What does 'spirituality' mean to you?

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EnterZenFromThere
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What does 'spirituality' mean to you?

Post by EnterZenFromThere » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:53 am

Hello!

I've been thinking about the word 'spirituality' lately. When I first came across the spiritual scene I made the massive assumption that everyone was coming at spirituality from the same place, a place similar to my own experiences. I assumed my experience of Presence was the same as other people. I assumed what spirituality meant to me was the same/similar as other people. I'd like to clarify that a little by asking a couple of questions. First, what does spirituality mean to you? And second, could you briefly describe your spiritual background e.g. briefly how you first discovered spirituality and how it evolved for you.

Many thanks,

Jack

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Onceler
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Re: What does 'spirituality' mean to you?

Post by Onceler » Tue Feb 03, 2015 12:55 pm

This is a great question and one I've been thinking about a lot lately......I won't go into my spiritual biography, since I've done so numerous times, but will try to answer the question. My understanding of spirituality has changed from something 'other', something I will attain in the future, to an integral sense of the process of living. It is a sense of integration with my life. An immersion into my thoughts, emotions, and actions. I am becoming more sensitive to right action.....I feel bad when engaged in something not in keeping with what I 'should' be doing, but not necessarily in a moral right/wrong sense. This is hard to explain, but there seems to be an impulse to do certain things and to not do others. A bad day can be spiritual, in that I can recognize which actions caused suffering to me and those around me.

I guess it has everything to do with living in the moment and finding the intuitive path thru a myriad of choices.
Be present, be pleasant.

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Re: What does 'spirituality' mean to you?

Post by Webwanderer » Tue Feb 03, 2015 3:03 pm

An excellent question to consider.

To me, spirituality is the essence of life that is inclusive of, but not limited to human physicality. Spirituality is our true nature - consciousness and being, eternal and infinite. In that, we have the potentiality to explore and experience anything we can imagine.

WW

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Re: What does 'spirituality' mean to you?

Post by snowheight » Tue Feb 03, 2015 5:42 pm

Before I read TPON spirituality was something that was at total arms length and taken with a grain of salt, as I was a hardcore secular humanist that relied on my skepticism like a crutch, almost as a sort of coping mechanism. By that time I'd softened over the years from an atheist into an agnostic ... my guess is that years of consciously seeking only conceptual truth -- if there is also unconscious communion with life at the same time -- will likely afford that opportunity for opening up to most peeps. :)

After that, I'd consider participation here as my first real dance with spirituality, and I'd define it now as the process of bridging the subjective divide that can be had by reaching common understanding among minds and hearts about what it is that life is all about, or said another way, what it is that we are.
Stop talking. Hear every sound as background. Look straight ahead and focus. Take one deep breath. This is you. This is Now.

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Re: What does 'spirituality' mean to you?

Post by snowheight » Tue Feb 03, 2015 5:44 pm

EnterZenFromThere wrote:Hello!

I've been thinking about the word 'spirituality' lately. When I first came across the spiritual scene I made the massive assumption that everyone was coming at spirituality from the same place, a place similar to my own experiences. I assumed my experience of Presence was the same as other people. I assumed what spirituality meant to me was the same/similar as other people. I'd like to clarify that a little by asking a couple of questions. First, what does spirituality mean to you? And second, could you briefly describe your spiritual background e.g. briefly how you first discovered spirituality and how it evolved for you.

Many thanks,

Jack
And you Jack? What does it mean to you now?
Stop talking. Hear every sound as background. Look straight ahead and focus. Take one deep breath. This is you. This is Now.

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Rob X
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Re: What does 'spirituality' mean to you?

Post by Rob X » Tue Feb 03, 2015 6:41 pm

In 1999 I was going through a pretty rough patch - working too hard and drinking too much. I was totally exhausted and felt that I was on the verge of some sort of a breakdown. One day I was in a newsagents when a little book about meditation caught my eye. Now at that time I had no affinity with anything remotely spiritual so for me to buy this book was a big deal. I didn't tell anyone about it and just put away for a few weeks. Eventually I got round to reading it and tried one of the exercises (following the breath.)

