -- wow!  Snuggle up to this impossible smallness until it flips and you´re suddenly big.  Between big and small, self and other, important and so very insignificant, there´s a place that we might call spiritual.  You can find it in Tibet or in the church down the street or in your own heart.  It is pretty much like every other place,

 

or so I think, anyway.

Beautifully said

_/\_

I used to use a small phrase in my sig here attributed to Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.

It very much summarizes the spiritual path for me:

“Wisdom is knowing I am nothing,
Love is knowing I am everything,
and between the two my life moves.”

 

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23 hours ago, dmattwads said:

Why is it that places like India and Tibet seem spiritual but some place like medieval Europe don't? Medieval Europe had monks, nuns, monasteries, hermits, and the spiritual dominated the thoughts of the common medieval person probably much more than the common person of today. So why do people not think of this time and place as inherently spiritual.

 

Why do people tend to think of the Himalayas as being so spiritual?  

 

I would say familiarity breeds contempt. In the West, we have romanticized old Tibet. We see it as a peaceful, idyllic place where everyone got along and acted like HHDL, inspired by many "Shangri-La" depictions in the West. This is not the case, as there are many controversies and reports about possible feudalism, torture, assassination, religious persecution, etc. (although some of this is based on Chinese propaganda, as an attempt to justify their own torture, genocide, etc). If you review some oral histories and grounded research you will find great spiritual development along with some dark things.  

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I don't mean to be curt by offering a short answer to what seems like a vast & profound subject. 

Lately it seems that I'm getting to be quite sensitive to having lots to say on things.

The rippling effect continues long after the interactions cease, and this usually drains vital energy. 

 

In brief, I think.... Spirituality is the task one undertakes to resolve dualistic notions & views.

It involves the dropping or letting go of gross & subtle tendencies, as habits, of fixation, opinions, and clinging to positions. 

 

 

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12 minutes ago, C T said:

I don't mean to be curt by offering a short answer to what seems like a vast & profound subject. 

Lately it seems that I'm getting to be quite sensitive to having lots to say on things.

The rippling effect continues long after the interactions cease, and this usually drains vital energy. 

 

In brief, I think.... Spirituality is the task one undertakes to resolve dualistic notions & views.

It involves the dropping or letting go of gross & subtle tendencies, as habits, of fixation, opinions, and clinging to positions. 

 

 

The subject of spirituality may be vast but our posts about it need not be.  I like your brief summation, two sentences that take no more than a few seconds to read but perhaps lifetimes -- in my case, anyway -- to put into practice.  I´ll start by working on not "clinging to positions."  This might take awhile.

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1 hour ago, C T said:

I don't mean to be curt by offering a short answer to what seems like a vast & profound subject. 

Lately it seems that I'm getting to be quite sensitive to having lots to say on things.

The rippling effect continues long after the interactions cease

So much resonance with this.  The rippling is profound and lasting.

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Human demons are also spirits or spiritual so we need to be more specific with such a general term as "spiritual".

 

Is it the conditioned acquired spirit in control of our life or is it the original spirit before birth,  the unnamed that is in control of our life? 

 

Mostly a bit of both because they can not be divided and then combine unless we do the great work. Not many can achieve the great work because manly it contains the word work.

 

Most are more interested in the life that dies. The fake spiritual master leads the show causing chaos and makes life to the point of unbearable and needs many crouches, devices and deceit to move on.

 

The ones that lay it all to rest suddenly have no use for the "spiritual" empty of all meaning it dissolves and the true unborn within us all can finally be at peace. How in the world can we know? it is the unknown, where we came from and return.

 

Or we can just read liminal_luke post and start there. 

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The church I attend is ancient teachings and mystical.

its extreme sacred and holy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by sagebrush
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2 hours ago, C T said:

The rippling effect continues long after the interactions cease, and this usually drains vital energy.

 

Hi CT...

 

2 hours ago, liminal_luke said:

The subject of spirituality may be vast but our posts about it need not be.

 

Hi Jesse...

 

53 minutes ago, silent thunder said:

So much resonance with this.  The rippling is profound and lasting.

 

Hi Creighton...

 

24 minutes ago, Wu Ming Jen said:

The fake spiritual master leads the show causing chaos and makes life to the point of unbearable and needs many crouches, devices and deceit to move on.

 

Hi Ming Jen...

 

4 minutes ago, sagebrush said:

I dont have answers for spirituality. what is

 

Hi sagebrush...

 

 

GOOD RESONANCE

 

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BAD RESONANCE

 

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- Anand

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Limahong said:

 

 

giphy.gif

 

 

BAD RESONANCE

 

a2e830aebc9385d7a7cc644a596da1df632849d2.gif

 

 

- Anand

 

 

 

This is precisely the sort of conditioned dualistic views that ensnares the unawares. 

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well I am going to quickly respond to that-

 

maybe from an understanding of my experiences and patterns over time.

 

however you photo it or swirl it or whatever is happening is subjective.

 

ok

 

wanted or unwanted voluntary or involuntary

 

whatever IS  is at this moment.

 

 

 

what is it now- because it is different.

 

?

 

 

now?

 

 

 

 

 

now?

 

 

 

 

now?

 

 

 

time elapsed over the years????

 

 

 

 

now??

 

 

always changing

 

 

I did some crying is that depicted in the photos?

 

 

what about how my heart beats

 

or  my bathroom movements?

 

 

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1 hour ago, sagebrush said:

thank you dwai

 

 

 

 

 

Sincere Prayers are very powerful.

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'Spiritual' is the relation of self to not-self. 'Spirituality' is the awareness of or pursuit of the/your Spiritual.

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20 hours ago, C T said:

 

This is precisely the sort of conditioned dualistic views that ensnares the unawares. 

 

 

The above words can help join the dots...

 

6007791dca5dbd85392a382d233b8506.gif

 

 

 

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On 1/29/2021 at 9:12 AM, dmattwads said:

 

Why is it that places like India and Tibet seem spiritual but some place like medieval Europe don't?

This is an effect of how these things are presented to us in our culture - your use of the word "seem" is telling.  There were spiritual things happening in Medieval Europe and unspiritual things happening in Tibet.

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