I hate spirituality. Or rather, I hate that word. It used to have more meaning when I was younger. I don’t mind the word “religion” because it’s way easier to define, although most religious people dare to identify as religious because it’s just so darn hip to identify as “spiritual”, and if you’re really cool, you are “spiritual but not religious”. Snore. It’s 2020, we’ve heard that a lot of this jargon for over a decade. In fact, if you ask google to search over a hundred years worth of books, the word “spirituality” started significantly appearing during the 1980’s, rose in popularity, and made it’s peak in recent years. The big thing I’ve noticed, is that when you ask a spiritual person about their faith, in my experience, these dear folks exhibit mostly religious traits the more I learn about their beliefs and stuff. Although I don’t hear a lot of this stuff from Jews and Catholics, I do hear this stuff a lot; and I’m thinking mostly of post-modern “seeker-sensitive” Bible-Christians and the many forms of Western Buddhism clubs, and the like. Great people, I like them. I just think that if we label religions with a different word, it starts to get kinda messy. Hey, I’m feeling like this could be one of my ranting 5-10K word articles, but lucky for you, I’m tired and it’s late so perhaps I can draw on a hidden power I think I have that rarely gives me the ability to summarize something. Here goes…
Literally! Yeah, that is a word that recently has lost it’s meaning. It so often relates to something intense, however it literally means, literally, as it actually, literally happened. He literally broke my heart. Literally! Barf. Anyway, that’s literally my point. (Laugh quietly to myself.) Most folks I’ve met that practice something they call spirituality sounds, and looks, way too much like a religion. Not only that, as I’m sure we’ve all seen this, religious people use that stuff to do really bad stuff, especially to those who are weak. What’s even worse, is when spiritual people abuse power. It makes religion even more deceiving when we stand behind the beloved S Word. Hey, look at that religious hypocrite over there, what an asshole. However, see how spiritual that other guy is. He must be a safe person. I’ve fallen for that before.
I’m trying to come up with my own definition, especially a meaning to this elusive buzzword, that even an atheist could identify with, as well as a higher-power-believer. My personal favorite is something like this…
Spirituality: Anything that helps you care for yourself and care for others.
If I live my life taking care of myself and others, why do I need to be spiritual? Another thing I like in addition to this, is anything in this category that actually gets results. Answered prayers, resolved conflicts, healing, charity, and other nifty stuff like that are what I’d consider results. I like movement meditation, for instance. However I can’t stand hanging out with teachers that are experts in qigong. I mess everything up. I also water it down so I don’t hurt my lower back. I do most of it wrong. I do it so badly in fact, I don’t even call it qigong. I call it “me-gong”. The thing is… it get’s ME the results I need and has become essential to my self-care arsenal.
If someone identifies as Spiritual But Not Religious, it’s funny to ask details about their faith. Most of these conversations I have with these dear folks eventually admit that they assemble regularly, have a common ideology, a higher power, prayers, offerings, books, candles, incense, purity codes, and often various things that separate themselves from outsiders. Smells like religion to me. I also notice that a lot of hip churches don’t like to use the word “church” anymore. Instead, they prefer to hide behind nicer sounding words like “community”. Then they pull out some kind of relatively unknown word from an ancient dead language. You are invited to the Kapota Community only to discover that it’s just another religious-church-thing. Then you leave the service, annoyed and disappointed, and you google that word to try to figure out if they’re talking about Hebrew wedding menswear, or a Sanskrit pigeon.
Another thing I hate about spirituality is that it implies some kind of perceived power. This power, although mostly fake power, can so easily be used to influence people in ways that overly benefit those with that power. It is also often identified with the supernatural and unexplainable. In my opinion, these kinds of experiences are primarily based on activity from other-dimensional voices and manmade thought-forms that are trying to tamper with the earth; and at the same time, mixed with a ton of psychological stuff, especially hypnotic suggestion. If you think religion can be dangerous, spiritual stuff can be even more so, especially because this lovely word we treasure makes a lot of people feel safe. Ain’t it swell that “religious abuse” is now so often called “spiritual abuse”? Rad.
Here’s the fun part… I did a few social experiments when I started producing a series of meditation pieces a while back with my group, Dialectic Flowers. I purposely didn’t do any spiritual stuff during the sessions. No smudging, energy work, prayers, meditation… nothing. Not only that, I’d do something irreverent during the recording like tell a dirty joke, and things that I’d consider non-spiritual. I wanted it to be strictly music – a sonic product – a thing to make and sell, like a cheeseburger. Here’s where it gets fun… These pieces of music were featured on the Insight Timer meditation app for millions of people worldwide and have gotten thousands of plays with some very surprising reviews. People have spiritual experiences to our music when there was no intention to have anything that would commonly be considered spiritual in the creation of this stuff. It’s just a recipe of music theory tricks, production tricks, and using certain textures that have worked in other people’s recordings. It’s fake meditation music, basically. The funny thing is that it gets results with a lot of people, and making it wasn’t too different from making a good cheeseburger. (Speaking of which, I happened to make both meditation music and a cheeseburger today in fact.)
Fuck spirituality. Let’s just find healthy, harmless, stuff that helps people.
March 28, 2020 – 11:48PM