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Unfortunately, that’s about as specific as most of us get with regards to our understanding of spirituality.
My intention is to give you sensible, universal, and practical answers to the various difficult questions that rest within the idea of what spirituality is and it’s purpose. Really though, spirituality is an experience, one which can be placed into words, but only as effectively as when someone explains what it was like to get bitten by a shark, assuming you’ve never been bitten by a shark before.
The point being that the definition or explanation isn’t the actual experience itself. Seek to experience spirituality directly, as opposed to learning about it or discerning it through intellectual means. It’s for this reason that I begin the guide with this section, as a reminder that the words written here are not spirituality in themselves, but a gateway to it. Having said that, you can get a pretty good idea of what spirituality is about by looking for and studying the similarities within what various people call (or have called) spiritual activities and experiences.
So use this definition to bring clarity to your own spiritual practice and help you in building (or deepening) your practice.
OK, so we have a clear and concise definition of spirituality which helps us understand what it is in a basic sense and how to go about pursuing it, but we still don’t have a very clear understanding of it. Because spirituality and everyday life are one and the same thing, spirituality is simply the act of touching your everyday life deeply and truly, with all mental barriers removed. But keep in mind that a spiritual practice isn’t about adding something new to your life, acquiring something, or improving yourself, but about reducing friction through dissolving the ego and re-tuning yourself with the ultimate.
But spiritual materialism only seeks to further promote the ego and is directly at odds with an authentic spiritual practice of any kind. Be warned- attempting spiritual practices with this ideal will only perpetuate feelings of lack and incompleteness, not cure them.
True peace and happiness aren’t achieved by promoting the ego, only by finding wholeness through an authentic spiritual practice which dissolves the ego and cultivates love for all beings.
Various things can hold you back, such as fear, anger, and other limiting beliefs, but they all center around the existence of the ego, the single solitary obstacle on your path to realizing spiritual awakening. All this talk of spirituality and spiritual practice might seem other-worldly, but I assure you that spiritual practice itself is as real and down to Earth as it gets. What I mean by that is, spiritual practice, for the most part, is really just you working on you (or discovering the real you) in very real and practical ways.


Whatever you do, whether it’s doing Hatha Yoga, sitting in silence, going to church on Sunday to pray, or just sweeping the floor, do it with mindfulness to bring yourself into the experience fully and to touch your sense of spirituality. Dissolving the ego is such an important part of spiritual practice because the ego is at fault for much of the suffering we experience in our lives.
Your mindfulness practice will begin to make you aware of these occasions, and in doing so will present you with an opportunity for spiritual growth. Cultivating love, as much as an aspect of spiritual practice, could be considered a unique path in and of itself. There’s few things as effective in spiritual practice than connecting directly with others in a deep and mindful way. Within spiritual practice, there are a number of critical mistakes which can be made, so to finish The Ultimate Guide to Spirituality I wanted to highlight the most prevalent ones I’ve encountered in order to help you along your own spiritual journey.
If you close yourself off to other spiritual traditions, you close yourself off to peace and happiness. The other points are misunderstandings, misunderstandings that can and often are corrected through an authentic spiritual practice.
By this I mean believing that spiritual practice is about being alone to yourself and doesn’t require, or benefit from, interacting with other people.
Most of us have a picture in our heads of a spiritual man living as a hermit away from society on the top of a mountain or something. The Buddhist sangha, a sangha being a group of practitioners who live and practice together (a spiritual family of sorts), is much more effective because it helps us learn to live deeply and mindfully, and therefore strengthens our spiritual practice, in our everyday lives as opposed to requiring that the person stay secluded from others. In the same way that a Buddhist monk or nun utilizes their sangha to grow spiritually, you can learn from the people in your own life. The lessons will be different, and it will likely be more difficult because not everyone around you will be about your same goal of living with mindfulness, cultivating love for all beings, and developing spiritually in general, but it’s still an effective way to develop spiritually if you can sift the lessons from your everyday experiences. This is the spiritual path I most follow, although I appreciate and have been deeply touched by other Buddhist teachers as well as many non-Buddhist teachers. This guide was intended to help you gain clarity about and realize the importance of spirituality, as well as to either discover the beginnings of your own spiritual practice or deepen your existing practice.
But fortunately, while it may seem oversimplified, that’s more than enough to serve as a basis for a more thorough understanding of what spirituality is and how it actually takes shape in our daily lives. Because just as language isn’t the thing itself, the experience, but still helpful in allowing you to understand or become closer to said thing, having a clear and universal definition of spirituality can help us to bring clarity to our own spiritual practices.


In this case, it will help you begin to understand what spirituality feels like in a real sense.
Spiritual materialism is the desire for your spiritual practice to gain you personal advancement. This distorts spiritual practice into something altogether different and actually promotes the ego and perpetuates suffering in the long run.
Spiritual practice is, in large part, an act of dissolving the ego in order to realize your true nature. But a spiritual practice not based on developing awareness, or mindfulness, as it’s foundation is ineffective at best.
If you look closely and honestly you’ll notice quite a few similarities between seemingly different spiritual traditions. If you take one thing from this article let it be the knowledge that you can touch your spirituality within your ordinary everyday life.
Everyone’s at various levels of understanding, gradually advancing their spiritual comprehension. A daily practice, one which touches your sense of spirituality and nourishes your well-being should be a daily practice. The great Tibetan meditation teacher, Chogyam Trunpa, wrote that we are often "deceiving ourselves into thinking we are developing spiritually when instead we are strengthening our egocentricity through spiritual techniques." He called this kind of self-deception spiritual materialism. Cultivating love for yourself is altogether necessary for a healthy spiritual practice and infinitely rewarding. Understanding this, you should embrace those of different spiritual and religious traditions. We all deal with spiritual materialism; here's a list, from my book The Seeker's Guide, of 10 common pitfalls of spiritual materialism you may encounter on your spiritual journey and the key signs that you're on the path of progress.



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