Finding Meaning in Spirituality
I guess at some time in their lives most people ask themselves questions like: "why am I here?", "what's the meaning of life?", "what happens to me after I die?" etc etc.
One day, when I was about 15, I became acutely aware not just of my own mortality but also the futility of the entire universe slowly but surely winding down towards its own heat death. Maybe I was taking science too seriously, but the whole idea depressed me and shook the very optimism that someone just starting life's journey needs in abundance.
In my case it was the discovery of a spiritual perspective that caused my depression to subside and allowed me to progress with a (hopefully) purposeful life.
It's not the purpose of this article to preach any particular belief. None of us can know for sure whether any "God" exists, never mind what His/its nature might be. But from my own experience I have found that seeking your own personal answers to the "big" questions leads to a more satisfying approach to the minutiae of daily existence.
As we look around the world at the amount of slaughter taking place in the name of "religion" anyone could be forgiven for having nothing to do with the concept. The founders of the world's major faiths would be horrified at how their teachings have been distorted to cause so much harm.
But for many, "conventional" religion continues to provide both a moral framework and a sense of community.
A few years ago the British Humanist Association sponsored a controversial advertising campaign that put slogans on buses saying: "THERE'S PROBABLY NO GOD. NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE." This is a perfectly valid take on the question of spirituality, and one which allows the adopter to get on with their life unencumbered with concerns about anything beyond their finite material existence.
In my case I found that considering the transience of human life, and the entire physical universe, against the backdrop of something non-physical and infinite gave a meaning that didn't otherwise exist. My view is more than wishful thinking, which would probably do me no good at all. I reached it on consideration of available evidence, eg:
- Scientific quantum physics, the best available theory of the material universe, suggests nature contains an inherent and impenetrable uncertainty, ie there is a hidden realm of which we can have no knowledge.
- Parapsychology, the laboratory study of supernormal powers has produced a wealth of evidence that some people have abilities that exceed the laws of nature.
- Throughout history and across cultures mankind accounts of paranormal/anomalous phenomena abound.
- A number of personal unusual experiences, described in more detail in Some Personal Psychic Experiences and their Implications.
- Our unquestionable capacity for free will defies materialist / deterministic explanation.
I have been a Spiritualist for over 20 years and regularly attend Spiritualist services at which mediums give evidence of personal survival with what appears to be consistently greater than average accuracy. Regardless of what is actually being demonstrated I find attending Spiritualist meetings both therapeutic and reassuring.
As a result I view the world in a particular way that adds meaning to my life. By considering this life as part of something bigger I am more immune to its frequent ups and downs. Material outcomes are ultimately insignificant. That's not to say we shouldn't make an effort, indeed we should try our very best, but what really matters is the experience we gain.
My purpose here isn't to promote spiritualism or any other belief system. It's like we're hard-wired to question our place in the greater scheme of things, and until we do we may feel an unscratched intellectual itch. Many roads lead to Rome and what's important is finding the right philosophical base for you. If the glove fits, wear it.