This past Monday, Onondaga Hall hosted philosopher-minister Michael Sauter to give a talk about "the meaning of life." Unfortunately, I was greatly disappointed in what this Christian pastor had to say.
The first 15 minutes were devoted to a discussion of "spirituality," which was basically described as a phenomenon of books on the best-seller list, a "groovy fad" in which people participate in to seem cool or exotic, or something used to make claims about themselves as achieving a level of existence in some "groovy" space above normal people.
It was difficult to listen to such ignorance, especially given the inconsistencies between Sauter's condescending implications and his playful vocal inflection. The point at which I walked out was when the minister described people who were "into these ideas of spirituality" as looking for a way to "do all sorts of groovy things with their lives" and maybe one day even "teleporting around."
I want to make this very clear: spirituality is not a groovy fad. It is not a product of best-seller books. It is not a pop culture phenomenon followed by elitists who are looking for a way to separate themselves from others to seem morally or spiritually superior. At its true essence, when practiced sincerely, spirituality is absolutely none of the things that Sauter called it.
Spirituality is a way of looking at and thinking about the metaphysics of reality or non-reality, existence or non-existence and all the questions that these issues entail.
Basically, spirituality is a way of thinking about life that goes beyond the realm of the body and the physical. Religion itself is an expression of spirituality; the two are not diametrically opposed ideas and one is not superior to the other.
I am not religious, but I am spiritual. I don't go to a church to pray and I don't adhere to the beliefs of any one system of religious thought. My philosophical views extend beyond the physical realm. I do believe in the existence of a reality beyond what I can see and feel. I don't call it God, heaven, hell, Brahman, or anything else.
I don't get my ideas out of best-seller books, and I don't wear my spirituality on my sleeve as a badge of honor for all to see.
It is not about being able to see what others can't, being above the unenlightened or simply being different. It is not a case of an individual who is following a fad. It is not a case of an individual who has a diluted sense of religion.
It is a case of an individual searching for and trying to explain the Truth. u
Jesse Goldberg is a sophomore English major who knows what the meaning of life is not: a groovy fad.