The word “spirituality” comes up regularly around the web, yet given the various uses of that word, I have often wondered what is meant by it.
Further, were you to ask me if my posts are part of a spiritual path I would instantly say yes, but over the years I’ve had to think about what exactly I mean by this.
I started with some definitions available in a dictionary:
1. the principle of conscious life; the vital principle in humans, animating the body or mediating between body and soul.
2. the incorporeal part of humans: present in spirit though absent in body.
3. the soul regarded as separating from the body at death.
4. conscious, incorporeal being, as opposed to matter: the world of spirit.
5. a supernatural, incorporeal being, especially one inhabiting a place, object, etc., or having a particular character: evil spirits.
1. of, pertaining to, or consisting of spirit; incorporeal.
2. of or pertaining to the spirit or soul, as distinguished from the physical nature: a spiritual approach to life.
3. closely akin in interests, attitude, outlook, etc.: the professor’s spiritual heir in linguistics.
4. of or pertaining to spirits or to spiritualists; supernatural or spiritualistic.
5. characterized by or suggesting predominance of the spirit; ethereal or delicately refined: She is more of a spiritual type than her rowdy brother.
1. the quality or fact of being spiritual.
2. incorporeal or immaterial nature.
3. predominantly spiritual character as shown in thought, life, etc.; spiritual tendency or tone.
Of all these, the closest one to my definition is the first one : the principle of conscious life. So I think of these words as follows:
Spirit : the principle of conscious life, specifically self-awareness.
Spiritual : pertaining to consciousness and living as a self-aware being.
Spirituality : ideas and practices which enhance and improve the experience of self-conscious beings.
So if we think of one’s “spirit” as a self-aware consciousness that can develop through practice, we have a foundation for discussing such development as “spiritual” in the broadest possible terms. Reading, contemplating ideas, quiet meditation, along with a reverence for our lives and reality itself are all part of what I think of as spiritual practice.
Further, there is growing awareness of a peaceful mind state is the background against which mental content is noticed. In other words, as the mind settles, one becomes increasingly aware of the serene silence behind thoughts, feelings, etc. The names for this silence are many. But for the purpose in defining spirituality, it is enough to see that one is a self-aware consciousness or “spirit”.
So that’s my definition….so far.