The word “spirituality” (and why spirituality is not really about spirituality)

To continue on the previous post:

There are many commonly used words in spirituality I prefer not to use, for a few different reasons.

One of these is the word spirituality itself.

The upside of using this word is that most people have a rough idea of what it refers to. It’s a convenient shorthand, and I sometimes use it for that reason.

If the upside is that it gives people a general idea of what it’s about, that’s also it’s downside. It’s imprecise and sometimes misleading.

It’s a word with many different definitions, and there are probably as many understandings of what it refers to as there are people. I may use the word and mean one thing, and you understand it differently and possibly very differently.

It comes with a lot of baggage, and people associate a lot of different things with it. In our contemporary western culture, they may take it to mean something fluffy without substance, divorced from reality, irrelevant for our daily life, without practical use, or for especially interested people.

The way I see spirituality is very different. For me, spirituality is not really about spirituality. It’s about exploring what I am in my own first-person experience. It’s about living from that noticing. It’s about befriending my experiences. Finding healing for my human self. Live a life with life at the center.

This type of spirituality is not really spirituality, and it’s not dependent on any spiritual or religious traditions. (Although we can find many valuable pointers there.)

So I sometimes use the word spirituality as a shorthand. And I prefer not to use it very much since people may understand it very differently from how I intend it, and what spirituality is about for me is not really about spirituality. It’s about life.

I touched on this in the previous post:

Many of the words commonly used in spirituality seem too much, and so also the word spirituality itself.

For some, spirituality sounds like something mystical or weird, divorced from life, and for especially interested people.

If we see it more favorably, we may take it as a label we can use to adorn ourselves and create an identity for ourselves that sets us apart from those unspiritual people.

Of course, there are many definitions of spirituality, and some of those definitions fit the assumptions people may have about it.

For me, the essence of spirituality is to notice what we are, and that’s not reliant on any spirituality or religion, and it’s hugely practical.

The essence of spirituality is pragmatic and independent of any ideologies or traditions. It’s not really about spirituality at all. It’s about life, what we are in our own first-person experience, and how we live from noticing what we are.

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