This Is What Spirituality Really Means, Because It’s More Than Just Self-Help

The word “spirituality” gets thrown around a lot these days.

What is spirituality? You may have wondered, What does it even mean?

Spirituality is such a vague term. It can mean everything and nothing at the same time.

For some, it is self-help. For some, it is life advice. For some, it is rituals. (And for some, mumbo-jumbo.)

Out of curiosity, I searched for spirituality blogs on Google. I found Zen Habits and Tiny Buddha on a couple lists, surprisingly.

Tiny Buddha and Zen Habits are spirituality blogs? This just proves how the word “spirituality” is misunderstood today.

Zen Habits teaches meditation and productivity. Tiny Buddha gives life advice. As good as they are, they are both pure self-help blogs. They have nothing to do with spirituality.

Why?

Because spirituality is not just self-help. Spirituality is much deeper and more complex than that.

As a rule of thumb, for something to be spiritual, it must be a combination of self-help and mysticism.

You already know what self-help is. So, let’s talk about mysticism next.

Read on.

What a Holy Book Without Holiness Looks Like

By mysticism, I mean supernatural beliefs, things that cannot be explained nor proven by science. For example, God, heaven, hell, enlightenment, Buddhahood and Karma.

Why do you need mysticism?

You’ll know why after you read the experiment below. Here, I am going to actually remove all mysticism-related words from the Bible, and see what happens.

My prediction? The Bible would become nothing but a story book of parables, or a self-help book written in story form.

Here is the original Psalm 1:

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Beautiful verses about the Christian God and his law. Now, let’s look at the mysticism-free version of this psalm:

Fortunate is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the bad, nor standeth in the way of evil, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law; and in the law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The bad are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

Therefore the bad shall not stand in court, nor evil in the congregation of the righteous.

The way of the righteous is known to be good: but the way of the bad shall perish.

Do you see how ridiculously profane it becomes? Also, it reads like old-fashioned self-help, almost like Greek philosophy. I doubt anyone would call this passage spiritual.

What about Buddhism? If you take “The Emptiness Doctrine”, “Dhjana”, “Prajñāpāramitā” and “Enlightenment” and replace them with “Non-Duality”, “Concentration”, “Wisdom” and “Sophistication”, you get the same results.

Attention: Spirituality Is Not Self-Help

You say, “Well, some people don’t believe in this supernatural crap, and they still practice spirituality.”

I am sorry, but that’s not spirituality. You cannot have spirituality without faith in the supernatural. That’s self-help, or philosophy at best.

People who practice “secular spirituality” invariably invent their own mysticism. You sure have heard terms like “Universe”, “Higher Consciousness”, “Energy Vibration” and “Manifesting”. Do they not sound supernatural to you?

Science can’t prove that the Universe will manifest your thoughts. Science can’t prove the existence of a higher consciousness. Science can’t prove that there is vibrating life energy inside your body. (Maybe some pseudo-science does, I don’t know.)

Whether you have noticed or not, “secular spirituality” is still filled with mysticism. None of it is backed by scientific facts. You need to actually believe it for it to work. Sounds supernatural enough to me.

What Makes Spirituality Better Than Self-Help

This belief in the supernatural is not random. It is there for a reason.

Do you see how everything sounds way cooler with mysticism?

When you sit down and breathe, you are not only doing a mental exercise. You are meditating.

When you are doing volunteer work and giving to the poor, you are not just helping people. You are doing God’s work.

When you curb your desires, control your actions and practice self-awareness, you are not only doing self-improvement. You are exercising Godliness. You are working toward enlightenment.

Mysticism gives all these self-help exercises a bigger purpose. It makes it a spiritual practice, a holy mission.

With mysticism, self-help becomes the way to ultimate satisfaction. You are not only serving yourself anymore. You are connecting with the universe, training yourself to Buddhahood, and getting closer to God.

Without mysticism, even meditation would become just a mundane form of mental exercise. Sort of like stretching and lifting for the brain.

Actually, I’m not even sure it would even be called meditation anymore. Honestly, what is so “meditative” about sitting down and focusing on your breath? It’s just a fancy name for a mental exercise. Might as well call it “counting breaths” or “mental focus training”.

Blossoming in the World Beyond

Believing in the supernatural sounds dumb.

It’s not. It is because of this belief, spiritual people are stronger, more motivated and more confident than your average Joe. They are ready to dedicate their lives to fulfill their inner purpose, and fight for the good of humanity.

Besides, to many people, spirituality is the only way out in a hopeless situation.

It is the only way to restore health when drugs and medication don’t work. It is the only way to get money when you can’t to find money to pay your debtor. It is the only way to be peaceful when you have to face death alone.

After studying religions for such a long time, I am beginning to think that religion is the answer to life. While most of religions are not perfect and have their blind spots, they give our otherwise meaningless lives a meaning, a higher purpose, and a direction, to ultimately discover the truth within ourselves.

I practice spirituality, not self-help. So I do believe in the supernatural. I believe there are different worlds. I believe we can only reach enlightenment in the afterlife. I believe an unseen force is governing the world we live in.

I believe my journey to the truth is a spiritual one, and until it ends, I am not going to give up my faith. In the end, it is this faith that prompts me to explore inwardly, deep inside my body, my mind, my heart, and my soul. No self-improvement tips can ever do this.

I am not telling you to believe in the supernatural. Believe whatever you want to. But in my opinion, spirituality is a superior alternative to pure, secular self-help. Spirituality is self-help in the highest form.

Spirituality is humbling. It opens your eyes to something more powerful than you are.

Join me on my spiritual path. Let our minds and souls blossom in this life, and in the world beyond.

What To Do Next

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4 Comments

  1. Robert says

    Hi Blon,

    I wasn’t sure where this post was bringing me, but you got my attention with these words –
    I believe we can only reach enlightenment in the afterlife – ,which brought me to my own truth about life and the world we live in.
    I believe in this life we are guided by the energy of life and it is a spiritual one deep inside me which gives me faith to be strong.

    Thanks

    • Blon Lee says

      Thanks Robert. With this post, I’m just trying to state my take on what spirituality means. I’ll admit, I am not being very clear. Glad you hear you resonated with some of it. I guess I’ll try to write a better one in the future.

  2. Robert says

    Blon,

    Your message was clear, but it had to take me up to the end.
    As long as you follow the truth in your writing and touch your readers
    you are on the right path to inspire all of us.

    • Blon Lee says

      Honestly, I was a little disappointed with this post. Hearing this makes me feel much better. Thanks Robert, I’ll keep following my heart and let it all out.

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