What is Spirituality?

This excerpt on What is Spirituality?, is from Chapter 19, “The Great Mysteries,” from the book “Balanceology: The 4 M’s of motivation, meaning, measurement, mitigation.” By Al Johnson, PhD.

What is Spirituality?

 The journey I am on, the path I am following, though I have often not recognized it invariably involves spirituality —>the inner-workings and the inwardness dimension that makes for the individuality of a person. Unrecognized and unidentified because the defining of the word spirituality for me has been a daunting task. Speculative definitions arise depending on who is asked. How would you define spirituality? How would you define spirit? I maintain that no matter how spirituality or spirit is defined, it has become one more avenue in my attempts to be aware of and comprehend the nature of myself, and my deep yearning to bring real higher meaning to my life. In this chapter, I will describe how spirituality has entailed a process that embraces experiencing, being aware of, comprehending, and gaining knowledge of my inner being –—>myself. I will limn, delineate, and chronicle how spirituality invariably includes my endeavors to connect and belong with others. Along with literature, the arts, and myths I suggest spirituality is an additional passageway in my deep-seated desire to solve the mysterious, and in my search for meaning, truths and Truth. Spirituality surely involves experiencing truth(s), and maybe some experience of an Ultimate Truth that exists in the Universe.  In Chapter 21, I will present and detail higher meaning and Ultimate Truth.

Spiritual beings– I have discerned that a variety of definitions for spirituality (spirit) give significance to the physics and biology of breath, wind, and life. I insist that the breath of life inside of us is a spiritual principle. Poetically, metaphorically, and in actuality the spirituality of us surely pertains to and involves the breatheable part of us that sustains our life. I go on and assert that the concept of spirituality is nature-made, is innate, and is physically and biologically based. Full-stop! Roberts maintains that humans are a “physical-spiritual unity.” (1981) I propose that nature’s energy is connected to spiritual breath (wind) and together sustain life. Spirituality is about us, our life, our breath, our energy, our very essence. A hero of mine PierreTeilhard de Chardin announced, “we are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” (1955) I so agree with Soren Kierkegaard when he stated that, “Man is spirit. But what is spirit? Spirit is the self. But what is the self?” (1849) For me, this quote suggests that Kierkegaard is indicating that in knowing more about oneself, we are knowing more about our spirit. Fernandez-Armesto stated that, “the conviction that the Self is in some sense spiritual is remarkably resilient – considering how strange it seems by the cannons of common sense. There is no test for spirit; but the sense of it is too strong and widespread to be dismissed.” (2004)

Thus, I definitively state, proclaim and enthusiastically and terrifically announce that my-self is really another way of referring to my-spirit. My Self’s doppelganger is My Spirit <—>My Spirit’s poltergeist is My Self. I consider them to be equivalent and of the same substance. Period! I now include Self óSpirit in my naturalistic worldview. In the sense that my-self and my-spirit are the same thing and of the same substance, I consider that I am indeed a very spiritual person. Please stay with my reasoning on this. Do you understand that when I say I am a spiritual person I am trying to experience, to be aware of, learn about, try understand, and attempt to comprehend as much about myself, my inner world, my life, and the world around me as I can? Spirituality for me has become a process aimed at deeply knowing myself in a world of nature and in a world with other people.

Spirituality: AwakeningI have ascertained that the concept of spirituality is frequently associated with the word awakening. JohnSelby said there exists a need for “awakening the primal spiritual truths of human existence.” (2003) I postulate that a noteworthy part of my journey has been an awakening of myself to my life. I adamantly portend that spirituality is a critical part of my journey of awakening myself-to-myself. An awakening that can reset and anew a path towards self-evolutionary changes. A spirituality that is awakening surely is an evolutionary process that is inspirational and aspirational. I propose that awakening clearly has epigenetic and energetic connotations (more to come). Buddhism advocates that we become like the Buddha; the “awakened one.” Alcoholics Anonymous recommends and stresses its mem- bers have a spiritual awakening. I associate this breath of life awakeningas an inner dynamic energetic spiritual awakening to human nature, my collective inheritance, and my personal inheritance. To view spiri- tuality from this perspective becomes a matter of what I am really about, who I really am, what my true intentions really are, and relates to my authentic Self (more to come). Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio announced spirituality as “an organizing scheme behind a life that is well-balanced, well-tempered, and well-intended.” (2006) In later chapters, I explain how well-balance and supra-balance have a significant presence in Balanceology.

Importantly, my understanding of spirituality is not only a re-routing and inner-working path of awakening myself-to-myself, but is also a crucial path of awakening of spirit-to-spirit connections with others. Connection becomes a matter of my Self (my spirit) experiencing another Self (another spirit). Spirit-to-spirit awakening experiences evolve from the exclusive individuality of the Self (me), to the inclusive mutuality of belonging (we). Spirituality is a major way to cross the Prime Dualistic border and build relationships through attachment, affiliation, and connection. I go on and proclaim that self-awakening connects us with the collective human spirit from our trans-generational inheritance. Our 3,700,000,000 year old life-to-life connections are a direct route that connects us with our 13,700,000,000 year old Universe. Spirituality surely involves our search for deeper spiritual awakening experiences with the Universe that we are embedded in and is deep-seated in us. For Capra, “the experience of being connected with all of nature; of belonging to the universe, is the very essence of spirituality.” (2010)

Theory of Balanceology

I have been on a mission over the last many years to discover and build a world- view I can attest to and follow. The end result of my search is my book,Balanceology:  The 4 M’s of motivation, meaning, measurement,mitigation.  My autobiographical jour- ney evolved into a theory and practice. The Theory of Balanceology is the study of what it takes to live a life in balance and health. The centric idea of the theory comes from the time honored nature based concept of balance. The Big Idea and backbone of my theory is “Balance Is Everything.” The model theorizes that humans are motivated to satisfy our inherent needs (M-1), and thus add meaning to our life (M-2).  When a person is having personal and interpersonal problems an assessment and measurement (M-3) is made of the level of meeting needs and the current level of dysfunctional symptoms. Need satis- faction and current symptoms determine the degree a person is in-or-out of balance and health. Mitigation (M-4) involves building the personal and interpersonal skills it requires to better meet and satisfy our needs and thus lower unhealthy symptoms.

