Q: OK, what about “spirituality?” Doesn’t this imply belief in supernatural beings and other tales of woo?
It can, but it needn’t. Spirituality can also be the metaphysical study of reality as a non-dual experience, consistent with observable patterns of Nature. Our premise is that:
1) There is a basic truth to the perception of “Spirit” as the essential substance of existence itself. Spirit is as good a concept as we have for this essence because, unlike the crude notion of matter separated from mind, it is all-inclusive, timeless and spaceless, transcendent of any conceptual boundaries and boxes we imagine for it. “Your” spirit, to the extent that you can claim it or vice versa, is your particular awareness of Awareness itself –of the omnipresence of Spirit, manifesting as myriad patterns of matter and mind, including the temporary portal of reflective self-awareness that goes by your name.
2) Its components, the denizens of the “spiritual world,” are, for the most part, objectively externalized projections of subjective, internal realities that cannot otherwise be easily understood — in other words, figments of our imagination, but vitally important figments that represent intangible aspects of our personhood that we neglect at our peril.
3) The idea of “Spirit” as used by theists and spiritualists, therefore, is flawed not by lack of truth, but by an unnecessary dualism of spirit and matter. It is a conceptual gork of misinterpretation, not an essential falsehood. When matter and mind are seen as two complementary and mutually coarising expressions of Spirit (such as in this interpretation of panpsychism, informed by Spinozan pantheism), a bridge exists from the flawed concept (invisible spirit) to the essential truth (omnipresent Spirit).
Consider this illustration: You have just watched a movie in a theater with a friend, and she asks you if you noticed the “spirit” that was present throughout every scene. You scan back through your fresh memory of the film and can come up with nothing at all you noticed that was consistently present. The dualistic viewpoint –a subject looking for a distinct object in the movie– will conclude that she is either lying or imagining this “spirit,” or she is talking about something that was invisible to the eyes and claiming the supernatural ability to perceive it, or speaking symbolically about an intangible quality such as the film’s aesthetics or moral fortitude or whatnot.
As students of Pantheism –a monist spirituality that reverses the assumption of spirit-matter duality –we have a different answer: The Spirit is the screen, without which there is no movie. It is the absolute ground (as in “background,” but in all possible directions and dimensions) of everything that happens in the movie. The entire time you were watching the movie, you were really looking at the screen in changing states of light-shadow and varying arrangements of hues.
Now, follow the same idea, but the screen is all around you, in every direction and at every possible distance, and the projector is within you. And you are in the movie as you witness it. YOU are Spirit in changing shades of light-shadow and various arrangements of hues.
That is the kind of spirituality we promote here –recognition of the universal (some will add Divine) ground of Being from which all existent realities arise. Not as sexy as a squadron of angels, or as monster movie as God Versus Satan, but it has the advantage of being real. (And we like the way those themes play out as literature better anyway.)
2. OK, what about “spirituality?” Doesn’t this imply belief in supernatural beings and other tales of woo?