Then, what about spirituality is the immediate next question that comes in the QnA session post the lecture 🤓
I empathise with the confusion around spiritual awakening, stoicism, truth, enlightenment, ontology, epistemology, religion, faith, almighty, grace, mindfulness and the worst of all is spiritual psychology 🙈
Here is my spiky point of view after countless inquiries on multiple topics around spirituality.
Let me start with "I don't know what I don't know". I also understand that my ignorance >> knowledge and this equation will stay true till my breath becomes air. All said and done, I made peace with all the topics above and I will share my POV here.
Before going deep into spirituality, let's understand the nature of the social animal in us. We are an individual and a collective. We are an absolute and relative. In this equation we are a collective first and individual next. We are relative first and absolute next.
The underlying reason for all human behaviours is survival - survival of self, survival of genes (reproduction) and surviving better (greed/envy). As herds we survive better. For example: It is easy to fight as a group than as an individual. We prefer greed/hoarding over giving/compassion as more helps us survive longer. In our default human nature, not sharing is caring 🤪
To survive, we want things to be certain and predictable. Comparison helps us with predictability. It helps us set a threshold. No bar is scary (as it might take a lot of energy to accomplish). As energy efficient creatures we hate all things that guzzle energy like thinking deeply, hard work, intense work, focused work etc. We are pleasure loving and pain avoiding creatures. Comparisons help us define and calculate the delta between where we are and where we want to go.
It is fascinating that we don't compare ourselves with an olympian or a world champion or a Nobel Laurette or a super successful entrepreneur. We compare ourselves within our dominance hierarchy.
Like a wifi signal, we circle our comparison in our little bubble. Our immediate society, our classmates, our peers at work, our kitty parties and more. Our giving is two steps below us and getting is two steps above us. We dare to go twenty steps above or below. This is why our peer groups matter. That is for another day!
So, what has all this got to do with religion, spirituality or philosophy. Glad you asked!
Religion is belief in a god or gods and the activities that are connected with this belief.
Spirituality is about seeking a meaningful connection with something bigger than self.
Philosophy on the other hand is about seeking to understand the fundamental truths about the human beings, the world in which they live, and their relationships to the world and to each other.
It is very easy to confuse spirituality, religion and philosophy as the underlying thread among all three is something more than self. It could be god, it could be an argument/idea or it could be just overwhelming life that makes us feel helpless.
When an experience is beyond self and we don't understand it fully, we give it a name and box it into a belief. When the experience is positive, we call it god. When the experience is negative, we call it demon. This is why atheists and theists are similar: one exists on one side of belief, and the other on the opposite side.
As a student of human nature, I feel the common thread is perception. Perception is about how we make meaning. When something is abstract, invisible and intangible, we struggle with our perception. This is why, I believe we struggle with concepts like spirituality, god and ideas. But when we go past the discomfort of not knowing & uncertainty and explore deeper, we travel farther and we understand through experience that life is a lot more than our survival instincts.
When deeper experience like love, compassion, gratitude, peace, bliss, kindness, empathy touches you and expands you more than yourself, you long for more of it. Sometimes when we don't get it, we want to conquer it and that is when possessiveness, obsession, control, cruelty, fear based relations, slavery blossoms.
But when we understand we are a small peck in the cosmos, we are overwhelmed by the human insignificance. When the being can feel the experience and insignificance, it drops the identity towards a group or ethnicity or a geography or family or possessions. It drops the need to be compared in the dominance hierarchy. The shift in the being changes their perception, their awareness and their values. This is what ontology focuses on.
Now the world of leadership has understood the power of being, it is trying to bring in the awakening to the leaders. Harvard is focusing on spiritual leadership or transformative leadership as a subject now. When all these discussions is just a chatter and not an experience, it remains as a mere discussion. When a human deeply experiences the higher levels of awareness, perception shapes, clarity increases then magic happens.
The day I understood this part of the human nature, I stopped talking about these aspects and started living with a strive for enhanced perception. In my view, human growth is enhanced perception.
🥂 to perception!