Defining spirituality

#21
I love this line.

…selfish fellowship on the warm, dirty earth, under a cold and empty sky.

The Snakeskin
"…Man (as I experience myself and the world around me) has set himself free, fearfully, breathtakingly free. Religion and art are kept alive for sentimental reasons, as a conventional courtesy to the past, or in benevolent concern for the increasingly nervous citizens of leisure.

I am still declaring my subjective view. I hope and am convinced that others have a more balanced and allegedly objective view. If now I take all these unfortunate factors into consideration and assert that in spite of everything I wish to continue making art, it is for one very simple reason. (I will disregard any purely material considerations.)

This reason is curiosity. An unbounded, never satisfied, continuously renewed, unbearable curiosity, which drives me forward, never leaves me in peace, and completely replaces my hunger for fellowship.

I feel like a prisoner who has served a long sentence and suddenly tumbled out into the booming, howling, snorting world outside. I am seized by an intractable curiosity. I note, I observe, I have my eyes with me, everything is unreal, fantastic, frightening, or ridiculous. I capture a flying particle of dust, perhaps it's a film, and of what importance will that be: none whatsoever, but I myself find it interesting, so it's a film. I revolve with objects I have captured for myself and am cheerfully or melancholically occupied. I elbow my way in with the other ants, we do a colossal job. The snakeskin moves.

This and this only is my truth. I don't ask that it should be true for anyone else and, as comfort for eternity, it is naturally on the slim side. As a basis for artistic activity during the next few years it is entirely adequate, at least for me.

To be an artist for one's own sake is not always very agreeable. But it has one outstanding advantage: the artist is on an equal footing with every other creature who also exists solely for his own sake. Taken together, we are probably a fairly large brotherhood who exist in this way in selfish fellowship on the warm, dirty earth, under a cold and empty sky."
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#23
(Apr 25, 2018 07:43 PM)Magical Realist Wrote: Many definitions for spirituality. It's hard to pin down such a general concept. What is your take on it?

"There is no single, widely agreed upon definition of spirituality. Surveys of the definition of the term, as used in scholarly research, show a broad range of definitions ranging from uni-dimensional definitions such as a personal belief in a supernatural realm to broader concepts such as a quest for an ultimate/sacred meaning, transcending the base/material aspects of life, and/or a sense of awe/wonderment and reverence toward the universe.[citation needed] A survey of reviews by McCarroll e.a. dealing with the topic of spirituality gave twenty-seven explicit definitions, among which "there was little agreement." This causes some difficulty in trying to study spirituality systematically; i.e., it impedes both understanding and the capacity to communicate findings in a meaningful fashion.

I think that's all true. Of course it's true for many other of our central concepts, like 'religion', 'God, 'good', 'freedom', 'truth', 'love', 'beauty', 'art', 'democracy', 'equality'... and on and on. All of them are pretty vague when we get down to it.

Maybe the way to approach 'spirituality' is historically. My impression (I'm not a professional scholar) is that it's an artifact of the Christian tradition. (It's conceivable that Islam, Hinduism etc. have analogous ideas.)

'Spirit' (Latin 'spiritus') literally means 'breath' and at one time the ancients believed that life, the life-force, the animating principle that made living things alive was found in the breath. Hence people spoke of gods 'breathing life' into things. People died when their breath left them. That btw, is the origin of the idea and image of ghosts today as misty vapors hanging around places where deaths happened.

A major part of Christian mythology is the idea of the Holy Spirit, the life-force, the breath of God which descends on those who accept Christ and supposedly transforms them (so the story goes). In the case of most Christians, this transformation is imperceptible (sad, isn't it?) but it's still the basis of the idea of being 'born-again', I guess.

So being 'spiritual', in this latter Christian sense, isn't just the biological quality of being alive like a frog or a bug. It's supposed to be some divine life force that enters into people and divinizes them, transforming them into something (if not literally a god) at least god-like.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divinization_(Christian)

Then, in the last decades of the 20th century, this idea of "spirituality" underwent another transmutation where it was separated from the Christian tradition and from Christian doctrine almost entirely, and came to refer to human beings who display qualities that those using the word associate with divinity. A spiritual person is loving, he or she displays all of the ethical qualities, is just naturally beautiful in action if not in physique, is attuned to the 'higher realities' and all of that.

But since different people associate different qualities with divinity, and those qualities in different degrees, "spirituality" means different things to different people.