What follows is information related to the author. I also present a blurb that goes into greater detail concerning my theory and book.  For additional information related to my book, theory, and practice feel free to visit Balanceology.net and/or Balanceology.blog. The author welcomes guest posts on his website and blog.

The Author

Al Wm Johnson holds a PhD in behavioral health counseling from the University of North Dakota.  Dr. Johnson is a professionally licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) and a licensed clinical addiction counselor (LCAC).  He has over twelve years work experience at various educational levels and settings. Dr. Johnson has many years of direct clinical experience with clients and patients.  He has twenty-five years of experience in man- aging various behavioral health programs in outpatient, partial hospitalization, residential, and psychiatric inpatient settings.

Dr. Johnson’s areas of expertise are in mental and behavioral health treatment, addictive and compulsive behaviors, and the components that provide for a quality education. He has interests in writing, consultation, training, and the presentation of interactive workshops. Over the last 15-20 years, Dr. Johnson has increasingly developed a fascination with the study of the history, philosophy, psychology and a spirituality that emanates from the natural world.  He has a profound respect for the brilliance of Nature, and in understanding the complexities of human nature.  Dr. Johnson has devoted efforts to explore and get a better understanding of his experiences emerging from Nature, human nature, and his own nature. His energy has focused on building a theoretical naturalistic needs-based model that inspires hope. That is, a therapeutic practical model aimed at developing the personal and interpersonal change factors it requires for self-evolutionary growth and balance-centered living.

Blurb About the Book

Balance is Everything!

INTRO: I was in my mid-twenties and I was spiritually adrift.  In a world capable of endless pain and suffering my childhood taught worldview was collapsing.  On a grief-stricken planet my supernatural based truths no longer had meaning. My heart was troubled, bewildered, and empty.  I had lost my way and my life was hanging in the balance.

MAIN THEME:  I required a new path forward and a new way to view the world. The impetus for my investigative journey only came after I understood Rene Descartes’ advice that, “at least once in your life you doubt as far as possible all things,” and a Shakesperean line, “what is past is prologue.” I challenged myself by asking, “am I going to allow myself to remain imprisoned to childhood conditioning?”  My answer was “no.” I mustered up the courage to dare-to-doubt and to embark on a heavy-hearted out-of-sorrow mission to discover Who am I?, What am I?, and my place in the world. I sought a worldview that could repeal-and-replace an outdated worldview based on fear and superstition. I desired a worldview storyline that could reasonably bring order out of disorder, encompass a beginning of time <—>an ending of time, accommodate living <—>accommodate dying, and could give me some understanding of why so much pain and suffering exists in our world.

CONTENT:  My tour de force journey entailed unrelenting years of research, study, and reflection. My initially self-focused autobiographical sojourner journey evolved into the Theory of Balanceology—-> the study of living a balance-centered life. My new worldview theoretical position endorses the time-honored physiological, biological, psycho-logical, and philosophical insight that Nature always seeks balance. Balance became my centerpiece idea that the world has natural patterns of order that aim to be maintained, and natural patterns of human inborn needs that aim to be satisfied, and together can bring stability, harmony, and contentment to one’s life.  This writing’s content endeavors to present, define, detail, and defend a theoretical and therapeutic worldview proposition advocating for the Big Idea that “Balance is Everything:”  i. e. a life-in-balance is one living-in-balance.

AUDIENCE:  This worldview paradigm gravitates towards those readers who are spiritually, philosophically, and psychologically inclined and can imagine the existence of worldviews beyond their own. It is directed at those curious individuals not of- fended by alternative worldviews, but actually seek to learn about nontraditional and even controversial ways to view the world. It is aimed at those adventurous truth-seekers disposed to ponder lives many paradoxes, fearlessly question absolutes, and possess a healthy skepticism + open-mindedness.  I admire those courageous people unconcerned about being politically correct or living by social expectations. This writing is steered towards those readers who actively desire having an emotional, psychological, spiritual, and ethical “workout.”  This unconventional and nonconformist model heavily criticizes certain cultural and religious sacred cows, and because of that I have prepared myself for an assured retaliation and heated backlash from some readers.

BENEFITS:  What will the reader gain by reading this writing?

  • The reader is presented with a nontraditional theoretical and therapeutic paradigm to view the world.
  • The reader is challenged to review your current ideas, values, beliefs, and worldview.
  • The reader is encouraged to initiate your own investigative journey, and to construct a worldview that has meaning for you.
  • The reader is given a textbook of educational content that transition into a workbook of experiential exercises.
  • The reader is invited to adapt ideas from this writing that make sense to you , but not to completely adopt them –>i e. create your own ideas and build a worldview that works for you.