What is spiritual?

A Zen master visiting New York City goes up to a hot dog vendor and says, “Make me one with everything.”
The hot dog vendor fixes a hot dog and hands it to the Zen master, who pays with a $20 bill.
The vendor puts the bill in the cash box and closes it. “Excuse me, but where’s my change?” asks the Zen master.
The vendor responds, “Change must come from within.”

from the Ultra Spiritual with JP videos on YouTube

I posted a joke announcement about some Mindful and Meaningful hikes that I will be guiding. 

Based on the feedback, it seems that perhaps it is not too much of a joke. There seems to be call for this type of guiding.   And sometimes what I think is a joke has a real life analogue! 

I have missed my calling. Cater a lunch, make some psuedo-New Age mumbo jumbo and platitudes, and walk in a deliberate manner and seems like I could make bank. 🙂

Perhaps under the influence of cold medicine I’ve been taken all week, I started to ponder: So, what exactly is spiritual?

The ever handy Wiktionary gives a succint definition:

  1. 1.
    relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.

I find this definition amusing in the area where I live.

It seems that the rituals, the accouterments, and the items bought for spiritual practices are more important than being spiritual itself.  The physical aspects of being spiritual trump the internal aspects.


So paying several hundred dollars to be spiritual does not seem so far-fetched.  As with buying lots of gear to show your outdoor cred, seems paying a lot of money for spiritual practices establishes, well, your spirituality.

Maybe it is my East Coast cynicism or some blue collar practicality that will never leave me, but this seems like a crock of, er something. The trappings of spirituality being more important than being spiritual itself? Hmm…

So, what is spirituality in these modern times?

As a 1st-century Jewish mystic said:

Let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth

In other words, living a spiritual life means paying attention to what is inside and how you act upon it.

It is not the ritual or knickknacks bought.

Being thoughtful, paying attention to less tangible things as opposed to material goods, and realizing that there is more to life than just your needs seems to this ex-Catholic a more sincere form of spirituality than purchasing a $2000 crystal bed. 

I find my spiritual needs met in the outdoors.

It may be different for you.

Take a walk, enjoy the outdoors, sit quietly in your living room while drinking some tea, or garden for many hours.

If you still need a set service or tchotchkes to establish your spirituality, well…maybe I should make my guiding service a reality after all. 🙂

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Gary Stell
Gary Stell
7 years ago

You may have something there. I like the musings of the 1st century Jewish guy! Happy Trails

Jeremy Werlin
Jeremy Werlin
6 years ago

Amen to that.

Clint Williams
Clint Williams
6 years ago

Maybe if we as humans recognized nature more for its spiritual worth and not its material worth, then we wouldn’t have our government turning over wilderness areas to be consumed for what amounts to temporary monetary gain.

Don’t think too much on it, you’ll get a headache.