Dear word many interpretations..,
It can be very difficult to come up with a clear definition of what spirituality is. The word has many meanings and there is countless different approaches to it. To many people spirituality has to do with medium-ship, psychic gift, healing and clairvoyance, and to others deep study of previous lifetimes, karma, dharma etc. Aspects of life that definitely can be very interesting to dig into.
To me spirituality has everything to do with two very fundamental things that are actually the same; Spirit and God. The two things that I will call the essence of everything, two things that I often find either neglected or misunderstood in most spiritual or new age teachings and directions. Here lies my focus.
In Danish the word for spirituality (åndelig) means: “like spirit”, or “that which is like spirit”. I find this to be very fitting. That spirituality basically is about likeness to spirit. That it is the journey toward remembering who we really are. Remembering our unchangeable, unhurtable, completely loving essence, that we always have been and always will be and that way becoming like Spirit.
Spirit: Our essence
So, Spirit is our essence, our true Self. But what do I mean about Spirit? Is it like a ghost floating around? No, but the word Spirit can obviously easily be confused with spirits.
Spirit is the core of our being that can never be taken from us, never become less (or more), but is perfect, unlimited love. It is the feeling of spirit we all long for when we long for love, for the perfect partner or harmony and balance. Spirit is wholeness, absence from needs, desires, aspirations, because all we are, is filled up with the joy of perfect love. Spirit cannot be lost, at most forgotten. And it has been forgotten by most people on this earth at this point. But again, forgotten does not mean lost, and the light will shine ever so beautifully and clear as soon as it is remembered.
To many people spirituality rhymes with self development. Self development in the meaning that we need to develop to become more. To become more just, more psychic, get control over the astral body, to learn and experience so that the soul will grow, etc. …
My understanding is a bit different though. It is of course very okay to want to grow if one finds that appealing, but if we in our core and true being already are perfect and unlimited, then why would it be necessary to become more? Wouldn’t it be enough to be oneself? I believe it would be. Unfortunately the case for most of us here on earth is, that we at the moment (not are) are not ourselves, and do not identify ourselves with who we really are. Most people do not walk around on the street knowing that they are actually an abstract, formless being that has nothing to do with this experienced reality. That we are really just pure, undivided love and joy. And those who do, most often do not feel it emotionally, or at least not completely.
So most people are in a state of forgetfulness about our true being, and the cure to forgetfulness is obviously remembrance. Our Spirit is whole, so to become Spirit is to become whole. It is not necessary to work hard and suffer so that your soul can become experienced, large and old. It is necessary to let go of what blocks your remembrance of what you really are and always have been, a love that has no age and transcends time and space. The part of us that can grow and get older is not the true us, so unless we find it meaningful and joyous it is not necessary.
You have probably heard the sentence: “We are all one”. However, everywhere you look is separation. We are separate as bodies, in interests in ideals, in language and so on. Many may then argue that we are one because we are all connected like cells in this big body called earth, or that we are all one because we are all energy and we all share energy. This is not how I see it though. In most ways I have heard people talk about Oneness, it is actually based on an idea of separation, and is more about connectedness than oneness. In Oneness there can only be one. No separate bodies, no separate minds, no separate ideas, beliefs or intentions. Clearly that is not the case neither here on earth nor on the astral or even higher dimensions. In all of them there is an aspect of separate identity. Therefore oneness must be a part of us that completely transcends the universe of separation. This oneness is spirit, and spirit is in no way related to the world we perceive, neither as body nor as souls.
The dream of duality
The easiest way to explain the relationship between the world we perceive and our true reality as Spirit as one, is to compare it to a dream. You have probably heard the saying, “life is but a dream”, and I find that to be true to more people than only those with a lot of success. C.G. Jung and S. Freud, made it very clear in their research on dreams, that all the figures in our dreams are actually ourselves. Everything is our dream is played out in our mind as we sleep, and both the hero, the villain, and what else may show up is a part of us. When you are dreaming you may think that what you perceive in the dream is reality, and you may identify a lot with the person in the dream you experience the dream trough. Nevertheless, as you probably have experienced, a lot of bad or strange things can happen to your dream-self, but when you wake up in the morning you are completely okay, which means it is not you in reality. Therefore the you in your dream, is not more real/you than the other figures in the dream, even though you perceive it through him or her. Every figure in the dream is as much, or less the real you as anyone else. And when you wake up you realize that all figures were just dreamt by the same one mind.
This One mind that is dreaming all the figures of the dream we now perceive is Spirit. We are all the one dreamer, that fell asleep and now sees billions and billions of separate entities in this vast and complex universe. This means that we literally are One in reality, but we are now dreaming a dream of separation. It also means that everyone in this world is as much you as the personality you consider to be you. The you with a name is just the point of view from which you experience the dream and therefore what you identify with and build stories around. In the dream we are clearly connected in many ways, but it is in our essence that we are one. And since dreams are only dreams and never truly real, we can say that oneness and spirit is reality. This is also what can be considered the meaning of non-dualism. We experience a world of duality and change, but it is absolutely not real in any way. Not even the soul. Only Spirit with God is real, the rest is merely dreaming.
But why? What keeps us here?
Why did we fall in to this dream of separation in the first place? And if Spirit is changeless how could this change happen? Why are we not feeling the pure joy, love and peace of you true being? Is there any reason it can be so difficult to look within and that there can be so much resistance in our search for remembrance? Many good questions follows this way of understanding.