On about the second or third attempt at this meditation, something unexpected and remarkable happened. As I sat there, just staying with the in and out breaths, I became aware of the faint ringing of a distant church bell and suddenly... I fell away. It was as if there was no 'me' in opposition to everything else - there was just simply everything - a sense of utter present-ness and completeness. (This was the nearest thing to a description of it at the time.) It only lasted for a few moments but it felt totally natural and familiar and I knew that my 'normal' condition was somehow laboured and unnatural. Of course I've since come to know this phenomenon as satori and have encountered it many times since.

This 'knowledge' or taste of a deeper, more expansive and natural sense of being is what I would define as the essence of spirituality.

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Re: What does 'spirituality' mean to you?

Post by Enlightened2B » Tue Feb 03, 2015 7:19 pm

I got into mindfulness/meditation back in 2007 when a health issue struck me.

Fast forward to 2012, a friend of mine introduced me to the book 'A New Earth' and it all took off for me. It was the same premise of 'Being in the Now' that meditation brought and one day, I watched an Eckhart Tolle video on 'anger' and it hit me. The first in a line of a few 'samadhi like' experiences of intense bliss. That's where the term 'spirituality' really took off for me, early 2013. In the past two years now, I've explored multiple paths of spirituality including Vedanta, Direct Path, Neo-Advaita, Buddhist and have found that most of them are too dogmatic for me. The study of non-physical realities including NDE's been the most crucial to my spiritual growth and evolution because of what I've been able to take out of other's experiences and apply to my own experience. I should say that most of all, this forum and certain posters have been so incredibly helpful to my own spiritual growth.

As for what spirituality means now to me, it seems to change constantly in an evolving process, but it's exactly what it sounds like. The eternal expression of Spirit. Spirit is what we are and spirituality is about embracing what we are, or awakening to that eternal Presence/Spirit/Love/Awareness or whatever term you'd like to use. But, how I see spirituality now is even somewhat different/broader. It's the understanding of how awakening in physical reality is a gift because of the opportunity of relationship and reflection with any and everything in every nano second of our expression here on the physical plane. Separation too is a gift and an opportunity for growth in the understanding that there are only relationships at this level and relationships/separation gives us an incredible opportunity to see ourselves in relation to something perceived to be NOT our self. And in that, I've been able to widen my perspective more out of the limited lens of my mind/body. Still working through a lot of ingrained/conditioned fears, but I don't expect to eradicate all of my fears in this lifetime alone.

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Re: What does 'spirituality' mean to you?

Post by smiileyjen101 » Tue Feb 03, 2015 11:21 pm

First, what does spirituality mean to you?
I agree, good question. When I first came here I had to consider that what others were speaking of in 'spirit' and 'meditation' or even in opening oneself up to 'presence', was maybe not quite the same experience as mine. :wink:

For me our spirituality is awareness of and interaction with that which is not so easily definable. The approx. 95% of energy inside, outside and around all of that which has been examined and named, the essence, breath of life, creation energy in eternal and changeable motion, intensity & manifestation, spirit.

The sigh of a tree, the tremble in a deer, the feeling and reading of the intangible elements of energy in motion combining with the tangible in manifestation, to the degree that we open our awareness to it.

Unlike a 'belief', which is usually static and prescriptive, this is just awareness and willingness to embrace awareness however, wherever, whenever, while simultaneously recognising relative individuation and yet knowing it's a thin cloak of conduits through which, within and around, creation energies flow.
And second, could you briefly describe your spiritual background e.g. briefly how you first discovered spirituality and how it evolved for you.
Awareness & interaction with spirit was 'normal', and well honed in my maternal line heritage, and questioned and held up to scrutiny by my paternal heritage, so I've had the perfect blend of influences in experience & understanding. For a long time the seeming two distinct 'camps' - logic and intuition were at odds, and my experiences would swing in the distance between them.

ET's work helped me to understand better where the 'logic' side was coming from was not necessarily as 'factual' as it might be presented. When the intuition side just 'is', the logic side seeks to either accept.. or more often make enemy, obstacle or means to an end of it. To 'reason' it away, but often using false logic or untrue premises as the basis of the argument on assumption, not fact.

