Spirituality is awareness of metaphysical existence beyond this organic, material world. Spirituality is evident as one’s relationship to metaphysical realities and how it changes one’s worldview, personality, priorities and lifestyle.
Spirituality goes beyond mere ontological questioning of what is the purpose of life, where are we going to. It goes further because there is an inescapable awareness of a spiritual life. Since it is a particular awareness, spirituality is not for everyone and there are few commonalities shared with others. Spirituality is an existential quest, that also involves questioning and testing dogmatic, religious and cultural norms. Some spiritual teachers, Iesous for example, are on record for saying to a questioner that s/he cannot understand him, that his teaching is not for them, but for another group of people—meaning, his teaching is for those who have developed spirituality.
Some souls develop spiritual awareness that may find expression in any religion or secular path, yet more often than not it finds expression in a unique way appropriate to the individual - at the time. The quest of spirituality is evolutionary, a growth process, therefore, it is marked with constant change.
Spirituality is most noticable in one’s everyday lifestyle, reasoning and conduct. Religion’s most noticable impact is in how people get married and buried.
Western people with spirituality often take a tour of several secular paths such as atheism, agnosticism, vegan, political correctness, sharing positive quotes, animal loving and eco-awareness and the self-improvement awareness. Interests may develop in hatha yoga, crystals, energy healing, numerology, light work, angeology, angelic healing, channeling, theosophy, and more. Some will take a walk in the parks of neo-buddhism, neo-tantra, neo-advaita, etc.
Historically speaking, westerners with highly developed spirituality were often religious mystics found in the shadows and dusty corners of religious movements - whether or not they agreed with the dogma - most have freed themselves of those shackles. Of these, who immediately come to mind are great souls such as Rumi, Hafiz, St. Francis of Assisi, Theresa of Avila, Origen, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Gregory of Nyssa, et al.
Easterners are a blessing to the world for upholding and keeping alive some of humankind’s most ancient mystical traditions, dating back thousands of years BCE. Mystics are not typically found in institutions, Temples and Pagoda where religion, rite and route is practised but in small spiritual communities and schools all over India, China, Japan and SE Asia.
In English language the suffix ‘ity’ denotes a state or way of being. For example:
- sex - sexual (quality) - sexuality (defined state, or way of being)
- spirit - spiritual (quality) - spirituality (defined state, or way of being)
One can ask the question, ‘tell me about your sexuality (or spirituality)’, because it is a state of being, it may be in flux.
Spirituality develops when the soul becomes aware of its spiritual potential - that is, it becomes aware that it wants to change from being a soul to being a spirit. Only some souls will become aware during this lifetime, as the caterpillar who is ready for metamorphosis to start, becomes aware of its potential to change into a different kind of being, aware of its need to change.
The soul becomes aware of things that other souls simply do not see or care to contemplate. Spirituality, inevitably sets the soul on a road to discovery, which often causes alienation from one’s old ways, one’s group-think, and it often brings on some strangeness, even loneliness. Often though, solace is found in association with like-minded people.