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Spirituality

 


“Man does not live by bread alone,” Jesus said. “He needs butter too,” the wit added. But even with butter on it, bread will not satisfy the human being for long. His soul hankers after something, something that is not quite of this world. That hankering is what makes the human beings spiritual.

It is difficult to speak about the soul or the spirit because science has not been able to identify that part of the human being. The soul is not the mind. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts especially when we come to living organisms and all the more so in the case of human beings. Man is not just the body and the mind put together. There is something more to the person than the body-mind sum. That ‘more’ is the soul or the spirit.

It is the soul that makes a person a spiritual being. It is the soul that makes us feel that we are incomplete somehow and consequently puts us on a quest for completion. That quest for completion is what spirituality is essentially about.

To complete ourselves, we need something from out there. Some people find that something in God, some in religion, many in art and literature, quite a few in unique personal commitments.

It is a common misunderstanding that one needs religion in order to be spiritual. One of the most spiritual characters in fiction is arguably Dr Bernard Rieux in Camus’s novel, The Plague.  

Dr Rieux does not believe in religion and God. When the plague breaks out in Oran and people start deserting the quarantined city, Dr Rieux chooses to stay back and fight the plague with all his talent and strength. He does not see himself as a hero. He sees it as his duty to combat disease and restore health. He is a “true healer” in the words of a philosophical chronicler in the novel. He knows that disease is one of the evils that plague mankind and it should be combatted. All evils should be combatted. The internalisation of that superior consciousness is man’s real spirituality.

Spirituality is not about suffering for a god, not dying or killing for a god. Spirituality is not uttering prayers in temples or churches. It is not even going on pilgrimages or donating to charity. Prayers, pilgrimages and charity may help one to become spiritual. But spirituality is not those things. Spirituality is a realisation of our oneness with the cosmic reality whose evils we should mitigate as best as we can. The spiritual person knows that the evils of the reality out there are part of himself because he is a part of that reality. The same goes for goodness too. And so it become the duty of any spiritual person to increase the goodness and reduce the evil in the world around him.

Man-made entities like religion, nation/nationalism, race, class (socialism’s working class, for example), and political party can never lead one to genuine spirituality because the moment you make any of these entities absolute you are on the way to totalitarian domination by some people over other people.

Spirituality has nothing to do with domination or subordination. Spirituality is about liberation. It liberates you from the clutches of narrow considerations that divide creatures into we-and-them or high-and-low or whatever. Spirituality enables you to perceive the sanctity where it does exist. Spirituality enables you to enhance that sanctity, to make the world a better place.  

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Previous post in this series: Rebel


 

Comments

  1. Often people don't understand the difference between spirituality and religion

    ReplyDelete
  2. A spiritual person would not kill. A religious person would in the name of his religion...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. Religion is no guarantee for the soul's emancipation. It can, on the contrary, bring out the devil with.

      Delete
  3. Wonderful post. Each and every point you make is robust and (in my mind, at least) true.
    Thank you.
    Love this: "The spiritual person knows that the evils of the reality out there are part of himself because he is a part of that reality."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. Great to have readers who catch what the writer is saying.

      Delete
  4. Your points are all correct. Confusing spirituality with religion is grave fault. Somehow your post today calmed my troubled mind. Thank you for writing this
    Deepika Sharma

    ReplyDelete
  5. "Spirituality is not about suffering for a god, not dying or killing for a god. Spirituality is not uttering prayers in temples or churches. It is not even going on pilgrimages or donating to charity. Prayers, pilgrimages and charity may help one to become spiritual. But spirituality is not those things. Spirituality is a realisation of our oneness with the cosmic reality whose evils we should mitigate as best as we can. "

    So true... Wish everyone could understand this concept.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Consciousness level should rise to understand this.

      Delete
  6. Spirituality liberates you from the clutches of narrow considerations that divide creatures into we-and-them or high-and-low or whatever. You said it. And that's why we find a majority of (so-called) religious persons as devoid of spirituality in the real sense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If all religious people were spiritual, this world would be a Paradise.

      Delete

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