It is a fact that we do not know what the approx 95% of all matter and all energy is, or its properties or its influence or its purpose or its interaction in and with form, and its reach in time, space and density.

By noticing in myself, and somewhat more lightly questioning and discerning in others where states of making enemy, obstacle, means to an end of 'what is', both with intuition and with logic, I found a way to discern fear and ego as they arise. Rather than straddle extremes and swing wildly between them, I tend now to sway more gently in the equilibrium of them knowing and allowing them each their time more honestly, fairly and recognising they are both beneficial in growing awareness, capacity & willingness, and both can be misinterpreted or misrepresented at times.

In a funny way, because raising the notions of ethos, logos and pathos as keys in communicating with self and others was deemed too 'intellectual' in another topic - the balance of them - ethos-values, pathos-emotions/intuition, and logos - facts - when balanced honestly bring the peace that is not available when they are not in harmony or are not being presented and accepted in awareness, capacity & willingness.

So, in that I agree with Webby that
To me, spirituality is the essence of life that is inclusive of, but not limited to human physicality.
..
known and manifest in degrees of awareness.
Our rights start deep within our humanity; they end where another's begin~~ SmileyJen

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Re: What does 'spirituality' mean to you?

Post by EternalPrize » Wed Feb 04, 2015 3:03 am

Great question, and something I've been trying to describe better myself lately. I think Alan Watts had a good quote about it.

Spirituality means real life. It is to get directly in touch with the here and now, the basics, the plain. 95%+ people think it means some sort of "transcending" or something "beyond," but really it means what is actually here.

The end.

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EnterZenFromThere
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Re: What does 'spirituality' mean to you?

Post by EnterZenFromThere » Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:28 am

Thanks for all the replies - every answer has been great to read, excellently written, and fascinating how everyone describes spirituality differently, though with some people overlapping more or less with others.
snowheight wrote:And you Jack? What does it mean to you now?
Thanks for asking! The way I see it there is no objective answer to this question. Only our own relative interpretation of what spirituality means for us, open to change in every moment. I feel a definition of spirituality should be very open - to embrace the freedom inherent within spirit. I don't see spirituality as limited to a specific dogma or opinion, though it can be expressed in those ways.

To me, spirituality is the exploration of life to raise awareness of life and enhance quality of life.

By this definition you don't need to believe you are being spiritual to be spiritual. Just experiencing the life you live is enough. Through this experiencing you raise your awareness of what you are experiencing. Regardless of whether this experience is perceived as positive or negative by you, you still raise your awareness of life through your experiencing of it. This raising of awareness leads to a navigation toward what we desire and away from what repulses us. Like magnets we gravitate toward a higher quality of life. This may not be perceptible at times, but I feel, in the bigger picture, this is always what is taking place. Even a step backward is a step forward - it's a step back to make space for a running jump - the net result is always moving further forward - always more growth of being - always more difference - always more comparison - always more potential for growth through the comparison and navigation of difference. Even if our awareness or quality of life seem low now, that is only so that all being can be enhanced by the experiences we offer.

My background is similar to some of the other posts. I was a depressed and anxious atheist, dependent on drink, drugs, career ambitions and relationships to get through life. As with you Snowheight I softened over time and became agnostic. I realised that absolutely denying something was just like absolutely agreeing with it. If I didn't like the church because it absolutely believed in God, the answer wasn't to absolutely deny it. I didn't know anything about spirituality - I thought it was the philosophy of religion or something. In March 2013 someone suggested I watch an Eckhart Tolle video. I saw one of the titles was called 'how to stop thinking'. Rather than watch it I decided to try and stop thinking. I sat on my bed and took a few breaths and within seconds all my thoughts evaporated. For 15-20 minutes I was experiencing a purer way of being. I realised there was vastly more to life than I had previously thought. Since then I dabbled in Buddhism, Advaita Vedanta, and Channeling. I found many of the teachers in the community to be more interested in telling me their experience than listening to mine. So I decided to go my own way and explore life using my own inner connection, and trusting that above the opinions of others (while still respecting the validity of their opinion from their point of view). Since then I feel much less pressure to be anything other than myself. In this relaxation I feel life unfurl itself to me. Expanding my awareness with every experience. Good times!

