What is spirituality? – Meaning and definitions
Need of spirituality – Psychological, behavioral
Importance of spirituality – Personal, family, social and global
What is spirituality?
Spirituality is a broad term, not easy to define. On the basis of individual’s thinking, mental state and level of consciousness, it can have different meanings. Hindi word adhyatam is made up of words adhi and atman, which means turning towards the atman and its study. Geeta says Swabhavo adhyatam uchyte. It defines adhyatam (spirituality) as swabhav (self-perception). Now this perception of swa or self depends on the individual’s level of the consciousness, which culminates as Atman (higher or true self). The word SPIRIT in spirituality also means the sacred and immortal aspect of a person. Encyclopedia of religion and ethics defines spirituality as the deepest center of the person and experience of the ultimate reality.
In this way spirituality can be termed as the experience and the study of one’s self or existence, which covers the whole personality or life of a person. However psychology also studies personality but it is limited to the human behavior and its conscious and unconscious aspects. YugRishi Pt. Shree Ram Sharma Acharya calls Spirituality as higher psychology, which covers conscious, unconscious and super conscious aspects of personality. In his words, behavior and intellect are the conscious dimensions. Habits are its unconscious aspects. While refined human excellence, idealism and divinity are the super conscious aspects. According to AcharyaSri from behavior point of view spirituality means faith on God, nobility and the culmination or peak of idealism.
In the words of Swami Vivekananda, the greatest feature of human life is that it is Atman or Self in its true form. In fact, Swami Vivekananda explains spirituality as the essence of religion, saying that Religion as a science, as a study is the grandest and the healthiest exercise that the human mind can have. This pursuit of the Infinite, this struggle to grasp the Infinite, this effort to get beyond the limitations of the sense – out of matter, as it were –and to evolve the spiritual man – this striving day and night to make the Infinite one with our being – this struggle itself is the grandest and most glorious that man can make…It is the greatest motive power that moves the human mind. No other ideal can put us the same mass of energy as the spiritual.
In the words of Swamiji spirituality is something sacred which makes a person explore and get in touch with his deepest aspect and get in tune with the Ultimate reality. It is the search after the highest ideal. Spirituality is the manifestation of the Divinity already in man. Religion is not in doctrines, in dogmas, nor in intellectual arguments; it is being and becoming, it is realization. Spirituality is the realization of spirit as spirit.
It is in line with his master Sri Ramakrishna, who used to say, “Having come to this world, the first duty is to realize God and everything else will follow afterwards.” True religion to Swamiji is the one with practical results. The basic aim of religion is to bring peace to man. It is not wise thing for one to suffer in this life so that one can be happy in the next. One must be happy here and now. In the words of Sri Aurobindo - Man tries to get his highest, grandest and absolute power and the moment he gets even a little contact with it, that power within seems getting united with the grand, auspicious and beautiful Universal power. We name this soul or existence by the name of God.
In this way it is difficult to limit spirituality into one definition. It can be defined and propounded in as many diverse forms as diverse this life is. If we want to think in terms of values, then spirituality is the science and method of the refinement of consciousness. Any method that makes the human personality dignified, purifies its thinking, character and behavior, develops virtues like restraint, tolerance, generosity, service etc.; it is spirituality.
In the language of a mystic, the path and destination of the traveler in search of his true Self leads to spirituality. When the goal is to understand the source of your consciousness, then the journey to your center is spirituality. In the spirit of adventure, it is the ascension of the peak of our consciousness. Spirituality is the process of knowing oneself in essence. In the words of life experts, spirituality is the master-key of life puzzle. Not surprisingly, all thinkers-philosophers-mystics, whether they lived in the East or in the West, said the same thing regarding the essence of life - Atmanm Vid, Know Thy Self; that is, first know yourself. And knowing oneself is the basis of all wisdom.
In this way spirituality includes a sense of connection to something bigger and higher than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all…Spirituality is search for deeper meaning in life. When we're spiritually healthy, we feel more connected to not only a higher power, but to those around us. We have more clarity when it comes to making everyday choices and our actions become more consistent with our beliefs and values.
In this way, spirituality is the path of self-exploration, an inner journey. Spirituality is the name of the faith that considers the center of life inside oneself and tries to find solutions to every problem of life at the center of one’s existence.
Need of spirituality –
According to the psychologist Abraham Maslow, spirituality is a higher need or Meta need of a person. When a person's biological, psychological, family and social needs are met, then his spiritual need begins. That is, despite worldly pleasures and achievements, there remains emptiness, a void, a feeling of incompleteness and misery; spirituality fills this gap and gives it a fulfilling touch. And this is inevitable, after all truth, knowledge and bliss is the real nature of an individual’s higher Self.
