Episode 74: What do we get out of spirituality?

Food, water, shelter – these are essentials. But a spiritual practice? Is it also an essential part of our lives? Is it a natural compulsion, responding to something within us? Or is it something we simply use to comfort ourselves in the face of inevitable death?

This week Clay and Sarah discuss the nature of spiritual practice and why we feel compelled to make this part of our life.
In this episode:

* spiritual practice in myth and ritual

* the language of myth

* are spiritual mythologies simply ways humans understand the deeper aspects of their inner psyche

* the historical change to ‘factual’ religions

* Jung’s concept of outer and inner levels of spiritual practice

* Are humans different than animals in their search for spiritual meaning?

* What do we get from ‘spirituality’ – what is ‘spirit’ anyway?


Human beings fall easily into despair, and from the very beginning we invented stories that enabled us to place our lives in a larger setting that revealed an underlying pattern and gave us a sense that, against all the depressing and chaotic evidence to the contrary, life had meaning and value.”  Karen Armstrong’s A Short History of Myth describes the importance mythic stories played in our human ancestor’s spiritual lives.

In contrast to the way we view myth nowadays, namely as something untrue, ancient cultures were incredibly sophisticated in the ways they translated those sublime moments when we seem to be transported beyond our ordinary concerns into metaphoric stories.

“In our scientific culture,” Armstrong claims, “we often have rather simplistic notions of the divine.”  However, John McManners History of Christianity shows that people in Roman times had sophisticated ways of “reinterpreting the myths of the gods allegorically, either as an imaginative picture-language describing the natural order of the world or as a projection of human psychological states.”

Yet in all our human history of creating uncountable myths, rituals and spiritual practices, we should ask ourselves — why do we do it?

What compels us to search for something more?

Does our spiritual practice fill our lives with a natural sense of reconnection to the great energy system of the world that so many people call God? Or is it just a convenient way to convince ourselves there is ‘something’ after death, that we are not going to be obliterated by time?

We had a great debate at the Havana Cafe this week. Hope you find some time for contemplation in your week!