Thoughts from the experience of a seeker for 40 years, answers to the questions asked, part 1.
What is spirituality?
This is the kind of question that is good to ponder over and over again so that one’s spiritual aspiration and the goal would remain pure and clear.
If you think about the word spirituality, the thought that comes to mind is that it is a life in which you pursue a connection with the Spirit. And what is Spirit then? Spirit is verbalized differently in different philosophies, but its sanctity and origin are probably similar. Each of us has a spirit within us, which can be said to be a life force or can be described as a part of God within us. God, the great life-sustaining and creating Source is in us as a spirit, as a spark, and keeps us alive. So in Finnish, the spirit is “that something” in us that keeps us in the body and alive. After all, we also say in Finnish that now the spirit has left. That saying describes death. Thinking on this basis, the Spirit is that divine part of a person, which is not bound to the body, but leaves and returns to its creator when the body dies. We can also call it our highest self to separate it from our lower self, our body, and our desires.
Spirituality is therefore an effort to live in connection with one’s own divine spark, i.e. in connection with one’s own immortal spirit, which is a part of God. After all, that is the purpose of man while we are on earth in the body. However, striving for a connection with the spirit is not connected to any church or only to a single religion, but it is the aspiration of all souls when they are born on earth.
In order to get to that spirituality and spiritual life, we have to find the means by which we can do it. Each of us is free to seek and choose which path we will take in trying to achieve the guidance of the spirit in our own lives. Of course, the most important thing is that we actively strive for it in our own everyday life, because spirituality does not depend on the courses we take or on someone else’s guidance. Quite the contrary, because the more we look outside of ourselves, the more confused we often find everything. The inner passion, the will to live a better life, to strive for good humanity, and to be a more loving neighbor to everyone are true, thoughts consistent with the spirit. In order for the kindness, the love of our neighbor, and tolerance in us to come out, it requires efforts and our own work, so that we could become people who strive for the good of all instead of selfishness. Spirit or spirituality, does not judge, does not feel superior or want to oppress others, but is tolerant and strives to set a good example.
In order for us seekers of truth to ever be able to say that we live a spiritual, everyday life guided by the spirit, we must first remove those obstacles that stand in the way of that connection. Each true pursuer will surely find the means and teachings that guide towards it. After all, Masters and great Teachers have descended on the earth, who have brought the necessary instructions. As examples, we can mention Jesus and the Dalai Lama, the great teacher of peace and compassion living in this time. Actually, everyone who lives according to the advice of holy books is a great example on earth of how anger, condemnation, vindictiveness, and other “sins” on earth can be overcome with love and, above all, with one’s own spiritual work.
What is New Age?
When you google the definition of New Age, you get a very mixed picture of different trends and it’s unfortunate that that definition of New Age is not up to date. It was probably some kind of an awakening, maybe even a protest at the time of its birth, because through it they started seeking for a different, more individual truth about the Spirit. The condemnation, abuse, and use of power by the church that had continued for centuries were part of the reason why a movement away from it began to appear worldwide. The New Age movement is not associated with religiousness, but its idea is individual search and experience, which, although in this time, has taken on increasingly peculiar forms.
In this day and age, everything that whoever can claim to be a spiritual search, activity, or path is bundled under that New Age definition. Having followed this, I’m sorry, spiritual circus here in Finland for more than forty years, one cannot help but feel compassion for those who strive to find the truth about how to pursue the connection with the Spirit. My own experience is that nowadays New Age is such a big mess that you can no longer find spirituality there. Or at least it’s really hard. That is why many, who pursue a connection with God or their own highest, have quit this present New Age current. There are so many weird things in it, magic, using intoxicants, abuse of other seekers, idealizing darkness, or denying it, that it can no longer be called spirituality. Surely you can find under that name a lot of good and real helpers and travelers of the spiritual path.
