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What Is Spirituality?


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I've been wondering about this.  What is spirituality?

 

From my vague understanding, it does not require a belief in any deity (though, I guess, it may).  Does it necessarily mean that the spiritual person believes they have some form of eternal consciousness?  Is it an appreciation for that which is not material?  Is it a vague "feeling" that there is more to this life than we know?

 

I'd truly be interested in any and all comments on this.

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I guess the answer will be different for different people. I no longer believe in anything outside of the natural order. But for me "spirituality" is a sense of wonder I may have or a feeling of peace that may wash over me.

 

My greatest source of "spirituality" these days are the feeling of peace I get while longboarding. I am just amazed by it. No matter how stressed my day is or how many things are on my mind I find a way to forget it all while I am skating.

 

 

I also get a sense of wonder when I learn or spend time contemplating things about science and nature.

 

Hope this makes sense.

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I guess the answer will be different for different people. I no longer believe in anything outside of the natural order. But for me "spirituality" is a sense of wonder I may have or a feeling of peace that may wash over me.

 

My greatest source of "spirituality" these days are the feeling of peace I get while longboarding. I am just amazed by it. No matter how stressed my day is or how many things are on my mind I find a way to forget it all while I am skating.

 

 

I also get a sense of wonder when I learn or spend time contemplating things about science and nature.

 

Hope this makes sense.

 

That makes good sense.  Thanks for the input.

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Guest r3alchild

I think its time I changed my interests, since I fucking hate religion and spirituality. (remember I only speak for myself) In my opinion its just all subjective bullshit that is factless and baseless.

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  • Super Moderator

Spirituality seems to be a term people can apply to anything from just feeling good to having a secret understanding of the universe. Christians consider themselves to spiritual, witches do the same, and guys who just really feel happy looking at a sunset may say it's a spiritual experience. When a person states that he's spiritual, you have no idea what that means unless he explains it a little better. Frequently these days it means someone has kept the baby of spirit and thrown out the bathwater of Christianity.

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It appears to be an elusive animal that is more important to some than it is to others for whatever reason.  The fact it can't be quantified leaves it open for abuse by many. 

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I don't have a good description for it either. I am a materialist but like a lot of things that fall under the category of "spirituality". The things I'm attracted to seem to be a combination of celebrating subjective human experiences, personal development, and ethics. I like the Buddhist attitude of being aware of the present moment, of paying attention to your life, and developing a high enough level of personal awareness to discover and break bad habits that make you unhappy. I would also feel comfortable calling some of my intense moments of appreciation of nature "spritual". I would differentiate my spirituality from my atheism/materialism by saying that spirituality isn't about determining truth about the external world, but rather experiencing and manipulating my personal subjective impressions.

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I don't have a good description for it either. I am a materialist but like a lot of things that fall under the category of "spirituality". The things I'm attracted to seem to be a combination of celebrating subjective human experiences, personal development, and ethics. I like the Buddhist attitude of being aware of the present moment, of paying attention to your life, and developing a high enough level of personal awareness to discover and break bad habits that make you unhappy. I would also feel comfortable calling some of my intense moments of appreciation of nature "spritual". I would differentiate my spirituality from my atheism/materialism by saying that spirituality isn't about determining truth about the external world, but rather experiencing and manipulating my personal subjective impressions.

I don’t mean to get off topic but can you help me understand the difference between naturalism and materialism. As I understand it naturalism is a philosophy that asserts there is nothing that exists outside of natural laws. Materialism asserts that all things including consciousness are all made up of physical matter. (Am I right in my understanding?) Is materialism an extension of naturalism?

 

 

I’m sorry for the question this is all new for me.

 

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I don't have a good description for it either. I am a materialist but like a lot of things that fall under the category of "spirituality". The things I'm attracted to seem to be a combination of celebrating subjective human experiences, personal development, and ethics. I like the Buddhist attitude of being aware of the present moment, of paying attention to your life, and developing a high enough level of personal awareness to discover and break bad habits that make you unhappy. I would also feel comfortable calling some of my intense moments of appreciation of nature "spritual". I would differentiate my spirituality from my atheism/materialism by saying that spirituality isn't about determining truth about the external world, but rather experiencing and manipulating my personal subjective impressions.

