Spirituality is not often a locus of focus these modern days. Whereas it was front and center in Native American life and in ancient times, spirituality is nowadays much more relegated to third-class citizenry, if even that. To be sure, we’ve made such tremendous leaps and bounds in science and technology that much of the practical motivation has disappeared (no more rain dances to the weather gods necessary when you’ve got Monsanto, John Deere, GMO seeds, and GPS-guided tractors on the job) but putting that aside for a moment, it’s struck me as I’ve gotten older just how vacuous living daily life has become in spirituality’s absence.
Ask ten different people what spirituality is to them and you’ll receive at least eleven different answers. So I’ll just clarify what I mean when I discuss “spirituality.” To me, “spirituality stuff” is what you’ll find in the “New Age” religion section at any Barnes & Noble. It’s an attempt to explain (currently) unanswerable questions like, “What happens when you die?”; “How does Karma and resurrection work?”; and supernatural phenomena like visions, déjà vu, or lucid dreams. Often, these conversations will also involve phrases like “energy levels” and crystals/gem stones (very similar to the kind you’d find at Wall Drug). Meditation is also super-huge.
Honestly, I never knew anything about any of this but Bagel is really super into it. And thus, I’ve gotten really into it. I like it! To me, it’s extraordinarily arrogant to think that human beings, a species that doesn’t even fully understand gravity yet, can in good-faith “close the door” on all of the New Age spirituality stuff. Russell’s Teapot and Flying Spaghetti Monster are all in the realm of possibility, no matter how ludicrous they may at first sound. My general stance on all of this is thus: “Is it useful?” Once we leave mathematics and the hard sciences, it all just becomes unfalsifiable belief claims anyway. So why not believe what motivates and inspires you? The philosopher and founder of American Pragmatism, Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914) calls it “experiential cash value” and I think he’d agree with me.