In the beginning of June, we organized the first Art of Living basic course in Nicosia, Cyprus. It was a small group of people who attended the 4 days course. When I first started talking to people about the course, as is always the case, there were questions about the course. Does it have anything to do with religion, is it a cult, what are they propagating and many more. All those who have done the Art of Living course know that there is nothing religious, cult like or any propaganda in the course. It is a scientifically proven breathing technique which is being practiced by over 50 million people across the world.
I spoke to a lot of people I knew and while some showed curiosity, others were apprehensive about attending. One of the persons I spoke to actually said something which is what got me thinking and to write this article. As we got closer to the date of the course, I was following up with the people I had contacted to see if they would like to attend the course. During this time, one of the persons said that he didn’t think this was the right time for him and that “these things” were not for him. I was a bit confused in the beginning . So I asked him what he meant by “these things”. To which he answered. “I’m not spiritual”. This answer completely surprised me because in my view all of us are spiritual.
What is Spirituality?
The meaning of Spirituality has been polluted over the years and spirituality and religion are often used interchangeably. Towards the early 2000, there was a movement which made an attempt to separate spirituality from religion. Spiritual but not religious” (SBNR) became a popular phrase used to self-identify a life stance of spirituality that takes issue with organized religion as the sole or most valuable means of furthering spiritual growth. I don’t really see the 2 as being very different. The word “Spirit” is defined as the non-physical part of a person which is the seat of emotions and character; or the soul if that’s what you want to call it.
Religion is walking on the path of God. Spirituality is walking on the path with God
All of us will agree that there are things beyond the physical body which make us up. Spirituality is nothing but learning to become more aware of this dimension of our lives and taking an active role in improving it. In other words trying to understand the ‘being” in the human being. Religion is nothing but a set of beliefs and philosophies which have been laid down by some very well intending people based on their level of awareness of their spirit. In other words when we say we are religious, we confine ourselves to a certain way of living and beliefs, while when we say we are spiritual, we are essentially saying I’m seeking and exploring.
You may like to Read :Demystifying Spirituality
Do I have to become a Monk to be spiritual?
Another commonly held belief is that you are either spiritual or materialistic. One of the most common fears of families where there are people who chose the path of spirituality is that it distances you from your family (one of the material aspect of our lives). While this is not entirely false, it definitely does not mean that anyone and everyone who starts seeking and exploring will end up as a monk or a hermit. It’s true that there are many who have given up their pursuit of material things in life and decided to lead an austere life. However there are equally enough examples of people who are extremely successful in the material world but are also very advanced in their spiritual awareness. Oprah Winfrey, Richard Gere, Tom Cruise, Wayne Dyer to name a few.
You don’t have to be spiritual to be successful but if you are spiritual you will definitely be successful in any endeavor you decide to undertake, even if it is materialistic in nature. The simple truth is that spiritualism and materialism are two sides of the same coin. There is no one who is 100 % spiritual or materialistic. If you exist on planet earth, then you need material for your survival. Your needs may vary depending on whether you are a monk or a businessman. Similarly all of us know by now that we have a dimension to us which is beyond the body. You can call this spirit, soul, energy, god or whatever.
So are you Spiritual?
I believe that we are all spiritual. The natural transition of age imparts wisdom to people through what we call experiences. In other words, all of us are on a spiritual journey. But most never recognize it. The ones who realize and accept it become aware and thereby fasten the process. For most people the wisdom about life’s realities comes with age and this is why as we age we understand the things that really matter in life. When you start your journey on the path of spirituality, all you are essentially trying to do is to speed up the process by becoming more aware and conscious about you as a being.
We are all experiencing spiritual growth. Each one of us is on a natural spiritual process. With age all (maybe not all :-)) get wiser. Spirituality is only helping make it faster.