Is spirituality a lifestyle or a quest?

I have been pondering recently the difference between spirituality as a life style and spirituality as a quest. Consider the following Blavatsky quote (the modernized English is mine) from The Voice of the Silence, The Seven Portals:

Before you stand on the threshold of the path; before you cross the foremost Gate, you have to merge the two in the One and sacrifice the personal to SELF impersonal, and thus destroy the ‘path’ between the two – antaskarana.

You have to be prepared to answer Dharma, the stern law, whose voice will ask you at your first, your initial step:

“Have you complied with all the rules, you with your lofty hopes?”

“Have you attuned your heart and mind to the great mind and heart of mankind? For as the sacred River’s roaring voice whereby all Nature-sounds are echoed back, so must the heart of him ‘who in the stream would enter,’ thrill in response to every sigh and thought of all that lives and breathes.”

Compare such stern words with those who treat astrology or tarot as fun amusements – not to get to know themselves better, to become better people, to find their way in life.

On the other hand when such sentiments as the above are repeated too often, as they are in theosophical circles, what happens is the opposite. So much energy goes into talking about self sacrifice, in denying self, that sometimes something of normal liveliness is lost. Something dries out, because there is no step that can be ignored on the path.

And one of those steps is precisely the second half of this quote: a felt connection with humanity as a whole. That doesn’t start with knowing how badly many people in Africa need food, medicine and education. The real connection with humanity starts at home: the natural relationships we are in. Family, friends, colleagues… Ignoring your own and their humanness is the first step towards a kind cruelty. I say ‘kind cruelty’ because sometimes the smile is there, the words are right, but the essence has somehow fled.

As I’m pondering this, not at all sure I live up to the ideals I sketch here, I come back to the basic insight that is the conclusion of many of my ponderings: While on the path extremes are often found, they have to go, because in the end there’s a balance between the impersonal and the personal. There’s a balance to be found between feeling the needs of humanity as a whole and being there facing your own and others’ real needs in day to day life.

11 thoughts on “Is spirituality a lifestyle or a quest?”

  1. I hear what you’re saying with the kind cruelty. With family members working in the school system, I would hear story after story about kids being ignored at home…how truly traumatizing it is.

    A lot of these issues are being talked about during the Alchemy Conference in October in Los Angeles. I have been working with them for a while now. They have a strong emphasis on the positive transformation of the body, mind and spirit.

  2. ‘Love’ is important.
    ‘Purification’ is important.
    What again are some examples of ‘spirituality?’
    What is ‘spirit?’
    We call a horse spirited when its activity suggests it has more than the usual energy. That to me suggests that we believe that an important part of spirit is energy or an important part of energy is spirit or that perhaps they synonymous.
    We may say that that same horse has a lot of heart. Doesn’t that confuse things a bit.
    The definition of spirituality seems even more difficult than that of spirit.
    It would be helpful to me to know that our definitions were similar enough to make a communication significant.

  3. I am not sure if you implied a certain answer or not, but maybe there would be more than one quest.

  4. Hi Katinka,
    What a beautiful blog you have…
    full of wisdom..;)
    I think the real key is to be able to appreciate our individuality and yet know that we are all ONE.
    I’ll be back…
    Thanks for the inspiration this morning!

  5. I had been studying Buddhism for some while. Then a friend said to me , “Isn’t it time to practice.”
    Point taken.
    Spirituality is a lifestyle. though we need to accumulate the information to prepare us to live the lifestyle. A lot of people, however,(like I was doing) just continue to accumulate information rather than begin the practice.
    The “quest” is the goal at the end of the lifestyle.

    1. words are somteime should not be taken in literally sense as they denote cultural and religious differences rather than clearing meaning .in buddhism things r very clear like liberation from greed ,raga (all kind of worldy attachment)and dwesha(like anger ,hatred etc) and way for it .

  6. To me spirituality starts when the addiction and/or identification with ego is severed…Only then can”Spirit” enter..because you are no longer in the way, obstructing the free flow of it. One cannot “be” spiritual..It is a result of letting go

  7. identification actually obsruct our flowing nature of consciousness.very true .to me enjoying the moment not based on senses or not based on any fullfillment of desire gives me the complete freedom and effect of it in worldly life gives a sense of joy.this is the beautiful is diffficult for me to think spiritual life without observing YAMA ,NIYAMA in patanjali yoga or moral precept in buddism. in meditation does not gives fruitful result without it .otherwise only verbalisation or philosophy will take place instead of DARSHAN.

  8. very refreshing blog … beyond all the words, in spite of all the words … SOMETHING is speaking … our own inner voice.

    we’re waking up and being surprised
    to find reality’s been so disguised!


Comments are closed.