A recent survey revealed that a LARGE percentage of Americans don’t think of themselves as religious, but do identify themselves as “spiritual.”
When I heard this, my first question was, “What’s the diff?”
Okay, if you’re spiritual you don’t go to a mainstream church or synagogue or mosque… though, ironically, you may spend as much time as you want in a Buddhist temple without having to call the polling company and change your answer.
And, if you’re spiritual you typically still believe that there’s someone or something that made everything come into being and controls or, at least actively guides, whatever happens on the Earth and in the cosmos.
I’ve seen the word “spiritual” used in interesting places, like “Spiritual Marketing,” in which the word “spiritual” is a synonym for “metaphysical” which is a synonym for “some theory that we have no actual proof for so, instead, we’ll use personal stories and anecdotal tales in lieu of proof, even though we know this is the least reliable evidence ever created.” Similarly, believing you can control the molecules in the universe with your uncontrollable thoughts is often referred to as “spiritual.”
The other question that popped into my head (and if I believed in channeling, I could say that I was receiving this question from a highly advanced spiritual — read: imaginary — being) was:
“What’s the point of being spiritual?”
Seriously, what’s the value, what does one get out of it?
Years ago, I used the word “spiritual” to describe myself. But I think my justification for using that label was that I did a lot of meditation.
I also noticed that when I, and other people I met who called themselves “spiritual”, would say, “Oh, I’m not religious, but I am spiritual,” there was an air of superiority and arrogance that came with the statement. Okay, not an “air”, but an overwhelming putrid odor that could knock out a cow. Clearly, being “spiritual” was so much more evolved and intelligent than being religious.
But is it?
Buddhist art is spiritual, but Warhol isn’t?
Sedona is spiritual, but the noxious fume-spewing ports of New Jersey aren’t?
Eckart Tolle (or the Dalai Lama or Matthew Fox or — insert your favorite person here) is spiritual, but George Bush isn’t?
If a person makes those distinctions, how is that any different than some mainstream religion’s teachings about good vs. evil?
Spiritual people might argue that they don’t believe in “good vs. evil” but, how is “higher vs. lower” or “clear vs. confused” or “this vibration vs. that vibration” or “meditating vs. playnig pinball” really any different?
Come on, a judgment is a judgment.
Spiritual, more often than not, it seems, is just religious without the silly clothes and paid holidays. Oh, and you have more than one book to read for guidance. For many spiritual people, the hotel room for a weekend workshop has replaced the temple.
But, again, what’s the point? Why be spiritual?
If it’s to find some sort of happiness or contentment or calming explanation for our existence, then guess what? You can be happy, be content, and not feel any need to explain why we’re here without having to believe in, well, anything, let alone that you’ll be a better person if you listen to Enya instead of the Bay City Rollers (I hope you’re now unable to NOT think: S-A-TUR-DAY-NIGHT!).
Of course, the real joke is that you can’t even use a word to describe “having lost the urge or need to divide things into spiritual vs. mundane” since:
a) If you called yourself by that word, you would just be another arrogant, obnoxious whatever-that-word-is, and;
b) If you said that’s how you lived, people would just accuse you of being REALLY spiritual!