What does “spirituality” mean and what are its functions in one’s life?
Aunt Margaret asked, “When did you get the notion that soul is merely an intellectual construct?”
I responded, “I took soul for granted until I thought about it.”
Aristotle and others, to whom we credit ‘soul,’ were commenting on prehistoric ideas or intellectual constructs. I doubt intellectual constructs and suspect intellectual constructs about intellectual constructs.
If one accepts that souls are not real, it follows that spiritualism is merely art--poetry. The idea of contact with spiritual beings seems poetic; religious considerations, for example, at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14229a.htm , seem poetic; the idea that there exists an immaterial reality that is beyond the reach of the senses seems poetic. Yet, poetry seems to promise many people comfort against the unknowns humans face.
Goals lead to planning. Career planning inspired me to think beyond career, toward life planning. My presentation ended with retirement and grandchildren. To follow my religious tradition, I might have included goals for afterdeath. However, even then I trusted my death: I did not control my “beforelife,” so why presume to control my afterdeath?
If one decides to set goals for life, it seems spiritualism offers nothing beyond tentative comfort in a distraction from what is. Yet, many people who call themselves “spiritual” offer peace and empathy. If good conduct is a consequence of spirituality, I appreciate spirituality for the resulting benefits.
I no longer think about soul. However, there are powers that help me. Denying that I am ‘spiritual,’ I try to think with secular terms: goals; motivation; inspiration; imagination; satisfaction; peace; acceptance; focus; faith in reality; energy. These terms seem neither spiritual nor material. So, what are they?
When there are other forces beyond my control, such as a loved one so ill they may die, I may drop to my knees and pray. But it is not spiritual conduct: it is cold, naked begging.