Functional Meaning of Spirituality

When we ask “What is the functional meaning of spirituality?” we mean by this what is its meaning with regards to its function or use for us.

Etymological Meaning

Basically spirituality is the quality of one’s sensitivity to the things of the spirit. This definition makes spirituality encompass everything that we cannot see directly with our eyes, directly perceive by the other senses and know by our mere reason. That is the basic meaning of spirituality, a little more than its etymological meaning, the meaning from its root word “spirit”.

The Meaning of Spirituality from Different Perspectives

Spirituality has a meaning beyond the etymological. It can have a theological meaning, from the perspective of those studying theology or the science about God. It can also have a psychological meaning, from the perspective of those who deal with the workings of our inner psyche. Perhaps this is the most popular meaning of spirituality, a look into the inner workings of our conscious, subconscious and preconscious life. Lately spirituality has been viewed from a biological perspective, by men and women who study plants and animals in general.

Functional Meaning

It can also have a functional meaning, or as some would have it, an operational meaning.

Briefly stated, the functional meaning of spirituality is that it is an attitude whereby we view and consider things from the perspective of the invisible realities which guide our daily activities in all facets of our life.

Viewed from this perspective spirituality is first an attitude, a state of mind or a feeling, a disposition, an outlook on life. This outlook on life is a product of different factors in our life—the genetic code we inherited from our parents, the upbringing we went through, the education we had, the challenges and problems we were exposed to in our life.

Very crucial to this meaning is the phrase “from the perspective of the invisible realities”. All of us, whether religious or atheists, realists or idealists, agnostic or believers, do behave according to realities which are invisible. All of us have ideas which control or influence our lives, and these ideas are invisible, they partake of spiritual qualities.

Another important phrase in our functional meaning is “in all facets of our life”. Perhaps this is what makes spirituality different from religion. Religion traditionally has been concerned with the sacred, with the things of God. And life for most of us has been dichotomized into the sacred and the profane. When we go to a church service, it is a sacred activity. But when we go to our place of employment it is a secular activity.

Spirituality does not recognize such dichotomy. All of life is colored by the spiritual, even if we are atheists or agnostics. The reason is because even these have to reckon with invisible realities, like the ideas in their head, the feelings in their heart, the joys and griefs in their relationships.

The more a person conducts his/her life according to these invisible realities, the more spiritual he/she is. The less he/she takes into consideration these invisible realities, to that extent he/she is less spiritual.

We have now a functional definition of spirituality, how it operates and what it does. It enables us to have this attitude whereby we view things from the perspective of invisible realities. Or as Raja Deekshithar said, “Spirituality makes that what is invisible and hidden within us to become visible.”

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