If we talk about worldly achievements and excellence of a person, it becomes clear that spirituality is the basis of true success, happiness and everlasting glory. If we have great success in our field, with our inner peace, stability and balance intact, then we can assume that we are living in our spirituality. Otherwise, as soon as these supports are removed, life becomes monotonous, boring and miserable. This is a bitter truth of a person’s life, when he retires from the position of power. Obviously, in the absence of spirituality, all the successes and achievements of life remain incomplete.
So the importance of spirituality becomes clear and its new meaning unfolds. Spirituality is thus an intrinsic element, inner wealth, which provides a person with the basis of happiness, peace, power, joy from within. Despite the withdrawal, exclusion or breakdown of external support a person’s inner strength and balance remains intact and despite all the outer limitations and odds of life, a person is capable of living with contentment and joy. In this way spirituality is the basis and source of endless creativeness, in which every situation and challenges of life are filled with possibilities of creativity and positive living.
Spirituality is our true nature, the state of unconditional or causeless bliss. It is the state of peace, stability, concentration and bliss. In such a state we are living in our spiritual self. The science and the method to achieve and maintain this state consciously is spirituality. In Indian spiritual tradition our forefather ages discovered many yogic paths for this purpose, like – Karma yoga, gyan yoga, bhakti yoga, raj yoga, mantra yoga, tantra yoga, hatha yoga, naad yoga etc.
Importance of spirituality –
Holistic understanding of life - The more we start to know ourselves, the more our understanding of human nature increases. With the overall understanding of personality, it is possible to deal with the complexities of life more intensively and effectively.Beyond the body and mind complex, there evolves an understanding of the eternal power of the personality in the form of the Atman or divine self. Beyond the conscious and unconscious aspects of life, the realization of super conscious nature dawns.
Man the maker of his own destiny - Spirituality gives a holistic understanding of life. Introduces a person with the subtle complexities of existence, teaches the skill to manage them and gives us the confidence of minimum control and governance with the sense of being the creator of our own destiny. Spirituality gives the strength to cope up the stresses and depressions of life and overcome them.
The power and insight to overcome duality and conflicts - spirituality gives a sense of certainty amid the uncertainty of life. Gives the understanding and power of equanimity amid the dilemmas of life and ability to surpass them. Spirituality gives us the eternal hope amidst deep despair.
Give self-knowledge and connects with cosmic reality - Starting from the process of knowing oneself, spirituality connects the person to the inner self and with awakened conscience and sensitive heart, the person connects with the family, society and the world at large and lives as a sensible component of cosmic existence.
The more a person gets to know oneself, the deeper he descends inside, the more he gets connected to the cosmic reality.
The Basis of Credibility and Authenticity - Spirituality awakens the discrimination power (viveka). As such self-induced morality and self-discipline becomes possible and a person connects to the source of life values. Spirituality progressively prevents personality disintegration, leading to personal integration. Virtues develop in a person, character is formed and credibility and authenticity are born in the personality.
Lead to the peak possibilities of personality - Spirituality realizes the peak possibilities of a personality with the awakening and development of inherent divine virtues and latent powers.
Spirituality induces mental stability and power of concentration which enhances the creativity and human excellence. Inherent potential and powers of the person are activated and gradually leads to the peak growth of human potential. Today, the great men or women, great human beings and gods we see and worship as ideal are the result of this development in some form or the other.
Other importance –
· Spirituality gives a meaning to life and a sense of fulfillment.
· With holistic life view spirituality gives deeper understanding of human nature, which adds to the behavioral skills of a person.
· Deeper life insight clarifies the swa-dharma or the unique life goal of a person and makes him a duty bound person.
· There emerges a positive and hopeful attitude towards life.
· Spirituality sows the seeds of sanskaras in family and it becomes a fertile ground for the growth of value loaded human beings.
· In society there is transmission of positive and health vibes with spirituality. In the present era of thought pollution, its importance can be well understood.
Basis of global peace
and harmony. In the era of cultural clashes between different nations and
religions; spirituality can play its role as a means of interfaith dialogue and
THINK & PONDER!!
At the end of this article, you can reflect deep in the mode of self-introspection –
· What do you mean by spirituality?
· How important do you feel is spirituality for you?
· When do you feel the need of spirituality?
· How much time do you spare for your inner development?
· What is your minimum schedule for spiritual growth?
· What will happen, if there is no spirituality?