I don’t mean to get off topic but can you help me understand the difference between naturalism and materialism. As I understand it naturalism is a philosophy that asserts there is nothing that exists outside of natural laws. Materialism asserts that all things including consciousness are all made up of physical matter. (Am I right in my understanding?) Is materialism an extension of naturalism?

 

 

I’m sorry for the question this is all new for me.

 

Not sure on the difference, and a quick google search isn't telling me anything obvious. But what I mean by materialsm is that I am not a dualist nor an idealist. An idealist would state that the fundamental "stuff" of reality is mind/consciousness and that the material world is generated by consciousness. A materialis says that the fundametal stuff is all physical and that consciousness is generated by the physical world. A dualist would say that mind and matter are both fundamental, and fundamentally different, and that humans are a combination of them. The Christianity I was raised with was dualist; some of the gnostics may have been idealists. Some Eastern philosophy tends towards idealist.

 

The internet says that naturalism merely means that you don't believe in the supernatural, that everything will eventually be explainable in a single, coherent system. Materialism is a naturalistic philosophy, but the internet says that idealism can also be naturalistic. Mostly naturalism seems to mean that everything that exists has to play by the same set of rules.

 

Side topic: This has been more thoroughly discussed in other threads, but there are some ideas that are often associated with materialsm that I do not hold (other materialists may, though, so I'm not saying that this is part of the definition of materialism). I don't believe that physical, solid objects are the fundamental unit of realty; quantum mechanics has disproved that. It's all wave packets, to the best of our current understanding. Nor am I a determinist; the physical world is too messy, and the quantum world too non-deterministic, for us to ever treat reality as an absolutely known quantity. Now, a lot of things are highly predictable, particularly in the short term on the macroscopic scale, but the fact that the universe follows some absolute rules does not mean we will ever have absolute control over it, nor can we treat our physically-derived minds as robots. I am sure that there are similar common misconceptions about what idealists believe, but I am not familiar enough with that viewpoint to have anything useful to say.

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I guess I already had too much weekend vodka, but anyway... hope I make sense...

 

...I guess to me spirituality means seriously considering that there might be more to the universe than we can conceive or measure with all our cool scientific toys. Is it possible that there is More™? For sure.

 

Is there a reason for assuming its existence if you stay close to scientific principles? As far as I can tell, no.

 

For the time being (until, some day, the question can possibly be settled once and for all) I'll just say that I have some "spiritual" views but don't claim that they must be true ;)

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That last post by Thurisaz bumped up a thought in my head.

 

Materialists acknowledge that anything is technically possible. Those of a spiritual bent move the technically possible into the area of probable. Some go so far as to claim certainty, though evidence still isn't forthcoming even at that stage of belief.

 

It is possible that gods, souls, leprechauns and unicorns actually exist, and you can't prove that they don't. Considering all the evidence not gathered throughout human history, however, the probability is still nil.

 

Still, I am quite spiritual myself, by my definition, of course.

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Very thoughtful responses from everyone.  I appreciate it.

 

I don't really have a definition and it sounds like the definition depends on the person defining it.

 

Do any of our ExC friends associate spirituality with the existence of spirits of some sort?  I suppose what I mean by spirits are living beings who do not possess a material body.

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For me it is closely related to aesthetics and art. It is the transcendent -- whatever gets me out of my small "self" and limited view.  I don't think I can nail it down, and to try to give an exact definition would be like pinning a butterfly to a board.  It transcends all limits, I suppose is how I would put it.  Its visionary and transcendent. Ritual seems to be necessary for me, although it must be something meaningful, or have a meaning, and  at the same time beyond the meaning. Mystery is also a word I would use in connection with this.

 

I know this is poor- how many times can I use the word "transcendent?"

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I find this website from The Ohio State University, Student Wellness Center, to have an interesting take on spirituality.  Here is a snipet, but there is much more on the page which I will also link to:

 

 

What is spirituality?

