Spirituality is knowing, believing and living in awareness of the spiritual (non-physical) aspects of life, which principally includes god, divine beings and the soul. Experiencing them and making them an essential part of life constitutes a large part of spirituality. As the awareness of these aspects become stronger, the person becomes more spiritual.
Briefly, spirituality can be defined as the awareness of the spiritual powers and the spirit world outside us, and perceiving the soul and other invisible constituents within us.
The ultimate benefit of spirituality is feeling whole, complete and unfragmented, which results in being at peace with oneself and one’s source and in harmony with the creations.
Religions generally lead man towards spirituality. They give teachings and practices that leads man on the path to spirituality. However, when the real message of the religion gets enmeshed with selfish interests, an excess of ritualism seeps in, fanaticism takes place of tolerance, then spirituality diminishes from religion and religion becomes an institution.
The Avesta word for spirituality is manah, which is very similar to the word for the mind. This implicates that the mind is the corridor which leads one to the spirit world. Zoroastrian religion does not give preference to spirituality over material life. It considers both as equal and gives equal importance to both in life. Each is necessary for the other, and they could never be mutually exclusive.
According to the Avesta, spirituality lies in cultivating wisdom to understand the purpose of the world, the role of one’s life therein and steps to fulfil this purpose. One of the main steps to fulfil this purpose is to identify good from evil, and truth from deception with the help of wisdom. Acquiring the knowledge of the material and spiritual worlds and then implementing the same in life, leads one to wisdom which contributes to the expansion of consciousness.
The first step to spirituality, is being conscious and aware of one’s own intrinsic nature. This not only helps us to be true to ourselves, but also helps us to find our flaws and eventually leads to expanding of consciousness and the realization of the potential divinity within.
One can know that one is well on the path of spirituality when one is able to recognize and realize the divinity within matter, first within oneself, then in other humans, and finally in all creations, animate as well as seemingly inanimate. This realization leads one to the higher truth that the primal source and beginning of all creations is in pure light, that all matter comes from it and has to finally culminate into it.
The quest of spirituality exposes the limitations of one’s own mind and opens the limitless possibility of bonding the individual consciousness (Vohu Manah) with Cosmic consciousness (Vahishta Manah) and tapping from its infinite store of energy and intelligence.
Since the spiritual aspects of life are hidden to the senses, they have to be searched and discovered. Spirituality is thus an active, conscious process that requires one to understand, search and connect.
One of the words that best defines Spirituality is Unity. The path to spiritually involves efforts to bring Unity between – the physical world with the spiritual world, man with the creations, human beings with divine beings, and finally human efforts with divine grace. Two words most indicative of ‘Unity’ in our prayers are Yazamaide “attunement” and hamazor “united in spiritual strength.” They remind man the importance of unity to evolve on path of spirituality.
It is not only necessary to attune with each and every physical and spiritual creation, but even with one’s own soul (innermost essence) and Fravashi (Guardian spirit). The ultimate attunement is that of individual consciousness of the mind with the divine Universal consciousness.
Making regular attempts to delve into one’s innermost spirit through the mind brings man nearer to the Universal Spirit as both are connected. Man’s spirit is potentially pure and perfect but is trapped in the imperfect world and evolving body, which is dominated by physical needs.
The yearning of the spirit to be united with its divine source is the reason for the feeling of incompleteness often experienced by men. Spiritual traditions are an attempt to enable men to once again become whole and complete.
Benefits of spirituality:
Spirituality has twofold benefits – one works inwards and the other opens up vistas outside us.
Spirituality gives us Roots, to delve into our inner self, providing the following benefits:
- A tranquil mind resulting in the experience of supreme reality, inner peace, mastery over self and eternal happiness.
- Confidence and inner calm to remain unaffected by external threats and conditions.
- Freedom from negative tendencies like stress, worry and anxiety.
- Focus to be in touch with one’s inner self.
- Health is a secondary benefit. Lower blood pressure, increased immunity and an increased tendency of the body to heal itself comes on account of a calm mind.
- A pleasing, charming, attractive and magnetic personality.
- Will power to change one’s negative tendencies.
Spirituality also gives Wings to reach out and be in tune with cosmic consciousness, energy and intelligence, which gives the following benefits:
- Guidance from the higher divine powers for daily life.
- Confidence on account of being guided by higher powers and intelligence
- An automatic resolve to live a value based life and become a guide to others.
Knowledge about spirituality should not be confused with the practice of spirituality. Knowledge alone does not lead to spirituality. Determination and Will power to pursue the practice and inculcate certain attitudes and mind-sets lead to self-discovery of spiritual truths.
There are several paths to spirituality, some predominating in knowledge, some in love, some in service and some in the practice of disciplines. A person is free to choose the path, preferably within the framework of one’s religion and belief system, that is best suited to one’s nature and temperament. It is necessary to be understanding and tolerant towards other paths and their adherents.