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Re: What does 'spirituality' mean to you?

Post by KathleenBrugger » Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:16 pm

EnterZenFromThere wrote: To me, spirituality is the exploration of life to raise awareness of life and enhance quality of life.
I like this, Jack. I used to think spirituality meant God had to be involved in some way or other, so when I first got interested in these things 25+ years ago, I said I was into "higher consciousness." At that time I was what I would now call "apatheistic." I didn't much care about God one way or the other (that's a real word btw). What I was interested in was finding out what was wrong with the world, including myself. Why was there so many lies and so little love? As I have written before on this forum, my husband and I followed our own path of self-inquiry, challenging ourselves about our own bullshit.

About 15 years ago, I realized that my path was basically intellectual, and didn't include the heart. There was a lot of understanding but still not a lot of love and compassion. I read a lot of books, principally Alan Watts, and also TPON, and started lovingkindness meditation. Slowly I developed my GLACHH practice, which just recently my husband and I have put in what seems the right order to describe our path: Honesty, Humility, Acceptance, Compassion, Love, Gratitude (just doesn't spell out a good acronym).

After our conversation I wrote this in my journal: First be honest. Say what is true from my perspective without compromise, while, in humility, remember the limitations of my knowledge. Accept the world as it is. From acceptance will flow compassion, because I see that it is all perfect. Out of compassion flows love, because I realize that true love is the experience of acceptance, not some hearts and flowers fairy-tale. Once you have seen this much, your heart opens in gratitude for the experience of being alive.

It's only recently that I've been calling this a spiritual path, and it's because I've come to realize that, for me, spiritual means the search for meaning and purpose in life.
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Re: What does 'spirituality' mean to you?

Post by rachMiel » Thu Feb 05, 2015 2:58 am

For me, spirituality is embracing the mystery.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Re: What does 'spirituality' mean to you?

Post by Onceler » Thu Feb 05, 2015 12:44 pm

For me, this morning, spirituality is distillation. Finding the simplist, most basic, bullshit free, unfiltered perception of what's in front of me.
Be present, be pleasant.

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Re: What does 'spirituality' mean to you?

Post by snowheight » Fri Feb 06, 2015 12:18 am

EnterZenFromThere wrote: I didn't know anything about spirituality - I thought it was the philosophy of religion or something. In March 2013 someone suggested I watch an Eckhart Tolle video. I saw one of the titles was called 'how to stop thinking'. Rather than watch it I decided to try and stop thinking. I sat on my bed and took a few breaths and within seconds all my thoughts evaporated. For 15-20 minutes I was experiencing a purer way of being.
:D The world knocks, and how could we possibly fail to answer? There is no try, only be.

There is a commonality to many of the descriptions I've read over time along these lines -- conscious attention minus thought can be profoundly transformative. The way I describe how it went down for me is reading these words "You Are Not Your Mind" and thinking "hmmm ... that's an odd little idea ... well, if I'm not my mind then, well what am I?? Image" -- the rest of what Tolle wrote after that definitely helped! :D

Looking back I'd say I trusted the process of suspending disbelief of what Tolle had written because at that point in my life I'd learned to trust myself.

What I found afterward was that many many ideas that I previously would have scoffed and sneered at suddenly started to make an odd sort of sense to me. One of them is that you are perfect, just as you are.
EnterZenFromThere wrote: So I decided to go my own way and explore life using my own inner connection, and trusting that above the opinions of others (while still respecting the validity of their opinion from their point of view). Since then I feel much less pressure to be anything other than myself. In this relaxation I feel life unfurl itself to me. Expanding my awareness with every experience.
Human experience is so diverse and on such a vast scale and is woven with so many commonalities that it's no surprise that certain ideas repeat themselves as they're discovered independently over time by different individuals. Some particular expressions tend to be celebrated because of how they seem to reach back to directly address what's behind every pair of eyes. I've found this guy to have been the source of more than a few of those. :)

(From Chapter 92 of "I AM THAT", "Go Beyond the 'I am the body' idea")

Niz: People differ. But all are faced with the fact of their own existence. 'I am' is the ultimate fact; 'Who am I'? is the ultimate question to which everybody must find an answer.

