Over the years I’ve explored a vast number of “Spiritual” practices and activities in the pursuit of truth. But the truth is that a lot of them were not spiritual and I did not benefit from them. Some of them even held me back on my journey. After about 40 years I’m at the point where I can truly reflect on “What is Spiritual” and “What is not spiritual“.
These are questions that I get asked a lot and in a recent online meetup the question came again “What is spirituality?” and there were many ideas put forward by the participants, and though positive and worthwhile, a lot of them were not actually spiritual, though they were spiritually supportive. This prompted me to record the short podcast which you’ll find below.
I’ve added the transcript of the podcast too so that you can read it at your leisure. What I would recommend though is that you listen to the podcast first, giving it your full attention. This is because there is a potentially powerful exercise towards the end. – Enjoy!
Have you ever wondered what it means to be spiritual? With so many things being thought of as spiritual it begs the question are some things more spiritual than others? Years ago I thought that crystals, reiki, meditation, visualisations, chanting and reading books of wisdom were all spiritual, but now my understanding might surprise you. But I’m interested in your thoughts so please take a moment to reflect on those things in your life and perhaps what others do that you consider to be “Spiritual”.
Now, since being spiritual is important then would it be wise to question things to make sure our time and energy are well spent? This raises questions you may ask like:
But perhaps the most important question to ask yourself is:
And later in this podcast I’ve got a simple exercise to help you answer that last question.
I was recently participating in an online meetup and when this topic came up one of the other teachers asked me to explain to those present what “Spiritual” means. What I’d like to share with you in this podcast is the analogy which came to me in that meeting and which may give you a fresh and different perspective on “What is spiritual”.
It is important though to reflect on the fact that for each of us there is a soul journey and a spiritual journey. The soul’s journey is about making choices and learning through the resultant experiences. This is why I sometimes say “Life is school for your soul” because it is the choices we make in life that teach our soul about love, making us more loving.
Ultimately there are “good choices” and these raise your soul’s vibration or there are “not good” choices and these result in inner disharmony, dis-ease and negativity and may be recognisable as being based within ego.
It’s the same for all of us and so there’s no judgement here, at least not from me. What about you? Are you being too hard on yourself? If so, relax and be gentle, because even being judgmental of yourself is one of those choices that is going in the wrong direction. It’s also true that being judgemental of others takes you in the wrong direction so as you listen I invite you to practice being more neutral. It doesn’t mean you have to accept anything, rather that you practice non-reaction.
The world is a far more beautiful place to be when we can be in it but less touched by it. By being neutral we can actually be more awake, because rather than “Reacting” to things we can choose what to give our awareness to.
For some people the spiritual journey is perhaps thought of in terms of spiritual light meditation, and that’s something I know well having done it and taught it for many years. So it may surprise you when I say that although meditation on light is an amazing gift, it is not actually spiritual! Stay with me though because I will explain.
You see the focal point of spirituality is not light, it is in fact God.
Now I’m guessing that hearing the word “God” may have triggered a reaction from you, and that’s perfectly normal. God is one of those words, like the word “Spiritual”, which means different things to different people. For most people though “God” has a religious connotation since for most people the only reference to God they ever encounter is in religion. What about you?
However I need to make it clear, I’m not talking about religion and I’m not religious, rather I’m talking about spirituality and there is a big difference, which I’ll explain in a bit. You see whatever God is, God existed a long time before any religion, which is of course founded upon the beliefs of man.
In Truth, that which is God is limitless, boundless and eternal and therefore cannot be adequately understood or described in words. That does not mean that talking about God is a waste of time though and personally I find it liberating and refreshing to talk about God without having to subscribe to someone else’s beliefs or from within the shackles of religious doctrine.
I understand though that some people struggle to see God as anything other than religion but there are many people who do not seek religion but want God so perhaps by talking about it we can find the way.
After all since God is eternal surely God is as relevant and present today as God ever was and good people in the past just like Jesus were pointing the way to something far more awe inspiring than a simple book. What do you think? Be honest because you are free to agree, disagree or sit on the fence, all I hope is that you’re doing it from a place of neutrality and being present to what you’re experiencing right now, rather than from habitual beliefs. That’s the point.
You see spirituality is about experience, whereas religions are about belief and so it’s far better to be honest with yourself about what feels right and to base your choices and life-style upon what you know to be true from your own direct experience, than on the ideas and experiences of other people, wouldn’t you agree? This is the big difference between spirituality and religion. Religion is fundamentally “Believe this” whereas spirituality is “Experience this”. There is value in either but it depends where you are in your own personal journey and the best bit is that even if you are religious you can also be spiritual and I know many good people who are both.
As a spiritual teacher though my role, if you like, is not to give you any belief nor to turn you away from any belief, rather it is to point you in the right direction so you can experience things for yourself and move beyond simply believing what might be, replacing belief with knowledge from your own direct experience. In spirituality the “Direction” is God; pure, simple, oneness.
Any other direction takes you more into the complexity of duality and that’s why so many actions, things and practices that people think are spiritual, are not. Because unless their focus is directly upon God, then no matter how amazing the experience may be, then they are just an exploration of duality and that will always lead to more complexity and is ultimately a dead end.
So let us consider God, but please, I don’t want you to “Believe”, instead just notice what resonates with you, because this is about you exploring your own innate sense of God as something far greater. Notice what you notice now.
God has always been and God is the source of all that is good, including love and light.
God is beyond creation and is therefore beyond duality and so is an absolute oneness, the Source of all.
