- Religion and Philosophy
Spirituality and Pervasiveness of Pseudo-Spirituality in Society
Philosophers, religionists and spiritualists all have given different definitions of spirituality and, that is why, there is no single, widely accepted definition.
Spirituality can be defined as an inspiring quality of a religion, which may be an organized one or not. It may also simply imply to relate to individual consciousness. It may or may not involve God or an Almighty Power. For many, it may mean merely listening to the voice of individual conscience. Spirituality extends beyond an expression of religion or practice of religion.
Spirituality requires a person to look within to seek the inner realm, which is timeless, eternal and deeply profound. The external world is ephemeral, temporary and ever changing. Our body will die one day and the worldly accoutrements that we acquired in life will become worthless.
It has to be practiced while living amongst people because only by interacting with others, we can assess the extent to which we have successfully acquired positive changes in us. This is what is called inner growth.
Essentials of spirituality – The following are essentials of spirituality, which we have to incorporate in life:
- It is having a meaningful philosophy to our life.
- It is development of a higher self or soul.
- One has to make consistent efforts to evolve spiritually so as to enlarge one’s consciousness.
- Spirituality requires to develop sound values to support and guide different relationships.
- It is development of a deep commitment to a central value system or a higher power, no matter how one perceives it.
- It is development of the trait of reconciliation and forgiveness while living in a community.
- One has to connect with nature often it as it reminds us of a Super Intelligence.
- One should actively interact with others respecting their spiritual values as others may not have the same ones.
- Spirituality is a dimension of human consciousness without boundaries, encompassing all humanity.
- It is a pursuit for a spiritual dimension that not only inspires but also creates harmony with the universe.
The above elements help us develop spiritual intelligence, which determines our success in different domains of life. All don’t have the same spiritual quotient, which depends on how positively we see and interpret the world around us and interact with others in conformity with our conscience. It varies from person to person and from situation to situation.
Religion vs. Spirituality -
Though spirituality is an intrinsic ingredient of a religion, it is considered by many to be something different from it. And, many a time, the terms are used interchangeably. This is because of the lack of clarity in their definitions.
Religion is all about loyalty to religious traditions or institutions, whereas spirituality is all about loyalty to our conscience. Religion is about belonging to a community, shared values, shared rituals and mutual support. Spirituality is about living life that is forever surrendered to reality and meeting each moment with curiosity, wonder, gratitude, justice, humility and love.
The word spiritual has come to be associated with a private realm of thought and experience. Conversely, the word religious has come to be associated with the public realm of membership of religious institutions, participation in formal rituals and adherence to denominational doctrines.
Sri Aurobindo explains precisely as follows:
Spirituality feels that all faiths are valid - like the analogy of many paths leading to the same goal. Spirituality embraces all the world religions but, at the same time, is not constrained by any religious dogmas or forms.
The practice of spirituality can bring about an evolution in the consciousness of an individual that is ultimately reflected in one’s behavior, demeanor and various interactive transactions. The individual not only experiences positive changes in oneself but also in people he or she interacts with. Its collective practice by members of the society leads to its welfare.
On the contrary, when we are egoistically motivated in the practice of spirituality, it will fail to make evolutionary changes in our consciousness, thereby defeating the purpose of its practice. Trying to establish the superiority of one’s philosophical ideology over those of others is a sign of intolerance towards them, which is always egoistically motivated. Having a value system that fails to tolerate other’s value systems is also a sign of intolerance, which can result in social disharmony. This is so-called pseudo-spirituality.
These days, we often share with each other memes on social media that include quotes, verbal expressions and videos with philosophical contents amongst many others. This has become a worldwide social phenomenon and is highly infectious because it travels quickly from person to person through social media.
We were also doing the same in different ways before the social media was so active. Thus, by doing so we have drawn boundaries of our philosophical and spiritual ideology. It is significant to know that we may be inadvertently hurting other’s feelings relating to spirituality and religion through the dissemination of such memes. We should use discretion to avoid sending those memes with controversial and hurtful contents. Besides this negative aspect, there is a positive aspect too, which keeps us reminding often, albeit for a short time, about basic spiritual concepts for general welfare of society.
Unless we are sincere about inculcation of these spiritual concepts in our life, we cannot expand our consciousness, thus defeating the purpose of the practice of spirituality. As long as we don’t give up ego-centricity, we cannot grow spiritually because egoism and spiritualism are great enemies of each other.
Final Thoughts –
Unless the spiritual concepts inspire us to institute positive evolutional changes in our psyche, we cannot transform the society we live in. The prevalent trend of sharing of memes with spiritual contents with friends and others will remain a futile social activity unless we try to instill their essence in life. Thus, they will only encourage pseudo-spiritualism, which has pervaded the cultural fabric of our society. A religious, denominational or non-denominational ideology that fails to encourage its proponents to engage in general welfare of people, including those having different ideologies, only promotes pseudo-spirituality.
Loving and respecting all religions doesn’t mean that a person has to agree with all their doctrines.
In fact, an individual doesn’t even have to believe and agree with every element and doctrine of his or her own religion!