“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement…to be spiritual is to be amazed.” -Abraham Joshua Heschel
What does it mean to be spiritual?
What does it mean to you?
To me, to be spiritual is to be deeply, richly emotionally engaged in one’s subjective experience. This is what it feels like to be human, and I love it! Contemplating the very prospect of our own existence provides sufficient arousal of my emotions for me to consider such a task to be “spiritual”.
More specifically, spirituality is a sacred union between the exploration of wonder and the embodiment of sanctity, used to satiate the human desire for meaning and connectedness.
Consider this. Most of the human body is composed of elements that formed in the cores of Supergiant stars, which then collapsed and exploded outward in supernova explosions.
The remnants from these explosions condensed and cooled into chunks of rock and gas. At least one of these chunks of rock facilitated the formation of self replicating molecules, which have continued to replicate, grow into complex systems, and diversify into the diversity of life we see on Earth today. Certain lineages of these systems developed patterns of information processing which eventually proved sufficient to give rise to consciousness.
Humans are simply macrobiological systems which have developed complex methods of base molecule replication, and whose brains are sufficient to give rise to conscious experience.
The same self-replicating molecules which gave birth to your consciousness gave birth to all the beautiful flora and fauna of the Earth. As the fauna breathe, they gift the flora with the breath of life. As the flora breathe, they gift the fauna with the breath of life. As a lion eats an antelope, the antelope gifts life to the lion. As the lion dies, the lion gifts life to the flora, which gifts life to the antelope and then to the lion. Thus, the circle of life.
The consciousness you experience has only arisen due to the fact that certain Supergiant stars exploded billions of years ago in the brightest flashes the universe has seen.
That gives me every reason to look up at the night sky in tremendous awe. I don’t know of anything more spiritual than this. You are literally stardust. You are literally the universe admiring itself.
I am not spiritual in the sense that I subscribe to religious dogma, or follow “new age” spiritual thinking, I am spiritual in the sense that I embrace my own feelings and emotional states within my human experience. I acknowledge that all of my feelings, even those which one could deem the “most real” or “most profound”, are only within my subjective experience. Subjectivity describes our experience as conscious beings.
Setting aside their flaws and occasional rotten fruits, organized religions of modern day (at least those most common religions) provide and cultivate incredible benefits including:
- Providing an orderly doctrine which may serve as a philosophical guide to living one’s life.
- Providing a community of like-minded individuals.
- Encouraging a deep sense of spirituality and appreciation of the contents of conscious existence.
I contend that the feelings of elation, sanctity, and wonder that individuals describe as religious experience are not contingent on subscription to that religion, or on the belief that the religion offers epistemological truth, but that these feelings are innately human and can be accessed by a deep emotional appreciation of certain aspects of existence.
So go be spiritual:
- Slow down and appreciate the taste of food.
- The smell of the forest and of the soil.
- The smell and sound of rain.
- Immerse yourself in the vibrant richness of music.
- Live musically. Let your spirit vibe like the harmonies of a beautiful song.
- Dare to dance. Sing out loud. Learn to play an instrument. Read more poetry.
- Gaze upon the night sky, the sunrise, and beautiful landscapes.
- Feel the cold water of the ocean and forest creeks, the sun on your skin, the wind through your hair.
- Embark on a journey.
- Climb mountains.
- Jump out of an airplane (with a parachute, please).
- Contemplate the 100 billion stars of each galaxy, the 100 billion galaxies of the observable universe, and what life and conscious biological systems may have arisen throughout the universe, and what may yet arise.
- Marvel at the wonder of human existence.
- Smile often. Cry when it urges you. Laugh at mistakes.
- Travel the world. Value your relationships. Love more deeply. Speak sincerely.
- Listen to others’ stories. Be generous. Demonstrate kindness. Give back if it is within your means.
Awaken your physical senses, and your emotions. Use them as tools to optimize your subjective reality, and live a life that is worth living. This is what it feels like to be human.
Here are some tunes and videos to help you get your spirituality on:
- Spiritual Ascension Music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EukxHmAAYt4
- Surfing the Clouds, by SonicAid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhOuopJRtfQ
- Follow the Sun, by Xavier Rudd https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0E1bNmyPWww
- Spirit Bird, by Xavier Rudd https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmxSxKxBbQE
- Glory, Glory Hallelujah https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COPKiVmEim8
- Hallelujah, by Casting Crowns https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fORhnYILTSo
- Who Am I, by Casting Crowns https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBcqria2wmg
- Until the Whole World Hears, by Casting Crowns https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7qi2KlUffs
- Touch the Sky, Disney’s Brave https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvR9YOpDG4A
- Te Fiti Returns, Disney’s Moana https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9qw2vN-bgk
- The Circle of Life, Disney’s The Lion King https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GibiNy4d4gc
- The Most Astounding Fact, question to Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D05ej8u-gU
- Our Cosmic Address https://m.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=P6cw5Yv-zqU&feature=youtu.be
- Star Size Comparison to the Edge of the Expanding Universe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoW8Tf7hTGA
- Pale Blue Dot, excerpt from book by Carl Sagan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wupToqz1e2g
- Pellucidity, by Yaima https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hsjx4dA3Z0
- I Hope You Dance, by Lee Ann Womack https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kku5xejGduo
- Philosopher Jason Silva on “Awe” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QyVZrV3d3o
- Adiemus, by Karl Jenkins https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aL8kZ-iVk90
- Benedictus, by Karl Jenkins set to a cosmic voyage video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibwxzxER_pY