Now bringing things back to the soul and spirit journeys. If the soul journey is about being more good, then you could say that the spiritual journey is about becoming closer to God who is the source of all that is good. You see then that the soul journey is about embracing the qualities of God within yourself, such as being a more loving, compassionate, and kind person. The spiritual journey is about letting go of attachment to yourself to be more aware of God and if you want more on that then I’d highly recommend you listen to podcast number 33 “How to have more God in your life”.
If you’re still with me and listening then thank you and what we’re doing is sharing words which is bringing about understanding within you, whether it is challenging; reaffirming what you know; or giving you something new. Please understand though that the spiritual journey and the soul journey, which go hand in hand, are about being, not understanding. The words shared are there to inspire, to help you understand things.
Your mission, is to take that understanding and change your way of being, so that you integrate spiritual knowledge into your soul and spirit. Then you are more spiritual. Please don’t get stuck at the understanding and knowledge level, take it further and then you will really benefit more. This is really important. So many people have an understanding but it never goes further and they “Think” they are more spiritual, but they are not.
Spirituality is not about adorning yourself with ideas, its about recognising truth in words and then embracing them through direct experience so that the vibration of your soul raises and your desire for God grows.
Let me share that analogy with you now:
When you fall in love with someone they are always in your heart and you fall in love because there is something good about them that makes your life better too. You want to please them and to be more like the good things you see in them. They inspire you to be a better person. You also have a deep need to have them in your space, to hear them, see them, touch them, sense them and know that they are there.
To be spiritual is to be in love with God.
You are inspired by God’s goodness and this motivates your soul to become more like God, which means to become more good, more godly. God’s light in your spirit, acts like a beacon of God’s goodness guiding your soul in its choices. When you make a good choice it is because your spirit is guiding you, and so ultimately God is guiding you. This is the soul journey.
Just as when you love another person you yearn to have them in your life, when you love God then you yearn to have God in your life. This is the spiritual journey and is what people sometimes refer to as wanting to “be closer to God”. But God is already one thing everywhere and is already there with you. So perhaps it is wiser to say that it is “Wanting to be more aware of God”.
Spirituality is about having a personal relationship with God. Desiring to be more like God thus godly is your soul journey and desiring to be more aware of God is your spiritual journey. Both the soul journey and spiritual journey fall under the umbrella of “Spirituality”. Spirituality is not intellectual, based on knowing though, rather it’s more about being in awe. Spirituality grows when all that you are, including your spirit, soul and brain, are working together as one, with your focus upon God. If God is not in the equation then it is not spirituality.
Intention is powerful and having this knowledge can help you set your intention to be more focused upon God, but the journey itself is a spontaneous thing, because it is about being in love with God, that is not something that you turn on with a single thought, rather it is something that grows and you can nurture with every choice you make.
Some people are more soul-journey oriented and we’ve talked a lot in previous podcasts about living according to The Six Virtues. Embracing these virtues helps your soul become more aligned with the qualities of love and therefore you become more good. But this alone is not spiritual, rather it is a prerequisite for spiritual growth.
You see until a person is able to really love, through soul development, then they cannot really start the spiritual side, which is about loving God. Equally some people aspire to the spiritual journey, often pursuing meditation, but if there is no love for God then that is not really spiritual. How can anyone seek the light and yet not acknowledge God? God is the Source of spiritual light.
So ultimately to be spiritual you need both, you need to have a desire to work on yourself to embrace your life-lessons and raise your soul’s vibration through experiences born of the choices you make. And you need to have a love for God and a yearning to be more aware of God. Then both your soul and spirit are focused upon God and there is harmony within you since your soul growth supports your spiritual yearning and your spirit’s light helps guide your soul’s growth.
Near the start of this podcast I promised you that we would do a little exercise together and I appreciate we’ve already covered a lot. So now I’d like to give you a chance to really reflect on where you are right now. And in order to do this I’m going to ask you to relax so if you’re driving then please pause this and come back to it. I know some people like to listen to podcasts while in their car, but this is one of those times where you don’t want to be distracted, because this is about you and you can only hear something for the first time, once.
I’m going to ask you some questions and I want you to be comfortable, relaxed, neutral and if you want you can close your eyes. This isn’t meditation so don’t go off, stay with me but sit back within yourself to become the observer of yourself. You know what I mean, relax into it… and as I speak, notice what comes up, what flows and where there is resistance within, if any… just be.
We’re almost done here. I don’t have any more questions but I do have a simple opportunity for you. In your stillness within listen to what I say next and then I invite you to take it and make it your own, repeating it on the inside. I will say it once so you can hear it, then I will say it again so that, if you choose, you can say it with me…
“I confirm and reaffirm my desire to be spiritual and to be more godly, welcoming God’s love and presence in my life”.
I invite you to say that with me… on the inside…
“I confirm and reaffirm my desire to be spiritual and to be more godly, welcoming God’s love and presence in my life”.
Whatever you noticed belongs to you and is personal. Sometimes people contact me with inspiring stories and feedback that comes from these exercises and podcasts so when you want to share any inspiration with others then please visit thewaybackgroup.org and leave a comment on the podcast page or the corresponding article. You should find the links below.
God bless you.
I’ll leave you with this last thought:
Spirituality is the thirst that can never be quenched.
“The only way to quench the thirst would be to become God. Nevertheless we must keep the thirst alive by wanting to be more aware of God. Then the light of God shines bright and alive within us.”