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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spirituality 101

I don't frequently look up definitions, do you?  I seem to hold the belief that the last time I needed to look at a dictionary was in school, that whatever I think a word means is good enough. 

Perhaps you recognize the reference to Humpty Dumpty's pronouncement in Alice In Wonderland?  "'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'It means just what I choose it to mean - neither more or less.'"  Of course, the author, Lewis Carroll, wants to show that Humpty Dumpty is an arrogant egg.  With good British wit, however, Carroll's H.D. is also speaking the truth.  For even though we acknowledge that words have meanings, the layers of meanings in what we say modify generally accepted meanings thoroughly.  

Consider the word "green.'" 

Or how about the word "Christian?" 

From our conversations about "spirituality," we've discovered a variety of meanings and an uncertainty, for some of us, about any meaning.  Perhaps some definitions will help.

-- Spirituality: having to do with the human spirit.  That's a good start, although it kind of postpones an answer. 

-- Spirituality: having to do with the soul, incorporeal, not pertaining to material things but to intangibles.  That helps a little more, I think.  We are in the domain of the 'intangible.'  For those of us who like concrete information, this suggests, we're likely to be unsatisfied.  Spirituality is not something concrete, not something you can touch. 

-- Spirituality: to be distinguished from our physical experience, our material body.  This is helpful.  It is a very old idea, embedded in much of the Bible, that the material body and the spirit, or spirituality, are separate domains.  Do you agree?  Separating spirituality or spirit from the physical experience of being a human is helpful, up to a point.  It helps us to see clearly.  However, it also makes a false distinction between mind and body.  For we are mind and body – one entity.  There is no mind separate from the physical and chemical activity of heart, lungs, brain, etc. 

-- Spirituality: belief in an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality.  Do you believe that there is a reality beyond what we can perceive?  Do you assert that there is  "more?" 

-- Spirituality: an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being.  That's an interesting one, isn't it?  Now the definition is leading us to consider not so much how the cosmos is arranged or the nature of reality but how we experience and use this thing we name spirituality.  
I think we can stop there for this posting.

Would you consider these aspects of spirituality and let me know your thoughts?  I'm not asking you to go find more definitions, although you certainly may do so.  Rather, I invite you to consider the questions posed so far in this survey of meaning.  Spirituality's intangibleness, the idea of a separation between you as a physical body that is alive and you as something spiritual, the idea that there is something, some reality that is "more" than our concrete experience of reality, and especially, that there is an inner path which, by taking it, you can discover the essence of your being.
And pray with me too.  

Dear God, Dearest God, reveal to us sufficient insight into the mystery of  ourselves and our relationship to this wonderful creation.  We attribute our creation and all creation to you and so we give you our attention, our love, our praise, and all the glory.  Amen.