Spirituality is the fundamental part of all of our religious and philosophical systems. It is the core of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and all other religions. It is also at the core of every thought system that we as humans have ever created: modern physics, communism, atheism, humanitarianism, and all the others too! This is because we, as humans, all have the same basic needs and wants. Like it or not, we all wear trousers or skirts, and eat a meal or two (if we’re really lucky) each day. So, spirituality is concerned with our deepest and most important desires for happiness, peace, and a bit of fun.
The spiritual part of our nature is subtle and ordinarily quite difficult to fully experience. It is usually so deep down inside of the heart that, most of the time, one can barely hear it. The many experiences and sensations of mind, body and the external world also tend to draw it out. Thus, spiritual practice is all about learning to get in touch with our most precious part, our spiritual nature. Spirituality builds upon personal psychology and well-being. But it is not the same thing.
Traditionally, the approach to spirituality can be either exoteric or esoteric. Exoteric refers to outer, more tangible aspects–things that we can see, touch, hear, smell, taste, and do. Examples would be praying, engaging in charitable and volunteer work, singing devotional songs, and attending lessons by a spiritual teacher. Also, some forms of meditation such as Vipassana and Zen are exoteric. For instance, Vipassana aims to keep the mind from wandering about by grounding it in actual experience. The mind is anchored more in the process than the content of direct sensory experience. So for instance, one would be just as aware of the sense of hearing as to what one is hearing. Likewise, Zen emphasises experience in the current moment and takes ordinary everyday activity for its meditational object. Esoteric refers to inner, more subtle aspects–things that are usually not apparent to our everyday consciousness. Examples would be visualisation practice ( seeing oneself in the form of a deity ), subtle perception ( clairvoyance ), psychic abilities ( telepathy, psychokinesis ), developing subtle energies ( tai chi, pranayama ), communicating with subtle life forms ( occult practices ), and meditations that emphasise deep, unwavering concentration on a single object ( repetition of a short prayer or mantra, holding to a single sensation such as the rise and fall of the abdomen, focus on a subtle energy centre or chakra ). Jesus Christ.
In fact, exoteric and esoteric are relative terms. They are more a matter of degree along a common spectrum rather than being unrelated spheres of experience. What is taken for esoteric is really just an extension of the exoteric. For instance, praying for a few minutes would be exoteric, but the saying of that same prayer by a devout person for many hours on end would, over time, become esoteric. Similarly, what is taken for exoteric is in fact really esoteric. For example, countless mystics have declared the sheer wonder and mystery of our commonplace experience of day-to-day living. What for us appears normal, and even dull at times, appears as miraculous and worthy of reverence to them.
What this means is that the esoteric is a natural progression to the exoteric. It encompasses the exoteric but does not deny or negate it. Both have their place in human experience. It is simply that our common experience–what we get if we do not develop our spiritual faculties–is exoteric. To experience the esoteric normally requires an informed and sustained effort over many years. Another name for the esoteric is the mystical. And it is mysticism that is the common thread to all of the world’s religions and spiritual traditions. On the surface, religions and spiritual practices are quite different, however, at their core they are all very much the same. The world’s mystical traditions vary somewhat in their focus and emphasis. Some may highlight surrender while others may highlight transformation and purification. But, they all follow the same basic progression and formula for reaching complete spiritual maturity–a state known as enlightenment.
Since, at the core, all mystical ways share a common vocabulary, only the representative examples from the major eastern and western paths have been used here. It has been tried hereinabove to describe these esoteric traditions and relevant modern thinking in broad terms and to offer a summary of their essential parts. Further, having touched upon key ideas and examples that point to the reality of spiritual experience, it has been intended to explain how one may practically apply some of these insights into one’s own life.
All the same, spirituality relates to the world beyond the surrounding material world. Different religions present different mythology pertaining to this so called spiritual world. Moreover, different religions present different theory, methodology and technique of spiritual science discussed in the respective mythologies. But, surprisingly, the effects and results obtained from these different methodologies and techniques are almost the same. This proves that spiritualism is not only infinite knowledge but it is multi-dimensional too.
Moreover, Soul or Spirit is though not at all a materialistic entity, but during its temporary stay in a materialistic body it has to support at top priority the materialistic functions (like eating, drinking, drenching, dissipating, working, earning, treating etc.) of the body lest the body should be no more and the soul should become houseless. Similarly, we may though be highly spiritualistic, but, during our stay on this earth, we should support at top priority the functions (all economic, political, social and cultural) of the materialistic world otherwise this materialistic world (our house) will become totally slashed whereby the whole humanity will come to its end. God in no way would like this end. God has created both the spiritualistic souls and the materialistic world. It is our prior duty to contribute towards the functioning of this world and the solution of its worldly problems. I honour respected spiritualists (saints), especially in India, for their achievements on spiritual front. But, very sad, their contribution to solve worldly problems remained not much more than the negligible.