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 another it is burning incense and sitting cross-legged on a pillow. I usually get the jitters from that word. There is something elite about it, something that divides people into spiritual types and non-spiritual ones ...
But it can also mean something that actually connects us together, 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. Because what is meant by the terms 'my', 'reality' and what could that 'relationship' be? I will leave this in the middle for a moment and continue by stating what I don't 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 learned as being 'spiritual', hinder 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) into contact with what really is ... This doesn't need to be a step-by-step process, but something that can occur here and now. Some places, practices and circumstances can help us to (maybe briefly) see through what has been learned. For example, this can be a place where the silence is overwhelming and we also fall silent inside. Beauty can also silence us or the splendor of a clear starry sky or the endlessness of an ocean, but also the intimacy of a little church ...
Carl Sagan says the following about how spirituality can be experienced:
"When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual."
Spirituality, as I understand it, is aimless, unfocused, relaxed, open experiencing. The way a child plays. We know this and long for the innocence that seems lost. It is not, it is simply covered by all the so-called knowledge we have gained over the years. Of course, some knowledge is extremely useful and handy, but what we think we know about who we are, what this life is or could mean, obscures that for which we don't need any words to experience it.
"In the end, spirituality is really about getting sober. Developing the courage to see life as it is, without needing to inflate it with escapist love and light rhetoric nor resorting to a nihilistic resignation by declaring that everything is just illusion and thus meaningless."
Joan Tollifson in a review of a book by Shiv Sengupta
© 2020 Ton Haarmans | Video: Midday Autumn Cloudlapse. By Sam Blight