Spirituality

This is probably one of the most important (and controversial) aspects of transcendence—it really does define what transcendence is all about. While the literal definition of spirituality simply means "concerning things of the spirit," the increase of secularization in the modern world has so often given it a broader meaning to people that even those that are skeptical that souls even exist will sometimes call themselves "spiritual". Even those who disregard the need or truth of religion still feel the same desire to find deeper meaning in life, and after years of religious tradition many people still like to call this search for meaning as a search for "spirituality". This is the ultimate goal of transcendence, to find this spirituality, and all of the other traits either magnify or increase your openness to this one.

However you define it or where you look for it, you need to feel like your life has a greater meaning. Many people find this in a belief in religion or a God, and others will find it in some other religious-like new-age thinking, such as the inter-connectivity of the universe or nature. Even if you don't believe in a God or religion doesn't ring true for you, you can still find purpose. It may seem that our life here on earth is nothing but a result of random events with no effect on the grand scale of eternity, but even if our belief in the supernatural is a human creation, so is our belief that our lives are meaningless—we cannot escape the limits of our human perspective. Since the belief that our life has meaning is just as concrete (or just as unsubstantial) as the belief that our lives our meaningless, there is no shame or harm done for searching and finding meaning in our personal lives. In fact, we are much happier and healthier when we do.

Although the road to spirituality is going to end at different places for different people, there are some general guidelines that hundreds of generations of others paving that road have discovered for us. While I am not going to focus on the religious aspect of spirituality, the same general guidelines applies for this realm of spirituality as well, and not just for philosophers. Here are some guidelines that I believe are some of our most basic human discoveries:

  1. We are social animals, and almost all of our meaning is tied up with each other (which also means that we depend upon others to be willing to share that meaning with us)
  2. Our lives should add to the lives of others, and do good—not bad. Living for only ourselves makes it impossible to truly find meaning that is tied to others as noted in point one above. Our earliest laws tried to limit the harm to others done in the name of personal success
  3. Most philosophers and persons of religious genius have believed that meaning is inexplicably tied up with love, which certainly makes the first point much more meaningful
  4. One should find peace with his or her life on this planet. Bitterness and runaway anger has little place for a spiritual life-style

When you add religion in the mix, the above list remains much the same, although it will probably also include a relationship and love for a god, some personal rules that might make some common sense or require some faith to follow, and there might be a greater focus on prayer or meditation than many atheists would naturally agree to. No matter what path you choose, I think it's safe to use a list similar to the one above as the very basic, ground rules for deciding if a religion is right for you and your search for spirituality.

All this said, some people might find enough spirituality in loving others and continually seeking peace (and I think this is a bit farther than many people go), but often times we will want to find something more to give our life meaning. These people will often turn to romance, child-rearing, their jobs, pleasure-seeking, hobbies, religious ritualism, the arts, or a strong focus on friends (and many other things I'm sure I'm not made aware of yet); I really believe that even a fanatic obsession with things like Star Wars, James Bond movies, and furniture building are attempts to find more spirituality.

These goals and other facets of meaning are great for improving the scaffolding and filling in the holes for our sense of purpose. Some of these subjects can be overblown or over-emphasized, however. If you make your job or a hobby a very significant part of your purpose, whenever your job or hobby is threatened (whether it be by loss of work, change of taste, or old age), you might end up with a hole in your life that will be hard to fill. It is safest and healthiest to make people-oriented meaning a more significant part of your search for happiness. Even though people can die or leave you, if you keep your sense of humanity strong enough, you can learn to use others to find meaning and happiness by as time goes on. Note: it can be equally dangerous to connect all of your happiness in one person or entirely outside of yourself.

Here are some activities that I think might help you on your path to spirituality. Look at these, and when you are done, look elsewhere and deep inside yourself as you begin this life-long journey.

Activities

  • Work on Humanity: I really think it is impossible to find real transcendence without humanity (since people who put the word "real" in front of any spiritual or religious term should be questioned, you can feel free to work out your own opinion!). I think once you really hunker down and work on humanity, you might find a lot of spirituality on accident.
  • Work on Temperance: It's hard to find peace if you are always moved into storms by every cold or warm front in your emotional sphere. Find self-control and temperance, and then you can actually benefit from your search for spirituality.
  • Record It: Write down your definition of spirituality and your discoveries in your journal if you have one, and/or talk about it with your closer friends. Heck, if they are a part of your meaning you might want to share it with them as appropriate. Putting things down on paper or saying them out-loud makes them official and also helps you give your answer a more critical eye.
  • Meditate: Even if you're extremely skeptical, you have to at least acknowledge that many religions and philosophical movements have made prayer and meditation a core element of their values, and this was done for a reason. Meditation can help clear you mind and find more peace with the world.
  • Help Out: Volunteer, donate, or help those around you. This should be one of the activities you use to find meaning in your life.
  • Spend More Meaningful Time with You Family and Friends: This is always one of the better places to start.
  • Spend More Time Away from Work or Stress: Spending some regular time with your own thoughts in nature or a favorite place can calm your soul (or "soul") and give you a stronger inclination toward spirituality in general.

Your Record

This is another virtue that depends heavily on personal belief and ideas, so you will have to try your best to be an honest judge with yourself. If you put too much of an emphasis on your own needs over the needs of others, then mark yourself at "fault" for the day. If you focus too long on something not essential to your personal meaning—and it wasn't necessary—then mark yourself at "fault" for the day. Make a goal (and a philosophy) using the activities above and all the resources available to you, and mark yourself at fault if you don't live up to your own reasonable expectations.

Opinions

Without faith, hope and trust, there is no promise for the future, and without a promising future, life has no direction, no meaning and no justification.

Adlin Sinclair, British Born Businessman, Humanitarian, and Motivational Speaker

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.

Mother Teresa, Renown Humanitarian and Catholic Nun

There is not one big cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.

Anais Nin, French born American Author (you can also find numerous other quotes about a "one big cosmic meaning for all" for second opinions as needed)

Golden Mean

Spiritual impoverishment
Spirituality
Unworldliness

Recommended Reading

Essential Spirituality: The 7 Central Practices to Awaken Heart and Mind — by Roger Walsh

The author collected ideas and techniques for finding spirituality from many different religions and philosophies to create a guidebook to help those looking for more.

The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning — by Ernest Kurtz, Katherine Ketcham

This book describes how the Alcoholics Anonymous organization is really a program of sorts for finding spirituality, and how the program uses storytelling in order to achieve results in this search. Many people, if not most of them, use storytelling in order to find meaning, so this is an interesting book about the general search of spirituality.

The Little Book on Meaning: Why We Crave It, How We Create It — by Laura Berman Fortgang

This book attempts to explain why we seek meaning, and how we can find it using a modern, spiritual perspective. Written by a coach that has focused on helping people discover what they want to do with their lives.

Meditation For Dummies — by Stephan Bodian

This book is an introduction to Meditation from the popular "For Dummies" series of books.

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.



On Amazon.com

Sometimes people get the mistaken notion that spirituality is a separate department of life, the penthouse of existence. But rightly understood, it is a vital awareness that pervades all realms of our being. David Steindl-Rast
Sedo - Buy and Sell Domain Names and Websites project info: virtue.net Statistics for project virtue.net etracker® web controlling instead of log file analysis
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