When someone says I’m actually quite a spiritual person, something inside of me revolts. As if in the act of naming something, the opposite is proven.
What the hell does that mean anyway? What is a “spiritual person”?
Does the Dalai Lama walk around saying:
Yeah, I’m a spiritual person. I’m one of the most spiritual people on this planet.
Nope, I can’t imagine it. But why not? He is right—the Dalai Lama’s a spiritual person. But what does spiritual and spirituality mean?
I turned to that font of all modern knowledge to find out. Wikipedia.
The term spirituality lacks a definitive definition, although social scientists have defined spirituality as the search for “the sacred,” where “the sacred” is broadly defined as that which is set apart from the ordinary and worthy of veneration.
Oh, baby. The term spirituality lacks a definitive definition.
There’s nothing definitive about it. It’s not defining. So if it doesn’t define anything, it’s totally pointless to use it to define something. A spiritual person, a spiritual moment, a spiritual book—you can’t use the word to define a person, a moment or a book because it doesn’t define anything.
Oh, wait. Social scientists have defined it. They gathered ’round in a big old pow wow and decided to ascribe it with meaning: as the search for the sacred.
So, a spiritual person is someone who’s searching for the sacred.
I’ve lost my sacred, have you seen it anywhere? Sacred, sacred… where’s my sacred?
That’s why the Dalai Lama is not a spiritual person—he’s never lost the sacred. Which brings us to sacred. What’s that, then? How is sacred defined?
Sacred: As that which is set apart from the ordinary and worthy of veneration.
Set apart from the ordinary. Set apart. Apart. A part.
The sacred is a part of the ordinary?
That’s why you’ve lost it! You’re confused! You’re right there living your ordinary life and you’ve forgotten that’s where the sacred lives, right in the middle of it all, as a part of the ordinary.
So you’re searching.
Because you’ve forgotten to venerate. You’ve forgotten to treat your ordinary life with reverence and respect.
Thats why before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
You forgot to respect and revere your life.
In the forgetting, you knew you’d lost something, so you went searching, and heard about this spirituality gig, so now you thought you knew what you were searching for.
You kept searching, reading this teacher and that book and watching that person on YouTube and going along to that Satsang. Now you’re a spiritual person. You’re a seeker. But you’ve got so hung up on all the trappings of seeking that you’ve forgotten what you’re looking for.
Let go all of the teachers and teachings and trappings and ideas and thoughts.
Look at your life. See your life. Isn’t it amazing? Isn’t it wonderful? Oh-my-gosh, you’re like, alive. Wow! Respect and revere that.
Now forget spirituality.
You’ve found what you were looking for. Now, you’re just a person. And it’s just life. You’re not separate anymore. You’ve found your sacred. You can lose the spirituality. It’s just life, with reverence.
Just to make sure, I was on a track (the right track, the wrong track—it’s just all just a track), I googled What Is Spirituality. Here’s what I found.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: elephant journal archives