As humans, we all have a spiritual side even though we live in a material world. We know that money can’t buy many things such as happiness, love and friendship. Inside our minds a conflict always exists between our spiritual and material urges. The results are seen in the actions we take and the events that unfold every day. Sometimes our spiritual side wins. Some other times our material urge carries the day.
Spirituality is a lifelong pursuit that defines who we are and what we want to be. What does spirituality mean? Besides being true to ourselves, spirituality means being true to others and the rest of the world around us. During our lifetime, spirituality does not exist as a separate world. Although much larger in scope, it overlaps and intertwines with the material world. For instance, giving food and clothing to the poor is a spiritual act of kindness that satisfies the basic material needs of those we help. In performing a spiritual deed, we may cause misunderstanding or jealousy of others, which are mostly material in nature. No wonder discovering spirituality is a journey full of confusion and contradiction, hence frustration. Yet, it is not hard to find if we look for it. To begin, we must let our hearts rule, follow our conscience, and open our minds to the truth.
I see people pursuing spirituality on two levels — armchair and pragmatic. On the armchair level, we try to separate the two worlds in our minds, then immerse in the spiritual one with the help of religion, metaphysics or mythical legends. If we cannot extricate ourselves from the material world, at least we can forget about it for the moment.
On the pragmatic level, we acknowledge the difficulty if not the impossibility of separating the two. So we put heavier emphasis on the spiritual side of life. We try to find the true meaning of self and our relationships to others and the things around us. The purpose is to find a path to alleviate the pains and sufferings of humanity. We try to overcome the shortcomings of the material world, and improve it with our spiritual force. By giving the material world a spiritual lift, we achieve a new kind of freedom – the freedom from material wants and pains, and from being misled because we are closer to the truth. I choose to pursue the pragmatic path because spirituality and pragmatism are not mutually exclusive.
We don’t have to be religious to be spiritual, although millions of people seek spirituality through religion. It makes me sad to see many religious leaders and followers being corrupted by money, power, or even violence. Spirituality is a state of mind that naturally results in faithful acts of truthfulness, kindness and justice, not necessarily related to what or how we worship. It represents how much we learn to appreciate the value and purpose of life. In short, spirituality means how much we understand life’s profound meaning.
How do you want to pursue spirituality? Armchair or pragmatic, or a third way?