In a recent conversation about spirituality, someone mentioned that there are all sorts of opinions out there. Suddenly it struck me. Today’s arena of spirituality is a free-for-all. Science is different. In science, things are logically verifiable, or at least justifiable and reasonable. Spirituality is plagued with superstition, convention, indoctrination, and emotionalism. For that reason, pretty much anything goes. Most everyone has already formed an opinion. This is all compounded by the fact that spirituality is generally approached as an escape from having to really think. It is not generally considered to be an arena where things need to make sense. Therefore, a rational approach to spirituality is viewed as just another opinion.
Can you imagine if the field of science was riddled with nothing other than irrational opinions, one valued just as much as the other? If so, there would be no telephone, no automobiles, no television… basically just the Stone Age. Sadly, that is the state of spirituality in the world today. Just as the ancient Rishis said, this is Kali Yuga – the Age of Ignor-ance. This is further compounded in that people commonly take offense at the very idea of taking a critical look at their perspective on spirituality. What a mess.
This all started when the scientific age was in its infancy. The very tenets of spirituality made no sense to those scientific novices. Today, science has advanced sufficiently enough to actually make sense of spirituality. Thusly, the wheat is separated from the chaff. Superstition, emotionalism, indoctrination, and irrationality are filtered out of the field of spirituality. As with science, there is no longer room for a free-for-all of random opinions. Adi Shankara referred to this process as discernment. Discernment is integration of all aspects of awareness – the rational with the emotional, the thinking with the feeling, the heart with the mind. That integration is practically non-existent today. Even those who attempt to approach spirituality from a rational perspective have, for the most part, been unable to put all the pieces together. The true art of discernment has fallen by the wayside. The degree to which someone is spiritual is determined by how fully indoctrinated they are to a particular dogma.
I trust that, at this point, stating that spirituality needs to be redefined will not be viewed as just another opinion. So what is spirituality? Let’s define spirituality as the field that integrates all fields of life into a unified whole. A spiritual life, then, is a life that strives to attain that level of wisdom, knowledge, insight, and understanding. This demands vision, a willingness to look beyond what you currently know, while at the same time looking directly into the face of what you do know, and questioning it: the art of discernment.