I occasionally hear people talk about how 'spiritual' they are as in "I'm a very spiritual person". What they mean by this is rather different to what used to be meant. For one thing, you would never have said it of yourself. It's like saying I'm a good person and not even Jesus accepted that of himself (see Matthew 19:17). But it also shows a basic misunderstanding of what spirituality actually is.
Spirituality is not believing that life has a spiritual component to it. It is not even thinking that this component is the most important thing and seeking it out through various means. It is certainly not cultivating a beatific smile and "loving" everyone equally because we are all one. Or being a vegan or meditating. Spirituality is not about having spiritual feelings and looking to satisfy those. That, dear reader, is just another form of consumerism.
I was inspired to write this post because of a discussion with a young person who had been practising meditation for a few months. She said she had found great inner peace at first but could not now recapture this and was distressed by that fact. She wanted more than anything to get back to her calm and tranquil state. At the same time, she realised that her meditation had numbed her in certain ways. (That was not the word she used but she agreed with it when I suggested it). She had become more self-absorbed, less able to deal with the world. She even said she felt she had stopped growing as a person. I told her that this might be exactly why she had been pushed away from her inner peace. That peace was actually a sort of stagnation. We are here to learn not to retreat to a passive bliss in which we cut ourselves off from the external world. If that were the goal why be born at all? She had been doing a vaguely Buddhist sort of meditation, as so many do, and when I pointed out that in traditional Buddhism meditation was only meant for monks and practised within the context of a strict religious framework she expressed surprise. Wasn't it for everyone? I said that in my opinion meditation can do more spiritual harm than good if it is secularised and simply used as a psychological tool to find peace. This is because it can take you away from a proper awareness of God. He becomes simply what you yourself are inside. From there it is a short step to thinking that you yourself are God, the only God you need. This is an error made by many Western practitioners of Eastern-style religions or those who adopt their techniques without adopting a real religious sensibility. They don't usually put it as bluntly as that but that is what their attitude often boils down to.
True spirituality is one thing only and that is loving God. But this means real love and the real God, intuited in the heart and perceived through his creation. Then it means subordinating yourself and all your desires to this love. As long as your idea of spirituality involves you seeking some benefit for yourself, it is a worldly thing. Of course, motives are usually mixed but the emphasis must always be on the love of God. This is why mystics were often frowned upon. If you are a mystic seeking mystical experience for your personal bliss are you really that different to a materialist looking to fulfil herself through continual shopping?