Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Define 'spirituality'

Lent 2016: Day 15

My brother sent me this challenging e-mail:
Are you able to clarify your use of the word 'spirituality'? For me it has been for a long time been a bit of a slippery suspect word. A definition may provide some resolution.
And then this quote:
"Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

So then! "Of, or pertaining to the spirit or the soul". Straight away we get into the notion of the question of what is the soul, or spirit. To me, 'mind' and 'spirit' are one and the same. Consciousness, awareness, thoughts as they pass through the hardware of the mind, feelings, ideas, moods. Not being a dualist, I do not hold that the soul is something separate from the body existing in the realms of the immaterial that has no connection with the physical universe. Rather, the mind and body are as one, holism, monism.

Let's now look here:

'Spirituality' is that part of our human existence that dwells on the metaphysical, that which is beyond the visible, tangible, reducible. It is essentially built upon moments of higher states of awareness, those moments when one reaches, however briefly, an enlightenment, enhanced understanding. I believe we have an obligation towards the purpose of spiritual evolution not to let those moments passed without giving them some thought.

The matter of whether consciousness is more than just the flow of electrons and chemicals around our brain is, I would posit, a spiritual quest, and indeed, the journey from Zero to One.

I may be falling for the God of the Gaps - until the moment science discovers the seat of human consciousness, it is everywhere and nowhere. But I feel (instinctively) that there's no one seat. Rather, it is distributed. Maybe even outside the cranium (reports of organ transplant recipients noting anomalous dreams, memories and preferences). This is all part of the journey in the direction of understanding, a direction of continual improvement.

Back to belief. I do hold that the higher truth, higher than has so far been determined by Mankind, lies between what is traditionally known as 'religion' (a search for meaning on the basis of sacred texts passed onto humanity by the Supreme Being), and 'science' (a search for meaning on the basis of theses verified through the observation of repeatable experiments).

The more I read about the way thought, perception, feeling, awareness - the whole mental process works, the less I believe that it can all be boiled down to electrons passing from synapse to synapse.

But it's more than about just this. Ultimately, it is about purpose; it's not just the 'how', but the 'why' that intrigues me.

This time last year:
Consciousness, the Soul, Eternity

This time two years ago:
On Governance, Institutions and Civilisation

This time five years ago:
My Nikon D80 four years on

This time seven years ago:
Nikon D80 two years on

This time eight years ago:
Nikon D80 one year on
Nine years ago today I bought my first digital camera!

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