by Anita Alig
Whatever your religion or non-religion, as a human being you cannot pass through life without examining the importance of spirituality. Even if you end up rejecting the idea of the existence of a higher power, at some point in your life, you’ll still come to face fundamental questions about your spirituality. The way your parents think, whether they are believers or not, will contribute to your eventual stance.
While I love and value my personal spirituality, I know plenty of atheists who live happy lives and make an invaluable contribution to this world.
Perhaps, spirituality, as a friend of mine once told me, is a gift rather than something that is obtainable. She just doesn’t believe even though sometimes, she wishes she could. To her, the idea that a God exists doesn’t make sense. At the same time, she’s slightly envious when she sees how people like me find comfort and strength in their spirituality. Personally, I don’t know whether spirituality is something you can seek and find or whether it is a God-sent gift. All I know is that to me, the importance of spirituality cannot be overstated.
Looking at emotions and beyond
Apart from our real and tangible physical body, we’ve all got a plethora of emotions and thoughts. Many of them come up without a specific logic. In fact, both the human mind and the emotions are in many ways inexplicable. Over the years, psychologists may have explained certain aspects, however, most of us still don’t understand thoughts and feelings. So, there’s the first mystery. If you then cast your mind on the world, its creation and all the daily-occurring somewhat random events, the second major mystery pops up. So, now, you’re faced with two questions:
- Where do all my thoughts and emotions come from?
- How did the world come into being and how do personal and global events unfold?
If you’re a sceptic, you’re likely to put it all down to physics and coincident, many people do. Even people who were raised by spiritual parents may come to the conclusion that their personal and the world’s wider existence could not possibly be down to the direction of a higher being. But if you’ve come to embrace a system of faith, you’re likely to connect to a God. Regardless of the religion, you’ll come to adopt your religion’s moral code.
From then on, you’ll seek to follow the guidelines and benefit from the strength inherent in faith. You’ll leave the inexplicable to your higher power, everything from how the world was created to specific events in your life. As a believer, you’re no longer alone but can rely and call upon your God.
In contrast, atheists establish their own values and live by them as best they can. In times of crises, they rely on the support of others and their inner strength. Scientific knowledge goes toward answering fundamental questions about life, and mysteries take care the questions, scientists haven’t cracked yet.
These contrasting ways of life give you some idea of the importance of spirituality because they reflect the choice between believing or not to believing.
Crisis management and spirituality
Personally, I don’t know how I would have survived the difficult patches in my life if it weren’t for my spirituality. Friends and family provided stellar support, while my faith allowed me to let go of some of the pain and hand it over to my God. Prayer, meditation and raging against my God got me through many of life’s inevitable storms. Having said that, I’ve seen many people endure adversity without faith. Still, to me, my spirituality and the personal relationship I have with my God have been invaluable.
When it comes to the good times in my life – and there have been many – I was glad that I was able to express gratitude to my God. What’s more, my faith also allowed me to place myself and my loved ones into my God’s care. This saved me from a lot of worries and has continually given me a sense of protection and comfort.
Collective responsibility and spirituality
Beyond the personal, the importance of spirituality also emerges when it comes to society in the broadest sense. Every religion provides a moral code, a set of values. With the Christian principles, we’ve organised western society, while Islam, Buddhism and many other religions have shaped countless societies too. Sadly, religions have often pitched themselves against each other despite the fact that the majority of them promote love and peace.
Still, as a believer, I see it as my responsibility to live a life that won’t have a negative impact on anyone else. What’s more, I see the need to stand up for those who suffer and so do most people who cultivate their faith. In that sense, the importance of spirituality goes far beyond the personal, reaching the collective and shaping how we co-inhabit this planet.
The abuse of religious beliefs
Because of the power of spirituality, history has produced religious conflicts. People have engaged in violent actions in defence of their faith and abused its principles. Instead of respecting other beliefs lovingly, some believers rage against those who don’t share them. Obviously, the freedom of religion must be upheld and personal feelings kept in check, especially when it comes to religious disagreements.
No one knows the importance of spirituality
No one has a definite answer but I believe the focus should lie on love, the core of most types of spirituality. Love transcends the differences and provides a common ground. Respecting difference, we can cultivate a culture of love and make this world a better place. Love is the ultimate ‘no-brainer’, the one thing everyone needs, regardless of your religion or non-religion. No matter where you come from, you need love in your life.
So, these are my musings about the importance of spirituality. Please share yours. What, if any role does spirituality play in your life? How has it helped or hindered you? I would love to find out.