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Seeing the Spirit of Things

Spirituality is about seeing beyond the apparent surface into something more. For some, that surface comes in the form of needs and how our lives are built just to fulfill them day after day. It can feel empty and sometimes it can even feel threatening to live in such a superficial way. Spirituality helps us see more in life, but it’s important that we realize that spirituality that becomes a need itself is just as empty.

spirit-of-need-200The Spirit of Need

Spirituality can give us motivation other than need. We eat when we’re hungry and sometimes make choices from cravings. It’s a necessary ritual. We maintain a home for both immediate shelter and overall security from strangers. The jobs we seek are part of a system to earn money to spend on these needs and hopefully spend on some of the wants, like movies, games, travel and more. All of this seems like just a set of self-serving activities that some can take at face value but that leave others empty. It isn’t until they see something else at the end of the road that means more than the daily act.

spirit-of-belief-200The Spirit of Belief

One danger with spirituality is that it can turn into another kind of need. The beliefs people develop lead to a sense of purpose that feels more protective than just about anything physical. It may be that people who believe in a higher power feel protected by that higher power like a parent who never abandons you. It may be that people who believe in rituals of some kind feel like they have more power in their own lives as a result. It may be simply that spiritual interpretation of experience makes people feel better about all experiences because they can believe it’s all important no matter what happens. These three possibilities and perhaps several more all link belief back to need in a way that fails to free us from need even if it elevates it to something more meaningful.

spirit-of-experience-200The Spirit of Experience

I think spirituality is all about meaning and in particular the meaning of our experiences. Spirituality of any kind uses symbols, like animals or even stories about people, to help explain or embody important events, like falling in love or resolving conflict. These symbols help us take care of the one problem that physical stimulation isn’t as well equipped to handle; that is the problem of our feelings. We feel elated or depressed as circumstances change, but spiritual beliefs help us balance it all out by looking beyond the circumstances into something more everlasting. When we put a context to our feelings through symbols and stories, we’re able to enjoy the moment without getting too carried away. It helps us take our circumstances in stride as we walk along our spiritual path and provide a meaningful context to the shifting nature of life.

spirit-of-self-200The Spirit of the Self

I currently believe that spirituality is more specifically about discovering the nature of the self. I don’t find it accidental at all that psychology keeps moving closer toward near spiritual levels of investigation of the self. The practice of peeling away our apparent actions to discover what’s underneath explains a lot about who we are. However, a great deal of spiritual belief explains the self by defining all of life and humanity’s place within it. While some may see this as adding a veil, the hope is that such beliefs actually pull the veil off and reveal what’s underneath. We may or may not truly know the meaning of all of life, but as long as we’re willing to keep exploring, I think we may¬†get really close and achieve a sense of serenity that goes beyond all need.