What Does it Mean to be Spiritual?

How many times have you heard someone say “I am spiritual but not religious?” What is this spiritual but not religious identity that we have created? Can we truly say we have created something new under the sun that has not already existed or been in existence since the beginning of time?

I hate to break it to you but do you realize that if you were truly living an embodied spiritual life you would embrace EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN – including religion. Let that sink in for a moment. Let it also sink in how the statement ‘I am spiritual but not religious (SBNR) – yes it even has its own recognized abbreviation – more often than not is a judgment creating separation by differentiating between the ‘I’ and ‘other’. I cannot think of anything more ‘un-spiritual’ than judgment and a blaming mentality.

Come to think of it, isn’t it interesting how we always feel the need to define ourselves, label who we are and what we do, we need titles and categories, castes and criteria in order to feel valuable, worthy, important. The ladder, however, is a neutral object; we are the ones who give it meaning by always climbing up. What happens then?

Nobody ever talks much about how we need to climb down too. And there is always a need to make the descent, the very nature of the duality of the world we live in means we cannot stay in one position permanently. Without flux, change and movement we slowly stagnate and die.

The ego functions solely on the premise that the ‘I’ is the solid, permanent, and only true part of our identity. While we do need the ego and a view of the ‘self’ to function in the world, this is only part of our identity and personality construct, but not fully who we really are.

Without our ego we would be rendered helpless, psychotic, or both; and like a raging river with no river bank to contain it we would plunder through a very difficult life. So, what do we do to contain it and tame it, instead of letting it control our lives often to our detriment?

The construct of a solid ‘self’ – an ‘I’ – was never meant to be used for the purpose of self-importance. Though we tend to use the word endlessly in trying to find fulfillment, purpose, and meaning in our lives. On the positive side of the spectrum, we have self-care, self-esteem, self-worth, self-actualization, self-growth on the negative side we find self-importance, self-absorption, self-destruction, and perhaps the most glaring in our society – selfishness!

By believing ourselves to be the be-all and end-all of life with no consideration for an ‘other’ certainly puts us at an ironic disadvantage as few truly see. It shocks me to see so many who have jumped onto the ‘New Age’ ‘Spiritual’ ‘New World’ path as leaders who feel a right to charge thousands of dollars for so-called ‘secret’ or the ‘right’ information and without paying these ridiculous amounts you stand no chance of a decent shot at life!!! Did I mention this literally blows my mind?!

Yes, by all means, there should be a fee, an energy exchange, an acknowledgment. By no means should only a certain amount of the population – who usually fall into the upper end of the wealth bracket – be the only ones entitled and exposed to this information. What about the homeless, the abused living in care shelters, the poverty-stricken just earning the minimum wage, the abandoned and downtrodden who do not have Facebook at their fingertips to see all the fancy life-changing advertising schemes and events to attend?

Coming back to the question then of what does make a person spiritual? Do we always have to announce it and wear it like a fake fur coat? Take note, that our announcements are usually playing into the fake persona of illusion we all fall prey to in this world. We are conditioned this way from the moment we arrive on the planet, how could we know there is another way unless we are born into a family of enlightened beings.

Isn’t ‘being spiritual’ something more intangible, unnamed & woven into the fabric of each and every one of us, across race, culture, and location. It would be as futile to advertise it as it would be to advertise that we have skin covering our flesh and bones. It is there whether we like it or not, acknowledge it or not, our spiritual self, just as our skin is part and parcel of being human.

So, if we had to try and define what being spiritual really is it could just be that unseen yet known place of power that throbs through each heartbeat of our lives. It is the unfaltering sense that acts from a loving, kind, wise, compassionate place – always.

It includes EVERY emotion whether from the shadows of anger, violence, and fear to the rainbows of joy, harmony, and bliss. It includes the broken, abandoned dirty vagabond, the murderer behind bars, and the creepy postman. Yes, being spiritual includes all cultures, races, castes, beliefs, and religions. Take a breath.

Just as we want to be completely, fully, and wholly accepted, so too does every single person on this earth. I am not condoning any violent abusive behavior, but if we are to walk our talk and claim to be spiritual, we better damn make sure know what this actually means.

According to studies and a very well-respected philosopher, sage, and leader in Vedanta instruction, there are 2 yardsticks to measure where you fall on the spectrum of spirituality. Firstly, while you would still be concerned with taking care of the needs of your own family and circle of influence, you would be broadening your thoughts and actions towards helping anybody who crosses your path, the whole family of earth. You would not need to have big social platforms or sign up to be political leaders etc…

It is your thoughts and inner motivations that count here. Just smile at a stranger, chat to the bus driver asking how his day is.

And secondly, your desires and attachment for things of this world diminish. While there is no problem with wanting material things, when you start to ‘climb’ the spiritual ladder your need for these toys of our world lessens, and while nice to have there is no attachment to possessions. They are just objects, nothing more nothing less, and do not define you or give you value as a human being.

It’s really a simple message. Remove your ‘self’ from the equation a little.

Ask why you do the things you do and why you want the things you want? Examine where you are directing your thoughts in a given day, are they all about you or only your family, your friends, your wants or can they expand to include others too?

This is what ‘being spiritual’ is all about. No titles, no labels, no judgements. Are you being spiritual or are you a spiritual being?

All it takes is just an inclusive attitude and an open heart and no more ladders, just endless vistas of limitless love.


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