Spirituality is not religion and is not even necessarily affiliated with religion. While the definition of spirituality is different for everyone, here are some common themes associated with spirituality:

  • The idea of a process or journey of self-discovery and of learning not only who you are, but who you want to be.
  • The challenge of reaching beyond your current limits. This can include keeping an open mind, questioning current beliefs, or trying to better understand others' beliefs.
  • A connectedness to yourself and to others. Spirituality is personal, but it is also rooted in being connected with others and with the world around you. This connection can facilitate you finding "your place in the world."
  • Meaning, purpose, and direction. Spirituality, while it doesn't necessarily solve or reach conclusions, often embraces the concept of searching and moving forward in the direction of meaning, purpose, and direction for your life.
  • A higher power, whether rooted in a religion, nature, or some kind of unknown essence.

 

http://swc.osu.edu/about-us/spirituality/

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Guest r3alchild

When ever something tremendously bad happens in my life I keep hearing this pete murray song.

In the song he sings soon you will see, I started believing that those words were a message to me from some spiritual source. But ask yourself this, if there really is some spiritual world out there, is it not as elusive an evasive as christianity was. Are immense feelings of awe and deep feelings of love better left to the natural science of biology to explain rather than some vague idea of sprituality.

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Are immense feelings of awe and deep feelings of love better left to the natural science of biology to explain rather than some vague idea of sprituality.

Such a world bereft of any philosophical or even poetic understanding of our lives it would be if we did.

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Guest r3alchild

 

Are immense feelings of awe and deep feelings of love better left to the natural science of biology to explain rather than some vague idea of sprituality.

Such a world bereft of any philosophical or even poetic understanding of our lives it would be if we did.
Can you re explain that, I don't understand what your trying to say.
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Guest Pixie

This is a really good topic Overcame Faith because I am just now opening up to the idea of  accepting a different type of spirituality. The problem I have is that I have been told all my life that anything outside of Christianity is a lie and of Satan. I wouldn't even know where to begin with 'New Age' spirituallity. There is an empty hole in my heart right now. I am still in the questioning stage of deconverting, so I am slightly afraid to dabble into anything else. Did others go through this while deconverting?

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Guest Babylonian Dream

For me it is closely related to aesthetics and art.

This is true for me as well.

 

 

I find this website from The Ohio State University, Student Wellness Center, to have an interesting take on spirituality.  Here is a snipet, but there is much more on the page which I will also link to:

 

 

What is spirituality?

Spirituality is not religion and is not even necessarily affiliated with religion. While the definition of spirituality is different for everyone, here are some common themes associated with spirituality:

  • The idea of a process or journey of self-discovery and of learning not only who you are, but who you want to be.
  • The challenge of reaching beyond your current limits. This can include keeping an open mind, questioning current beliefs, or trying to better understand others' beliefs.
  • A connectedness to yourself and to others. Spirituality is personal, but it is also rooted in being connected with others and with the world around you. This connection can facilitate you finding "your place in the world."
  • Meaning, purpose, and direction. Spirituality, while it doesn't necessarily solve or reach conclusions, often embraces the concept of searching and moving forward in the direction of meaning, purpose, and direction for your life.
  • A higher power, whether rooted in a religion, nature, or some kind of unknown essence.

 

http://swc.osu.edu/about-us/spirituality/

 

Selfdiscovery and the feelings of being interconnected to the world and universe around you is it for me. It's something that encompasses my mind, emotions, and perceptions. Ultimately, I don't see it as being supernatural as I lack a belief in the supernatural.

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There is much that we simply don’t know. When the world of theoretical physics is explored virtually anything is theoretically possible. If the theory of multiple universes and dimensions is true that would potentially be a game changer. I believe science has already proven that the laws of science and physics are not applicable in the sub micro realm. If the supernatural is defined as a place when the known laws of science and physics are not applicable then scientists have already determined such realms exist.

 

If, as some scientist believe, the universe is a living organism that continues to create and evolve and it is but one of an infinite number of such universes it would also be a virtual mathematical certainty that we are not alone. I feel comfortable with the concept, or theory, of Panendeism as my chosen form of spirituality. That theory would make the universe and God as being one and the same thing. I don’t envision God as being separate from creation/the universe. I envision God/Creation/Universe as all being the same thing.

