What Is Spirituality?

Question

What is spirituality? What does it mean to be spiritual? I’m confused.

Thank you in advance for your response.

With Gratitude,

Diane

—Diane, Canada

Answer

Dear Diane,

Being ‘spiritual’ and being ‘religious’ are often confused. I think by contrasting them it is easier to understand what ‘spirituality’ is. In this answer I am quoting freely from a book that Swami Kriyananda wrote, God is for Everyone. You can find this book at online websites such as Amazon and you can read the first three chapters free on our website here.

Yogananda said “everyone in the world is on the spiritual path” and Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Yogananda added, “by no means is everyone, however, aware of being on a path at all.” Spirituality is a conscious aspiration, consciously seeking God in the way most personally meaningful and therefore individual. Formal religion is a branch of civilized society, a social activity designed to uplift humanity and institutionalized to benefit as many people as possible. Spirituality demands not only personal involvement but serious personal effort. Spirituality’s focus is inward and uncompromising. Formal religion makes fewer requirements. Formal religion asks for conformity to set values that are prescribed by a central religious institution and presented in such a way that all members of that religion can embrace them.

Spirituality seeks Truth rather than simply declaring it. The seeker does not just believe blindly but is encouraged to verify every spiritual claim through the inward experience of the Truth for themselves. “Faith is no mere expectation. Nor is it wishful thinking imposed by man on objective reality. It is more, also than belief, which is simply a hypothesis. Faith is born of direct experience. Ultimately it is the clear recognition that God alone exists; that only He has the power to free us forever from all suffering, and to grant us eternal bliss.” Walking the spiritual path challenges all of our assumptions. On the spiritual journey, it is essential to have guidance. The seeker may find spiritual guidance in spiritual writings and through teachers. Ultimately when the seeker’s longing for union with the Divine Presence becomes very strong the guru comes to lead us.

Blessings,
Nayaswami Mukti