Q: The same answer?

Niz: The same in essence, varied in expression. Each seeker accepts or invents a method which suits him, applies it to himself with some earnestness and effort, obtains results according to his temperament and expectations, casts them into the mould of words, builds them into a system, establishes a tradition and begins to admit others into his 'school of yoga.' It is all built on memory and imagination. No such school is valueless nor indispensable; in each, one can progress up to the point when all desire for progress must be abandoned to make further progress possible. Then all schools are given up, all effort ceases; in solitude and darkness, the last step is made which ends ignorance and fear forever.

The true teacher, however, will not imprison his disciple in a prescribed set of ideas, feelings and actions; on the contrary, he will show him patiently the need to be free from all ideas and set patterns of behavior, to be vigilant, and earnest and go with life wherever it takes him, not to enjoy or suffer, but to understand and learn.

Under the right teacher, the disciple learns to learn, not to remember and obey. Satsang, the company of the noble, does not mould, it liberates. Beware of all that makes you dependent. Most of the so-called "surrenders to the guru' end in disappointment, if not in tragedy. Fortunately, an earnest seeker will disentangle himself in time, the wiser for the experience.


Like may of the members here, I've used the internet over the years as a substitute for having to either travel to other cities to meet others to "sit in/with truth" (Satsang) or go through the trouble of advertising for like minded individuals
Stop talking. Hear every sound as background. Look straight ahead and focus. Take one deep breath. This is you. This is Now.

snowheight
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Re: What does 'spirituality' mean to you?

Post by snowheight » Fri Feb 06, 2015 12:35 am

KathleenBrugger wrote:
EnterZenFromThere wrote: To me, spirituality is the exploration of life to raise awareness of life and enhance quality of life.
I like this, Jack. I used to think spirituality meant God had to be involved in some way or other, so when I first got interested in these things 25+ years ago, I said I was into "higher consciousness." At that time I was what I would now call "apatheistic." I didn't much care about God one way or the other (that's a real word btw). What I was interested in was finding out what was wrong with the world, including myself. Why was there so many lies and so little love? As I have written before on this forum, my husband and I followed our own path of self-inquiry, challenging ourselves about our own bullshit.

About 15 years ago, I realized that my path was basically intellectual, and didn't include the heart. There was a lot of understanding but still not a lot of love and compassion. I read a lot of books, principally Alan Watts, and also TPON, and started lovingkindness meditation. Slowly I developed my GLACHH practice, which just recently my husband and I have put in what seems the right order to describe our path: Honesty, Humility, Acceptance, Compassion, Love, Gratitude (just doesn't spell out a good acronym).

After our conversation I wrote this in my journal: First be honest. Say what is true from my perspective without compromise, while, in humility, remember the limitations of my knowledge. Accept the world as it is. From acceptance will flow compassion, because I see that it is all perfect. Out of compassion flows love, because I realize that true love is the experience of acceptance, not some hearts and flowers fairy-tale. Once you have seen this much, your heart opens in gratitude for the experience of being alive.

It's only recently that I've been calling this a spiritual path, and it's because I've come to realize that, for me, spiritual means the search for meaning and purpose in life.
As any notion of the quality of life implicates value, it's natural to make a statement of those in response to that idea, and as far as self-honesty is concerned, as Billy Shakes said "and it will follow as sure as the night follows day that you cannot be false to any man".

There's another cliche that I'm sure you've heard before that I'll justify with the cliche that cliche's are cliche's for a reason .. :) .. you are the meaning and purpose that is sought, and any step in search of that is a step away from it.

This isn't to say that there's nothing to be done. Obviously stuff happens all the time and without actors there is no action. But where there is resistance is where the doer can be found, and it can be inquired: is what struggles, is what makes an effort, is what searches what you are, or a step away from that?
Stop talking. Hear every sound as background. Look straight ahead and focus. Take one deep breath. This is you. This is Now.

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