Recently I have struggled with the word spiritual. Don’t get me wrong. I like spiritual as a word and I consider myself a spiritual person, in the sense that I am aware that developing a spiritual side (however you define it) is important for our long-term happiness.
But what does spiritual mean? One definition is: “Relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things”.
Leaving completely aside the point of whether a soul exists or not (I believe it does, anyway), it is with the second point of the definition, the opposition one, that I am struggling with. Let me explain.
If spiritual is something opposed to the material, by calling something spiritual, aren’t we already starting to divide ourselves and our perception of reality? Aren’t we already creating something which is worth, which is in fact spiritual, and something which is not?
I believe everything is valuable in life. Even the things that we loathe or that stretch our value systems. Not to say that challenging things should be looked for, but perhaps even them play a role in the bigger picture of our lives. As a zen story once said (or was it a Christian one? Who knows!) “the grain needs adversity to grow”.
Nature has always inspired many sensible people over the centuries. If we look deeply into nature we can find an uncountable number of lessons as in there even things that seem of little use, like worms for example, play a fundamental role in the balance of the eco-system.
From the point of view of nature the, nothing is then really good or bad. Everything serves and a natural balance takes care of itself. Nature (or call it the Universe if you want) is just too big to refuse anything. If something has the will to grow the opportunity will be given.
That is why I am replacing the word spiritual with the word natural in my own vocabulary. It is a way for me not to cut reality. It is an attempt not to cut out of my experience things that make me uncomfortable at first, but that, if looked into deeply present some opportunities to further understanding.
In this case nothing will have to be dismissed because, by definition, it is “in accordance with nature”. Isn’t it?