Does spirituality have a definition?  

I don't think at this point in time it actually does (not anything set in stone anyway).

Why is that?  There are so many theories that bring up what it 'could be' but not often do we understand what it actually is.  Is this because spirituality is entirely subjective?  Does spirituality have to do with religion or the self?  Are there levels to spirituality and who defines them?
Is the monk that spends all his time in prayer more spiritual than the man or woman who acts and stays within his moral beliefs and understanding of self?  Is the man or woman who meditates a spiritual person, what about the church goer that holds strict code to dogmas or memes?  What of the person without spirituality, are they still spiritual in a sense of ignoring it's possibilities?

Can spirituality be defined by what a person does or what a person is or is it something bigger than the person and their mind?

I'm sure everyone can come up with an opinion on what spirituality is... some don't know what it is and can only express a feeling, some can't put 'spirituality' into words either, it's just something they know.

Here's a disturbing find... I typed "What is spirituality" into Google search, and the top definition that came up was from Princeton's definition: "spirituality: property or income owned by a church"... interesting

I like what commentary Dr. Colliford had to say, that "It is not ideal to consider sprituality as a thing, an object. It does not have the nature of a specimen that can be dissected and analysed. Spirituality is better thought of as a boundary-less dimension of human experience. As such, it must be admitted, it is not open to the normal methodologies of scientific investigation. It cannot completely be defined. It cannot be pinned down. So... What are we to do?"

No need for a response if it's difficult to articulate, but it's always worth a really good think session.

I'm sure it's easier to accumulate thoughts of what isn't spirituality..

but what is spirituality to you?

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I take the simple approach.  To me, spirituality is the underlying quality of everything, the how and what we think &/or believe about the non-physical life force that animates and innervates all life forms, including the Earth and the rest of the Universe.  To me it only has to do with religion in so far as religion is how most people relate to and learn about spirituality.  As humans dealing with it in a way to make it practical and accessible in our daily lives, it necessarily incorporates various streams of thought from ethics to the study of consciousness, and it is the mainstay of the religions of the world, but in it's pure essence it is Life.  It is the quality of, the belief in, &/or the study of and the struggle to understand and comprehend Spirit, which manifests in probably an infinite number of ways through out the cosmos.   To me, all the rest is just an exercise in trying to quantify and categorize the idea of it.

I like that. Nice and simple. <G>

Many thanks Deb and everyone else.

Would it be proper to interpret Spirituality as:

Spirituality is the mankind's quest to understand the underlying information behind the observable phenomena.

*that* I really like.

what is weird is the insight into Modern Science Research. "Information" is ultimately what modern Science/Physics is about.

I could almost hear Dr Mermin discussing QM and saying

"Quantum Mechanics is a technique to understand the underlying information behind observable phenomena."

(he has basically said that already)

that looks like it got "pulled" from somewhere....  source? Google couldn't find it.

If that is your own I am impressed!!  cool.

Thanks John. I am glad you liked it.

I had never heard of Dr. Mermin. So I did not borrow the quote from him. But the words came after a re-reading of all the responses yesterday.

However, it is difficult to claim ownership of a thought and the words that communicate those thoughts.

Due to cultural differences, western mind is generally conditioned to make a distinction between science and spirituality. But Indian thought system never made such distinction and considered science as a valid means to acquire knowledge. Chapter 7 of the most popular spiritual text, the Bhagvad Gita, deals with Vigyan Yoga (Vigyan being Sanskrit word for science).

hi -

You did an excellent synthesis/summary sentence.
I need to reread Chapter 7 of the Gita.

Dr. Mermin never said it either <g> He has argued that QM talks about correlations (information between things) and can say nothing about what is being correlated (what particles are). So information is real, but particles we canot say anything about (from QM alone).
He said "Correlations are real, the Correlata are not"
i.e. the information is Known, and that is what the deeper study/interpretation of QM is really about.

In searching for Mermin's original quote I stumbled upon this paper:
"The Pondicherry interpretation of quantum mechanics,
Ulrich Mohrhoff, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 605002, India"

The Pondicherry interpretation of quantum mechanics

(PDF) The Pondicherry interpretation of quantum mechanics

the author published the ideas in the American Journal of Physics (peer-reviewed). see




The whole discussions of these types of statements has been officially buried under the term "Counterfactual Definiteness."  Scientists do this so they know exactly what a fuzzy idea covers. The idea itself is still fuzzy, kind of.

Wikipedia is a good place to start.


Wiki Interpretations of quantum mechanics

For Counterfactual Definiteness see:

Wiki Counterfactual Definiteness


I have been accused of throwing these things out for dubious reasons. I explained to some people I put them in because I am trying to cover a wide range of possible readers for both now and in the future, It is supposed to cover people in various audiences:

1) The simplified gist of the article(s) exists in the first couple sentences/abstract and the last couple of sentences/conclusion. (for the major audience). The stuff I mention in posts is also mainstream physics.

2) the Intro Physics, or college Senior as well, may get interested in the topic and study some more physics.

3) the Intro Physics, or college senior as well, may understand better the subtleties in the article. It maintains the rigor of the post.

4) the reference for my thinking are well-documented for people down the road who stumble on the topic in Theosophy Network.

5) it may slowly permeate thinking and "offset" some of the junk-science thinking out there.

6) various other people whom I haven't realized exist or covered in the above.

just fyi

Wow!  Thanks for the references.  It may take me a while to digest that Pondicherry article, but I'm excited to see it.  

Even as a child, I think internally I rebelled at the idea that science and spirituality were at opposite ends of the spectrum.   I was too young to articulate it, and nobody listens much to a kid anyway, but as much as I loved science, science-y types often irked me, as did the religious types who demanded blind faith in things, things that sometimes defied logic.  I never believed they were impossible, but I darn well wanted to know HOW that worked!  I used to think both sides were just being pig-headed stubborn.  

They are at opposite ends of the spectrum like pasta and tomato sauce. LOL. One explains the other and they both explain each other IMHO. I think this is a  twentieth century dichotomy that began with the Scopes trial. Before that even Fundamentalist Christians believed Science supported the Bible. They were not right, in my opinion, in their interpretation of that, and that interpretation is really what Scopes was about, but they saw no war between the two.Today even the Catholic Church, the persecutors of Galileo, see the two as explaining each other.

Amazing find! Thank You John.

Perhaps you will consider a separate discussion to explain the terms like 'universal wave function', 'counterfactual' etc. The wiki references are a little complicated for us.

The reason I find this amazing that while thinking about post-spirituality a couple of months ago the terms like potentialities, actualities etc. came to my mind too. I used the term virtualities as well and tried to make a super set containing all. Events then overtook and I have not been able to think along those lines for a while. 

Perhaps it is not possible to figure out the true spirituality without a good background in Physics and Mathematics.

Amongst the finest commentary on Bhagvad Gita is from the Adi Shankaracharya. A good English translation can be downloaded from

Thanks! much appreciated!

This TMer told me that Maharishi Yogi's was the best, so I read it. Not all that impressed.I preferred Swami Prabhahanda (sp.). Never heard of this one you are talking about. So happy, found a beautiful copy with commentary by no-one for my third read.


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