Are you looking for the exact definition? Can spirituality be defined within the span of a few sentences? Yes…No…, right there, the same goes with me! This is something I feel goes beyond some specific set of definitions. The surprising part is until I sat down to write this piece, I was assuming myself to be a spiritual seeker (of course I still am) and here I am; not even able to define it appropriately.
Can spirituality be defined?
I was a little surprised at myself, reasons obvious, so I decided to Google it. Right, we all do when we look for answers to many of our queries. The answers were good, in fact, great and I could relate to them too. But I was introspecting my inner voice to speak up and put up my experiences with words. To me spirituality is not just a particular set of practices neither performing certain rites and rituals, the latter part can be put under religion.
Spirituality can be defined as a way of our existence or rather the only way of our existence. Ah! Wait, I am not being dogmatic here, I can say that from my personal experiences, the way I take life changed the day, my quest began for something apart from my materialistic aspect. If only we must eat and breed, how better are we from animals! To me, spirituality is reorganizing our biological existence. It echoed with the quote I read somewhere, “We are not human beings with a spiritual existence; we are spiritual beings with a human existence”.
Swami Vivekananda says:
“Here I stand and if I shut my eyes, and try to conceive my existence, “I”, “I”, “I”, what is the idea before me? The idea of a body. Am I, then, nothing but a combination of material substances? The Vedas declare, “No”. I am a spirit living in a body. I am not the body. The body will die, but I shall not die. Here am I in this body; it will fall, but I shall go on living. I had also a past. The soul was not created, for creation means a combination which means a certain future dissolution. If then the soul was created, it must die.”1
Religion and Spirituality:
These two terms are often used interchangeably and we are pretty confused at times too. From my personal little journey, I can be certain that a spiritual seeker need not be necessarily a follower of a certain set of dogmas and beliefs. In fact, spirituality leads to you to a world of eternal freedom.
You can either begin with faith and belief in religion and God, that way it gets easier for you, as you surrender to Him with complete faith and try to experience Him. So this is a faith-based approach, if you have that burning faith, your problems are solved. Sounds little passive, is not it? Probably it does, but it works well.
But there is a little catch to it. Whenever we try to have faith in something that we have not seen or experienced directly, it is subject to be shaken. So be prepared to struggle, introspect, carry on with all the doubts and reach the ultimate truth.
The other way is not to start off with any set of beliefs on God or any such phenomena and explore it all by oneself. That path may lead to frustration, but no matter what, utter frustration and disappointing moments come for free in the spiritual journey and that is a promise. Basically, It can be “God” based approach or a “you” based approach, based on the analytical enquiry. The two paths can be overlapping at times.
Here is an excerpt that will put further light into it, in the words of Swami Vivekananda:
“Religion is the realization of Spirit as Spirit; not Spirit as matter. Religion is a growth. Each one must experience it himself…Each one has a special nature peculiar to himself, which he must follow and through which he will find his way to freedom. Your teacher should be able to tell you what your particular path in nature is and put you in it. He should know by your face where you belong and should be able to indicate it to you. You should never try to follow another’s path, for that is his way, not yours. When that path is found, you have nothing to do but fold your arms, and the tide will carry you to freedom. Therefore when you find it, never swerve from it. Your way is the best for you, but that is no sign that it is the best for others.”2 [pullquote]“The Spiritual path cannot be treaded until it is discovered.” – Dr. P.J. Saher[/pullquote]
To conclude, there is no such specificity with which we can limit spirituality or entitle it to a particular definition. It is as broad as one can think of, something beyond reasoning, logic at times. It is more of an experiential journey. It can be experienced, but not interpreted, I keep it that way.
Let me know in the comments, what are your views on spirituality. How do you define spirituality?
Leave you with a beautiful quote on spirituality by Plotinus,
[bctt tweet=”Spirituality is the flight of the alone to the Alone- Plotinus” username=”debanjalee_sen”]
- The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama, Volume-I, p.29
- The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama, Volume-6, p.114-115