What is "Spirituality"?


I was recently asked this question on our Facebook group, The Stoned Apes, by one of our fellow Stoned Apes and I wanted to dive into this deeply.

This was my response on FB:

Hi, thanks for your question. I would like to refrain from answering this question as a simple “yes” or a simple “no”.
I’d rather discuss with you what is “spirituality”. What does it mean to be spiritual? Why should we be spiritual? What is the psychological movement of the “spirit” within the mind? What is “spirit” and how can it be an action verb form of itself?
I’d love to find out, together with you, and not say whether I am or we are spiritual or non-spiritual.
I think it is an imperative to understand what is spirituality. So the right questions should be asked, and critical thought applied, so we can examine the whole enterprise of spirituality.
Once we know exactly what spirituality is, we can then begin to see on those merits whether it exists anywhere in the world, and if so, where.
How does that sound? Would you be interested in such a discussion?

First, let’s begin by looking at what we already know and then once we identify what we know, let’s discard that, so that we may begin anew, for ourselves discover the nature of spirituality, and in doing so, discover the spirituality of Nature.

What do we know about spirituality?


An answer to alot of peoples quiestions? makes alot of people feel comfortable. Thinking they have the answers.From one of the many thousands of gods out there.This place here now is heaven and hell nobody ever leaves and goes to far. Those are my thoughts for the moments


I rarely use the word, unless I am communicting with someone that I know uses it and regards it as important.

And then I have adopted the habit of indicating that it is a problematic word by wrapping it with quotes, as in, “spirituality”. I do teh same thing with “enlightenment” and some other words. It’s a memory device, a way to remind myself that these words will always cause specific problems.

What are those problems?

The word “spirituality” doesn’t mean one thing, or even one clear class of things. It has been loaded down with literally thousands of connotations, and is used to describe hundreds and hundreds of things which are very different from each other. BUT, the word when used creates an artificial and misleading sense of unity of meaning.

is shamanic 'spirituality" exactly the same thing as Bucke’s Cosmic Consciousness, or a christian monks experience performing the Kyrie Elieson, or the oceanic golden moment, or the feeling that someone who is dead has just comunicated something? Intuition? Sync and coincidence?

I am going to say it is not. That lumnping things under the term spirituality is a fundamental error caused by language. And that we have the obigation, once we start seeing this error, to correct in ourselves by being more sophuiticated and intentional in our language, aand to prevent it’s causing confusion in others by being careful about the social use of words like “spirituality”.

I find etymology helps with this. What is the etymology of the word “spirituality”?

It refers to breath…

"spiritual (adj.)
c. 1300, “of or concerning the spirit” (especially in religious aspects), from Old French spirituel, esperituel (12c.) or directly from a Medieval Latin ecclesiastical use of Latin spiritualis “of or pertaining to breath, breathing, wind, or air; pertaining to spirit,” from spiritus “of breathing, of the spirit” (see spirit (n.)). Meaning “of or concerning the church” is attested from mid-14c. Related: Spiritually. An Old English word for “spiritual” was godcundlic.


“spirituality (n.)
early 15c., “the clergy,” also “ecclesiastical property; things pertaining to the Church,” from Middle French spiritualite, from Late Latin spiritualitatem (nominative spiritualitas), from Latin spiritualis (see spiritual). Meaning “quality of being spiritual” is from c. 1500; seldom-used sense of “fact or condition of being a spirit” is from 1680s. An earlier form was spiritualty (late 14c.).”


"spirit (n.)
mid-13c., “animating or vital principle in man and animals,” from Anglo-French spirit, Old French espirit “spirit, soul” (12c., Modern French esprit) and directly from Latin spiritus “a breathing (respiration, and of the wind), breath; breath of a god,” hence “inspiration; breath of life,” hence “life;” also “disposition, character; high spirit, vigor, courage; pride, arrogance,” related to spirare “to breathe,” perhaps from PIE *(s)peis- “to blow” (source also of Old Church Slavonic pisto “to play on the flute”). But de Vaan says “Possibly an onomatopoeic formation imitating the sound of breathing. There are no direct cognates.”

Meaning “supernatural immaterial creature; angel, demon; an apparition, invisible corporeal being of an airy nature” is attested from mid-14c.; from late 14c. as “a ghost” (see ghost (n.)). From c. 1500 as “a nature, character”; sense of “essential principle of something” (in a non-theological context, as in Spirit of St. Louis) is attested from 1680s, common after 1800; Spirit of '76 in reference to the qualities that sparked and sustained the American Revolution is attested by 1797 in William Cobbett’s “Porcupine’s Gazette and Daily Advertiser.”

From late 14c. in alchemy as “volatile substance; distillate;” from c. 1500 as “substance capable of uniting the fixed and the volatile elements of the philosopher’s stone.” Hence spirits “volatile substance;” sense narrowed to “strong alcoholic liquor” by 1670s. This also is the sense in spirit level (1768). Also from mid-14c. as “character, disposition; way of thinking and feeling, state of mind; source of a human desire;” in Middle English freedom of spirit meant “freedom of choice.” From late 14c. as “divine substance, divine mind, God;” also “Christ” or His divine nature; “the Holy Ghost; divine power;” also, “extension of divine power to man; inspiration, a charismatic state; charismatic power, especially of prophecy.” Also “essential nature, essential quality.” From 1580s in metaphoric sense “animation, vitality.”

According to Barnhart and OED, originally in English mainly from passages in Vulgate, where the Latin word translates Greek pneuma and Hebrew ruah. Distinction between “soul” and “spirit” (as “seat of emotions”) became current in Christian terminology (such as Greek psykhe vs. pneuma, Latin anima vs. spiritus) but “is without significance for earlier periods” [Buck]. Latin spiritus, usually in classical Latin “breath,” replaces animus in the sense “spirit” in the imperial period and appears in Christian writings as the usual equivalent of Greek pneuma. Spirit-rapping is from 1852."

It’s connected to other breath words like Pneuma (the holy spirit), inspire (to breath in, to fill with breath), etc.