In the book “A course in miracles”, it is described intensely how the universe we perceive actually is a symptom of a choice in our mind. The world arose as a result of the belief that we separated from our source, our father, God, who is in the oneness of spirit. We lived peacefully as one with Him as Spirit, and then took the disastrous decision to separate from him to experience individuality. In “A course in miracles”, this idea to separate is the root of the Ego, and all the world of duality is an effect of this decision. The ego then tells us that we are guilty because of this decision and we deserve to be punished. It tells us that our Father, whose peace, wholeness and changelessness we, from the perspective of the ego, destroyed with our selfish decision, is now after us, angry as hell trying to get us. This is a story that is played out in our subconscious minds all the time without us even being aware of it.
It is obvious that one will not go home to a Father that he/she have deceived and who madly wants to punish us. The ego told us like Scar told Simba in “The lion king” to run away from our tremendous guilt, and we then ran to hide far away in a place called the universe. We of (cause) course want to hide as far away from God as possible, and what is further away from Oneness, changelessness, limitlessness, and perfect love, than separation, duality, constant change, lack of love and this little fragile body.
Luckily, this was never real but from the beginning only dream. The fact that we had done anything terrible was as false as what Scar told Simba. In “fact”, we were, and have always been, in perfect Oneness with God in Spirit. But every second, every day we in our mind subconsciously choose to believe the story our ego tells us. That is what creates the world and this often unpleasant experience as a separate being, and what makes it so difficult to just be free, joyful, loving, and great. Because guilt always seeks punishment we even subconsciously tend to attract suffering, so we can pay for what we believe we did. So, the unconscious guilt caused by the belief that we separated from our source, is basically the reason for the world, all our troubles and all our suffering.
God did not create the world, we did it. But of course only in a dream. God sees our spirit, not our illusion. At most he sees his child sleeping, but never that the child left. This is an important insight, because when we realize the terrible things we have decided to subconsciously believe about ourselves and everybody else we can finally choose again. Choose to believe that we are still completely innocent, one with God in total peace, and that the separation never occurred. By changing our mind we will change the world and our life, because the world and suffering is a symptom, and we are healing its cause.
Awakening through forgiveness
There is of course nothing wrong with neither experiencing nor enjoying this psychical universe this is even though it is based on an unpleasant mistake, just like there is nothing wrong with enjoying yourself completely while lucid dreaming. The thing is to know it is a dream, that you are something much bigger, whole, and innocent in reality. And as we start to realize how tremendous it feels to be our real Self, we start to get very motivated to wake up. We realize that even the most wonderful and explicit experiences here on earth are merely weak echoes of the true joy of Spirit.
In relation to that: true awakening is not about waking up in the dream, but about waking up from the dream. Many spiritual people talk about awakening as becoming more aware in the dream, or becoming aware of your soul and its qualities. This can definitely be enriching and make the life more colorful, but it will not make you wake up to the joining of the Godfather of joy and the experience of being who you really are. It will not remove all block to love’s presence, and to your actual limitlessness.
A “Course in miracles writes:” “A sense of separation from God is the only lack you really need correct. (T-1: VI. 2:1).
Awakening is waking up from the dream, and the dream started with the belief that we separated from source. Therefore as “A course in miracles” states the way to wake up must be to correct the false belief “that we are seperated from God”. By correcting this in our minds, we will let go of all the guilt it causes and the fear that so insistently fights to keep us away from Source, peace, joy and love. As stated earlier this correction is a choice in our mind. We must stop believing in the ego’s story and start listening to the part of your mind that never forgot the truth. You can call this part of the mind the Higher Self. I prefer to call it the Holy Spirit, since this is less personal and individualized. This is the part of our mind that knows we never separated, knows that we are still with God in spirit, knows we are all one, and knows it is all a dream. Healing our mind is choosing to believe the Holy Spirit’s version of the story in every situation, about every person or being. By seeing everything with the eyes of the Holy Spirit, we will heal our mind and return to Source, because we have removed the cause for us experiencing not being with Him.
The process of changing our choice of belief is what I call true forgiveness. True forgiveness is not to forgive another person for something he/she has done, but to remember that the person who is doing it, is just a figure in a dream, and in reality pure, innocent Spirit. By seeing it in others you will begin to see it in yourself, since what you see without you is just an outside picture of what is going on inside your subconscious mind. So by forgiving people/changing your mind, you will heal yourself and slowly but steadily awaken from the dream.
So back to the question, what is spirituality? Well, to sum up. To me spirituality is the focus on our true Self, Spirit, which is one with God and like Him. It is removing the blocks we have made that keep us separated, keep us in forgetfulness. It is the will to change our mind in the search for truth, peace and joy. It is the process of awakening from the dream by letting go of the belief in the ego, and by doing so being able to be like spirit even in the dream.
The gift of spirituality is happiness, joy and peace, which is our true nature and therefore inevitably will flow through us as we let go of our belief in the separation and all that follows from that. I think that it is a common belief that the ego is very strong and that it is very difficult to wake up. But consider this. The truth is always there, always present, always you. It does not have to fight to be present or be realized. The ego on the other hand has to fight constantly, because it is not true and has to pull a massive scheme constantly to keep the mind away from the reality. It is a tough and exhausting job. And as we go along and forgive, it is like an eight armed octopus that just keeps getting more strings to hold on to. In the end it will collapse and the joyous truth will again prevail. And that’s not so bad I think! Hurrah for spirituality