Humans mechanically separate spirituality into different components as if can be achieved instead of approaching spirituality as a part of our whole being. We view it like a machine or a computer program. We separate out the physical and the emotional from what we perceive as the spiritual. We then plug in formulas and rituals which delete essential components in the same way we write computer programs or an owner’s manual that tell us to operate a systems, but lose the essence of how the system is constructed and the philosophy of its creation. In the same way Manichaeism and Catharism, along with the writings of St. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila are a few Christian examples of this separation of the spiritual from the physical and emotional. This is also seen among the many meditative religious orders within Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and many more. In each of these, while the physical and emotional are considered immoral or evil, the highest good is in the spiritual and spiritual detachment from this world.
Instead of separating the physical and emotional from the non-physical, all need to be seen as aspects of the same and understood as such. Natural beauty cannot be separated from nature or the feelings inspired. Physical beauty cannot be separated from its source or our reaction to it. An artist cannot be separated from an inspiration and the emotions necessary to make the inspiration visible to other people. In the same way the “spiritual” cannot be separated from the physical and emotional, two other aspects of a complete reality.
The mechanistic chanting or continual repeated actions attempts to separate the three aspects, physical, emotional and “spiritual” into mathematical formulas not leaving them as a coherent whole. Instead of trying to be “spiritual” we need to simply be. It is said the best way to learn to run fast is to run fast. To create, creating is necessary and not separate from the whole process of creativeness. Try asking runners what makes them fast or artists what makes them creative. The answer is simple, they are what they are. The same is true with spirituality, live wholly and simply. spirituality will be a part of it.
They are only integral aspects of the same that we wrongly try to separate. None of this can be taught. All of it can be developed, but only to the limits of each individual’s inherent capacity. No two people will develop in the same way or to the same degree. The best thing an individual can do is to stop imitating someone else, seek their own way and be what they are designed to be.
Spirituality is simply living with eyes open to the world around us and living in that reality.
Richard Gardner lives in Upper Bern Twp. His passions are ecology and history because with these we are able to understand our world, our place in it and our future.