Today, New Age is a big movement that repeats the same “mistakes” over the decades, every new generation in its own way. Many trends do not really pursue much purity of soul and body, which should be one of the most important ideas of spirituality. Those waves, that is, the “spiritual” themes that are in fashion, which are experienced a lot in this time, are therefore to a large extent replicas of past decades, spiced up with the phenomena of this time. What also still connects past years and today is how spirituality is pursued through selfishness, fulfilling one’s own desires. Conspiracy theories and millions of YouTube channels are also associated with New Age nowadays, which run on just everything, and their message does not have to be based even on spiritual laws or striving for good, but often on some “awakened” person’s desire to gain appreciation, attention and a lot of followers. You cannot often talk about responsibility.
The basic New Age thing is said to be tarot cards, foretelling, various rituals, idealizing a free life, emphasizing sexuality and the body, creating from one’s own desires, only for one’s own good, as well as being against something, and rebelling against the system. And where has the Spirit and pursuing a connection with it been left?
Then what about religions?
If you have been following the recent news, e.g. the church’s own campaigns or the story from the Finnish public broadcasting company (Yle) that appeared this week, you must have noticed that there is a kind of war going on against freedom of choice and freedom of religion. I am of course of the opinion that it is good to bring things up, especially when under that New Age there is so much activity damaging the soul and person. But it would be great if the condemning and downright persecuting activities of the church were also brought to the forefront. What is really scary is that church representatives can broadly define what is allowed and what is condemnable. As if we were returning to the dark Middle Ages with its persecutions. Because our experience is that the church has most insulted, condemned, and attacked also our community striving for peace and spiritual life. I’m not criticizing religion and individual believers and good people, but I wonder about the imagined right of a certain group to attack and group everything else for condemnation except their own actions.
If in general the church and the institution connected to it were loving and opened their doors and hearts to everyone, even giving up their office hours, I believe that the church would not need to run a campaign in which other trends are slandered and even discredited. If in the church and its different faiths there were individuals in visible places striving for good who follow the teachings of Jesus, then that good would attract seekers of God. The love of one’s neighbor for all could bring believers back into its circle. We have an example from the last fair in Joensuu, how the church landed there as well and also came to our stand to shout and scold us on behalf of the fact that only they carry Christ in their hearts. The condemnation in the name of Jesus continued for several minutes until they arrogantly smiled and still pointed at us and moved on to attack the next victim. I understand very well that this kind of behavior drives you away from the church more than it makes you want to go there. The most important lesson about love towards those who are perceived as enemies was quite not realized.
What is a religious person?
The one who believes in God, the living Creator, the Source, the Highest Force, and/or Its messengers on earth is a religious person. No church is needed for that, no supreme body that measures the amount of a person’s faith, or any instance that defines a person’s “sins” or scares them with damnation. God, who loves, loves always because every person is a part of that great sustainer of Life. Maybe it would be time to move to a new phase, a new age ;), where we could all resort to the Love of God without the fear that someone will judge the way we approach God. Without tolerance and the pursuit to love one’s neighbor, the world will surely not change, but perhaps it is too big a lesson for humanity.
I still believe in a good God, the Source, which creates and sustains life here on earth as well. God is Love, and love is not a being with a masculine figure with a desire for revenge, to separate the true believers from the false, or to hate his creations. Isn’t it time to switch to the faith of love that doesn’t need religions for which wars and life are destroyed? Aren’t you also tired of the constant feuds in our world? I am and was already five years old when I first recognized the energy of our world. For almost sixty years since that moment, I have carried that sorrow but finally turned it into an effort that can change the world for the better. None of us can do miracles, but we can change ourselves for the better and through that our world as well.
I still hope that one day I could meet a church representative who, without fear and prejudice, would be ready to share his thoughts with us. I, at least, would have questions for a Bible expert that puzzle me. For example, I would like to understand that when the last Master left his own testament to humanity, why didn’t it cancel the old one? Maybe I still have a few decades to get answers to the questions that have puzzled me for so many years.
God willing 🙂
Be well, believe in the good in yourself and in others and find it in the world as well, and be tolerant and loving examples yourself. In this day and age, we truly need it.