An interesting speculation is that emphasis on spirituality might historically be an expression of alienation from the conventional church and from mainstream religion. It embodies kind of an implicit rebuke of all those who continue to act like assholes, while boasting 'I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior! My sins are forgiven (so I can commit as many as I like)!! I'm going to Heaven and you're going to Hell!' Those medievals who emphasized spirituality may have believed that anyone actually touched by the divine, by the Holy Spirit of God no less, should damn well act like it. One would expect such a huge supernatural event to have profoundly transformative effects in the life of the person receiving it.
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#24
If spirituality is not about personal transformation, it's just a trendy fad.
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#25
(Jul 15, 2018 04:19 PM)Yazata Wrote:
(Apr 25, 2018 07:43 PM)Magical Realist Wrote: Many definitions for spirituality. It's hard to pin down such a general concept. What is your take on it?

"There is no single, widely agreed upon definition of spirituality. Surveys of the definition of the term, as used in scholarly research, show a broad range of definitions ranging from uni-dimensional definitions such as a personal belief in a supernatural realm to broader concepts such as a quest for an ultimate/sacred meaning, transcending the base/material aspects of life, and/or a sense of awe/wonderment and reverence toward the universe.[citation needed] A survey of reviews by McCarroll e.a. dealing with the topic of spirituality gave twenty-seven explicit definitions, among which "there was little agreement." This causes some difficulty in trying to study spirituality systematically; i.e., it impedes both understanding and the capacity to communicate findings in a meaningful fashion.

I think that's all true. Of course it's true for many other of our central concepts, like 'religion', 'God, 'good', 'freedom', 'truth', 'love', 'beauty', 'art', 'democracy', 'equality'... and on and on. All of them are pretty vague when we get down to it.

Maybe the way to approach 'spirituality' is historically. My impression (I'm not a professional scholar) is that it's an artifact of the Christian tradition. (It's conceivable that Islam, Hinduism etc. have analogous ideas.)

'Spirit' (Latin 'spiritus') literally means 'breath' and at one time the ancients believed that life, the life-force, the animating principle that made living things alive was found in the breath. Hence people spoke of gods 'breathing life' into things. People died when their breath left them. That btw, is the origin of the idea and image of ghosts today as misty vapors hanging around places where deaths happened.

A major part of Christian mythology is the idea of the Holy Spirit, the life-force, the breath of God which descends on those who accept Christ and supposedly transforms them (so the story goes). In the case of most Christians, this transformation is imperceptible (sad, isn't it?) but it's still the basis of the idea of being 'born-again', I guess.

So being 'spiritual', in this latter Christian sense, isn't just the biological quality of being alive like a frog or a bug. It's supposed to be some divine life force that enters into people and divinizes them, transforming them into something (if not literally a god) at least god-like.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divinization_(Christian)

Then, in the last decades of the 20th century, this idea of "spirituality" underwent another transmutation where it was separated from the Christian tradition and from Christian doctrine almost entirely, and came to refer to human beings who display qualities that those using the word associate with divinity. A spiritual person is loving, he or she displays all of the ethical qualities, is just naturally beautiful in action if not in physique, is attuned to the 'higher realities' and all of that.

But since different people associate different qualities with divinity, and those qualities in different degrees, "spirituality" means different things to different people.

An interesting speculation is that emphasis on spirituality might historically be an expression of alienation from the conventional church and from mainstream religion. It embodies kind of an implicit rebuke of all those who continue to act like assholes, while boasting 'I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior! My sins are forgiven (so I can commit as many as I like)!! I'm going to Heaven and you're going to Hell!' Those medievals who emphasized spirituality may have believed that anyone actually touched by the divine, by the Holy Spirit of God no less, should damn well act like it. One would expect such a huge supernatural event to have profoundly transformative effects in the life of the person receiving it.


The expectations of transformation after one has accepted the Lord Christ as their savior may be imperceptible but human fallibility does not negate the universal awareness or the primary Global Operator (which exists in a dimension that is 90 degrees to the one you are familiar with). Both Langan and I know God is real yet we're both riddled with personality flaws. The idea of expecting a religion to transform one's personality for the better originates from the flawed belief in a Creator God. But that is not the case. Every human is indeed special and this is understood in that higher dimension where one's physical composition intersects with the spirit of God. It is only then that divinity is fully grasped, NOT IN ORDINARY REALITY. The fact that reality even exists in the first place raises the question of how it got here and how many levels does it amount to. Such inquiry suggests that the possibility of these existing factors are real. If you have further questions I would be happy to answer them.
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