 

If there is any possibility of any of that being true then what we call God is a creative energy force, maybe an energy force that possesses intelligence that continues to create and evolve. I hope if such a force exist that it acts or interacts influentially within creation. I think there is more to our reality than we have thus far identified and I believe there is an abundance of circumstantial/theoretical scientific evidence that suggests there is. What that ultimately means is yet to be determined.

 

I no longer equate God and religion as being the same thing. Religion is clearly a man made concept. The concept of God, at least for me, is simply the more, the other, the yet to be discovered forces that create an environement that allows life to exists and evolve in whatever form that life may take.

 

The word God has been so distorted and polluted that it conjures up all sorts of negative and bizarre images, but for me the word God simply refers to the unknown and the possibility of the more and the other.  As I’ve already noted the concept of Panendeism appeals to me and the definition of Panendeism is open to a wide range of interpretations.

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Spirituality is simply the experience of ones own being. How much one pursues knowing that in themselves, is a spiritual practice of whatever works for you, or not if it doesn't compel you that much. All the rest is simply ways to talk about what that is in you, to try to find a hook to relate it to yourself and your own pursuit of that. Those ways to talk about it do not define what spirituality is. That's why religion and spirituality may be related (or not), but they are not the same thing. Religions at best are a tool to help realize the depths of that being in ourselves, at worst they snuff the life out of it and leave us cynics towards anything remotely related to opening the door to the inner self.

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Are immense feelings of awe and deep feelings of love better left to the natural science of biology to explain rather than some vague idea of sprituality.

Such a world bereft of any philosophical or even poetic understanding of our lives it would be if we did.
Can you re explain that, I don't understand what your trying to say.

 

 

What I was getting at is that I wholeheartedly support and encourage science in all areas of life.  However, science can only go so far with helping us understanding how things relate to us as individuals.  Take feelings of love.  I know there are hormones, chemicals, etc. which can be measured when one has a euphoric feeling of love for another person.  That's good and proper to understand and study.  But what that does not do is to explain what it means to the individual who is experiencing it.  I think for a person to try to understand what love means to them on a personal level is at least part of what spirituality is.  So, science falls short in that respect.

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This is a really good topic Overcame Faith because I am just now opening up to the idea of  accepting a different type of spirituality. The problem I have is that I have been told all my life that anything outside of Christianity is a lie and of Satan. I wouldn't even know where to begin with 'New Age' spirituallity. There is an empty hole in my heart right now. I am still in the questioning stage of deconverting, so I am slightly afraid to dabble into anything else. Did others go through this while deconverting?

 

I know exactly what you mean about the forbidden spiritual experience imposed on us by Christianity.  I, too, was told that anything other than how the Christian "spiritual" experience was interpreted was of the devil.  That is part of the brainwashing and just one of many areas that we have to free ourselves from to be open to whatever spirituality means.

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Selfdiscovery and the feelings of being interconnected to the world and universe around you is it for me. It's something that encompasses my mind, emotions, and perceptions. Ultimately, I don't see it as being supernatural as I lack a belief in the supernatural.

 

 

I agree about the supernatural aspect of spirituality as you say.  Though I am in the early stages of exploring what spirituality is, at least at this point, I see it as a totally natural, human experience.  Maybe the challenge is to allow ourselves to experience it and perhaps not to overly define it, but just to go with it.

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Spirituality is simply the experience of ones own being. How much one pursues knowing that in themselves, is a spiritual practice of whatever works for you, or not if it doesn't compel you that much. All the rest is simply ways to talk about what that is in you, to try to find a hook to relate it to yourself and your own pursuit of that. Those ways to talk about it do not define what spirituality is. That's why religion and spirituality may be related (or not), but they are not the same thing. Religions at best are a tool to help realize the depths of that being in ourselves, at worst they snuff the life out of it and leave us cynics towards anything remotely related to opening the door to the inner self.

 

Well said and I find your words helpful.  I also totally agree that religions can "snuff the life out of" spirituality.

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