Knowing where you stand can lead you to a happy life, filled with fun and adventure. Not knowing where you stand… Well, confusion and paranoia are two things that come to mind. This is why I am writing down what observation and experience have taught me about spirituality. For some people spirituality only means one thing, religion. To others it is anything to do with god, or gods. (Gods are generally believed to be superbeings who live outside of the world and possibly outside of the universe. They are believed to have power over the fates of individuals and or groups of people. Gods are believed to be creators of the universe.) Others think of it as talking about an eternal spirit within you. My personal definition of spirituality is the state of being wherein feeling and understanding can go and often do go beyond the realm of sensory perception, with particular attention to the interconnectedness of all living beings, and encompasses both religious and non-religious beings. In other words, I believe that all life is connected, no matter its size, shape, colour, place of birth, or level of intelligence, if any. Every life matters, because we are all alive. When we look at the world through the eyes of science, we find there are three natural states of matter: solids that do not change their shapes if left alone; liquids that can change their shape but not their volume; and gases that can change their shape and their volume to fill whatever container they are in, including invisible containers made by exerting pressures on the gases. For example, water is the most common substance on earth, and it naturally occurs in all three states of matter. As a solid we call it ice, as a liquid we call it water, and as a gas we call it water vapour. This is knowable through science. Now comes the kicker, the giant leap from the scientifically knowable to the scientifically unknowable, spirituality. Spirituality cannot be measured, nor can it be forced to be a solid, or liquid, or gas. Yet, despite the limitations of science, spirituality can be observed and experienced as if it were matter. The three natural states of spirituality are: exclusionary group, equivalent to a solid; individual exclusionary, which acts like a liquid, and universal inclusive, which acts like a gas. Every human being on earth is capable of existing in any of these three states, just as water exists in any of its three states. Water, though, can only change states by outside forces. And, while humans can be changed by outside forces, they can also change themselves by inner forces.
I have observed that most humans start out at birth in the spiritual state of the exclusionary group. They are taught by their parents (or guardians) to have the same religion or spirituality as their parents (or guardians). All religions and religious philosophies exist in a solid state. There is a core group of people that remain together keeping faith in the same beliefs as their parents did. As long as the child remains faithful to those same beliefs, it becomes part of the exclusionary group, which protects itself by excluding people of different faiths and traditions. Hinduism, Judaism, Catholic Christianity, Islam, Protestant Christianity, Taoism, Shinto, and Falun Gong are all religions (or religious philosophies) that count their memberships in the millions of believers. There is some cross-over and/or amalgamation on a minor scale, but not enough to take note of here. The change from one religion to another usually happens without a person excluding himself or herself from having some kind of religious faith. Group strength is derived from the number of its adherents.
But there are people who do exclude themselves from exclusionary groups, and choose either to live on the outside, either while looking for a new religion to replace their old one, or trying to decide if any religion is worthy of their membership. These people are called agnostics, not necessarily believing in a god, but not ready to state there is no god for them to believe in. Also in this state are non-believers in any god, called Atheists. There are no set beliefs for Atheists, they can each think for themselves if life has a meaning, or if life stops when a being dies. They can live peacefully on the outside of exclusionary groups, or on the inside of such groups trying to create as much chaos as possible. Some atheists can be seen to be god-deniers, as instead of living their lives as contributors to the global community or the universal community, they seem to live their lives attempting to prove that gods cannot exist, and that religious books are full of mistakes, contradictions, and sometimes outright nonsense. How they would react if proof of gods were suddenly found it is impossible to know. Their strength comes mostly from within, but weaknesses are present from the outsides.
Members of the third state of spirituality, which I have named universal inclusive, are still rare, but their numbers are slowly growing. Most are Atheist, but some can belong to exclusionary groups and combine their religious beliefs with their universal beliefs. Again, there is no set belief system, but there is the feeling that they are part of a universal community with all intelligent beings, if not all living beings. They see no need to spend their time debating the existence or non-existence of gods, but rather they use their lives to protect the weak from the powerful, to aid the sick and dying, to help people with addictions put their lives back together and become healthy citizens of the universe again, if they ever were. (A lot of people, such as myself, were so abused as children, whether mentally, physically, or sexually, that they never had the opportunity to be healthy. These are the people who need extra care, and a universal inclusive will work extra hard to help them heal. Meanwhile, beings in this spiritual state can find friends in any state of spirituality, because they realize that they all are on a journey called life, and no matter how long or short that journey is, there is not enough time for fighting. World peace, having enough healthy food and clean water to survive, not having to fear that someone is going to kill or maim them for no reason other than they look or think or speak differently, these can all be goals of the universal inclusive. My personal feeling is that they should be the goals of all living beings.
As an adjunct to this posting I would like to take a look at anthrpocentrism, which is just a big word that means human beings see themselves as the most important species on the planet, the species with the highest form of intelligence. Certainly humans have changed the world more than any other species of being alive today, but this is not a sign of being the most intelligent species. We humans are definitely the most mobile species, according to scientists who assert that the ancestors of humans started out from a valley in Africa, and are now found on every continent in the world. Our numbers rival that of many species, but bacteria and viruses outnumber us by the millions, if not billions or trillions. No, I don’t think that viruses or bacteria are necessarily intelligent, but they certainly go everywhere people go, and they show enough intelligence in relation to their size to hitchhike rides to all the places people go. Intelligence is not only human intelligence, but since that is the only intelligence we know of, not including what scientists tell us, that it is easy to think we are the only one who can control what we are doing just by thinking about it. But there is no intelligence involved in keeping us breathing, or wanting to eat, or wanting to propagate our species, every species on earth has those same instincts, or directives. They are a part of life, of all forms of life. Do you think there might be the connection? [Meanwhile, if you are interested, you can find a list (not verified) of the 25 most intelligent animals in the world at