Spirituality, a peculiar concept. I understand the animosity that people have towards such a term. Dispelling spirituality from religion seems to annoy religious and irreligious people alike. But, it’s perfectly reasonable to do so. The word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, which is a translation of the Greek pneuma, meaning “breath.” Nonetheless, this notion gets delivered to us bundled with religious mysticism and superstition. What I’m referring to is a kind of experience that’s dissimilar to everyday state of conscious, and to which terms such as contemplative and mystical seem to grant the perfect description.
During the past 3 years I’ve been openly critical of religious dogma, thus my bullshit detector remained active as I studied this matter. In addition, everything I’m conveying can be tested in the laboratory of your own life. So I will not restrict myself to ordinary terminology as l indulge in the topic.
When it comes to science, most scientists have an impoverished view of spirituality and think that it’s just a grandiose fashion of describing the beauty of life, while new age thinkers idealize altered sates of consciousness induced by psychedelic drugs and use them as a tool to the say the most outlandish claims about the nature of reality and our place within it. In the end, we tend to lurch betwixt pseudo spirituality and pseudo science with no clue to what spirituality really stands for.
We’re often encouraged to think about religions as akin. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, this is an artifact of language. The Abrahamic religions are faith-based and intolerantly rigid, each one of them claim to possess the ultimate truth about the universe. Of course, we know this is false because they claim incompatible things about reality. Hinduism is somehow elastic, if an eager Christian insists that Jesus is the son of god, Hindus can make him another avatar of Vishnu without losing any sleep. Moreover, people do not want to hear that Islam support violence in ways Jainism doesn’t or that Buddhism offers an empirical approach to understanding the human mind, while Christianity offers an impediment to such understanding.
We, humans unlike other species, spend our lives in search of happiness. In fact, this elusive notion apparently takes a major part of our lives. We can’t simply be happy. We need something that we think has the magic power to render us happy. We seek pleasant sounds, sight and tastes. We become connoisseurs of art, literature and music. We yearn for relationships only to get bored with them. However, our pleasures are fleeting by their very nature. Our feeling of professional success might stay intoxicating for some few moments, and then it fades away. Most of us began to doubt if a way to induce a lasting change ever exists. Most of us live as if the answer is no- there’s nothing more fulfilling or profound than the avoidance of pain and the repetition of pleasure. But some people suspect, by the claim of eastern religions, that a lasting shift in consciousness is possible before one’s desires are gratified. These people sequester themselves in caves and monasteries only to get in touch with such experiences. While most of us try to avoid loneliness and boredom, these people voluntarily seclude themselves from the outer world in search of spiritual experiences.
One clue to how daunting most people would find such a project is the fact that solitary confinement—which is essentially what we are talking about—is considered a punishment inside a maximum-security prison. However, many contemplative clam to experience a deep psychological wellbeing isolated from the rest of the world in vast stretches of time.
In this vein, a way out the gloomy realm of ruminating presents itself. In fact, salvation open its doors to those who take a genuine inquiry to comprehend the nature of their minds. And the answer is always Now. It may sound rite, especially for people who might be going through some arduous circumstances in their lives. But it’s true, and it’s not a matter of more or less information. It entails a shift in attitude. A change in our way of paying attention to our experience in the present moment as it unfolds. I reckon it’s the most important truth you should understand if you want to be happy in life. Why do you do what you do? Why you yearn professional and social success? We all search for a path back to the present moment and a fashion to just be fulfilled here. Fortuitously, there’s a technique called vipassana (Pali for “insight”), which comes from the oldest tradition of Buddhism, the Theravada. Moreover, it can be practiced in a totally secular way and doesn’t require any eerie belief about reality. It allows you to intently watch your continuum stream of thinking, for the problem is not with thoughts themselves but with being identified with them- the state of thinking unconsciously and compulsively.
Cultivating this quality of mind has been shown to reduce pain, anxiety, and depression; improve cognitive function; and even produce changes in gray matter density in regions of the brain related to learning and memory, emotional regulation, and self-awareness.
In short, meditation has the transmutative power to amend your life. But what’s the ultimate destination? Is there a way to liberate oneself form the grips of rumination? In fact, that’s the path of “enlightenment”. However, many eastern school don’t agree on what it actually means. Some profess that’s a way to irreversibly hush the inner voice. Others say that one cannot stop thinking, but an enlightened person is someone who’s able to see through the hoax of the self- that is to say not being identified with thought. Personally, I remain agnostic on whether such an esoteric way of being exist. Nevertheless, I profess that even if meditation is only a stress reducer, which is indeed false, I think it’s worth giving a shot, especially in a modern secular society where spirituality is what’s missing.