Sometimes you read something that hits so close to home, you just have to share.
One of my fave authors, Elizabeth Gilbert, posted this on her Facebook page. Her views on spirituality and religion mirror my own, and I wanted to re-post some of her words here (full post can be found on her Facebook page), as an homage to her beautiful heart and mind.
Thanks, EG. You rock.
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“When you Google “Spiritual Person”, sure enough, up comes this imagine, which I have posted below. Here we have the iconic image of the pristine and calm and perfectly balanced and totally healthy, fresh from her latest juice fast, meditating on the edge of an infinity pool – like nobody in history ever did, EVER.
Why is that perfect spiritual lady always depicted meditating on the edge on an infinity pool in absolute serenity, I wonder?
(No, I’m wrong – to be fair, that perfect yoga lady isn’t always depicted meditating on the edge of an infinity pool; sometimes she’s sitting on a bolder at the top of a mountain, and sometimes she’s sitting on a beach at sunset…but she is always shown in a state of graceful meditation, and she’s always thin and lovely, and you know she has a super hot vegetarian boyfriend, and her back doesn’t hurt, and she has never taken antidepressants or farted.)
I don’t recognize that person. By which I mean – I’ve never met her.
Because that person in that picture doesn’t exist. She is an icon – a holy relic, painted by our imaginations. (I don’t mean that the model is not real, by the way; the model is an absolutely real human being with failings and desires and suffering and hope. I mean that the picture is not real.)
The spiritual icon in this picture has never had too much wine. She’s never dropped an f-bomb at the wrong moment. She’s never said something regretful on Twitter. She’s never lost her temper. She’s never acted like a total asshole. She’s never been over-sensitive to criticism. She’s never woken up ashamed at how much she gossiped the night before about a good friend. She’s never judged anyone, she’s never attacked herself, she’s never cried in the middle of the night for no reason, she’s never failed horribly, she’s never let herself down. She’s never stopped to eat McDonald’s on her way home from the health food store (I have!). And she’s damn sure she never tried to sing “Dead or Alive” at karaoke and realized half way through the sing that she actually can’t sing “Dead or Alive” – but then decided to keep singing it anyway, EVEN LOUDER.
Yes, this lady at the edge of the infinity pool is what we think of, I guess, when we think of a “spiritual person.”
But that’s not what I believe a spiritual person is. I believe a spiritual person is somebody who is aware of a larger divinity in the universe (a source of power that operates behind and beyond all that we can see) and who wants to get as close to that divine source as possible.
I think sometimes people get mad at me for doing “a spiritual person” wrong, because they have me mistaken for “a religious person.” They believe that when I curse or drink wine that I am violating the code of conduct appropriate for a religious person – particularly for a prominent religious person, which (weirdly) people sometimes believe I am supposed to be.
But a spiritual person is not the same as a religious person.
Religion is about following certain rules regarding God; spirituality is about longing for certain experiences with God.
Religion is a way that you must behave; spirituality is a way that you long to feel.
Religion is how we talk to God. Spirituality is how we listen.
I myself have never been able to become a religious person, though, because I have not yet found the religious community whose formal rules and beliefs I can completely embrace – and yet I do believe in God, and I believe in majesty, and I believe in miracles, and I believe in our highest possible humanity, and I believe in transcendence, and I believe that my soul has meaning (and I believe that YOUR soul has meaning), and I believe in eternity…and I want to feel all those things in my life as much as possible.
So I pursue – as much as I can – the experiences that will bring me those spiritual sensations.
For the most part, I have not been able to find those sensations while sitting on the edge of an infinity pool in the lotus pose – but if you can find it there, awesome!
I have, however, sometimes felt sensations of spiritual transcendence while sitting in bars, or in bus stations, or in hospital rooms.
I have felt it when I see a friend being brave.
I have felt it when I am forgiven, even though maybe I didn’t deserve forgiveness.
“Spiritual” is not how you talk, or what you eat, or what sort of yoga you practice, or what sort of music you listen to, or how much you weigh, or whether or not you want Botox, or whether you drink red wine or kombucha.
“Spiritual” is believing in the innate divinity of every moment – and believing in the innate divinity of every moment is not something you can do WRONG. All you have to do is step off the edge of the infinity pool, and dive into the REAL infinity pool…which is all around us, sometimes within reach, sometimes out of reach.
I think sometimes people get frustrated with the term “spirituality” because they think it’s too wishy-washy. They think you’re lazy. They think you’re undisciplined. They think you’re unfaithful.
Don’t worry about it.
They don’t know.
They don’t know that there’s nothing lazy whatsoever about this path.
They don’t know that what you’re looking for is nothing less than EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE and ALWAYS.
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4 thoughts on “What is a Spiritual Person (Re-post from Elizabeth Gilbert)”
Many times I feel that something is acting upon me which I can not see, feel or hear. But it lifts me as if there is no gravity, nothing beneath me. Thank you so much for sharing this.
I love this!
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