In myself and others, I notice that there seems to be three “phases” in terms of what people see as “spiritual”.
The conventional view is that we inherent from our culture and/or mainstream traditions. We see spiritual as loving, joyful, radiant, serving others, and so on.
- Widening or Reverse
As we become more sophisticated – in understanding and experiences – we discover that the previous view is incomplete. It may not be inaccurate, but definitely too narrow. So here we explore the spiritual in anything and everything left out from the conventional view. It can be a widening, especially if it comes mainly through experience. Or it can be a reverse exclusion – equally narrow as the conventional view – especially if it comes mainly through abstractions.
After we have explored and familiarized ourselves with both the previous phases, we are ready to find a more natural inclusiveness and fluidity, and also to differentiate in various ways within it. We see that anything is Spirit, yet with some discernment also. We may even end up emphasizing what looks as a more conventional view, although now in a much wider context.
A simple example here is meat. In the beginning, we may see meat eating as not spiritual (not compassionate). Then, we realize that the whole idea was just that, an idea, and eat meat almost as a demonstration of our new insight. And then we may find a new freedom to reduce or eliminate meat consumption again. But now from a more inclusive view (seeing that it makes sense on many different levels, including ecologically), a certain fluidity (not stuck in it), and freedom to do one or the other (not obsessive one way or another).