What role does spirituality play in life

What is spirituality, a spiritual person?

Table of Contents:

  1. What is spirituality - from me to self
  2. First find your worldly self
  3. A typical example of becoming an I
  4. Spirituality comes with self-becoming
  5. Spiritually thanks to the importance of the I-Becoming
  6. Spiritually, but despise the importance of being human?
  7. How I and self-becoming intertwine
  8. Who is the boss, who is the servant?
  9. Living the I or the self
  10. Live spiritually as servants of the self
  11. What does living spiritually mean in religion and esotericism?
  12. What does living spiritually mean in the church?
  13. The attraction of esotericism
  14. Spirituality or more appearance than being?

What is spirituality - from me to self

Spirituality is the striving for a personal, inner connection with God and his messengers, e.g. founders of religions. Spiritual people find thereby a higher meaning and fulfillment in life. Each religion offers its own belief and way to God. However, everyone can live spiritually individually, without religion and church. How? By consciously experiencing the two-part development process of becoming an I and becoming a self.

A simple development model throws light on the question "What is spirituality" or what does living spiritually actually mean? This simple but very elementary human development model consists of two phases. C.G. Jung spoke of becoming an I and becoming a self. Long before C.G. Jung taught some religions and philosophers by different names basically the same thing: descent and ascent, involution and evolution, entanglement and development, embodiment and spiritualization.

First find your worldly self

In the process of becoming I, the person builds up an identity and personality and takes on social roles. He discovers his individual characteristics and needs that distinguish him from others. The human being discovered but not only his "worldly self", he also wants it to be active realize. Like the fairytale hero, he goes out into the world to get “his own” there. The I-person seeks and finds his place in life, i.e. in work, family and society.

How successfully the I-person fulfills his wishes initially does not play a role for our model. The decisive factor is the typically worldly attitude towards life that is emphasized by me. This is where I-person and spiritual person differ, who of course can still have a normal job and family.

A typical example of becoming an I

Imagine a 50-year-old man who describes himself as follows: “Like my father, I am a teacher and also a father of a family. As a teacher, I can impart knowledge and that's exactly what I want to do. I grew up in a rather poor family and now, together with my wife, I enjoy the not luxurious but materially carefree life. I was reluctant to take on the role of father, but with increasing joy. I don't care too much for religion and spirituality. I think everyone is the maker of their own happiness. "

This man knows who he is. He has found his place in society and granted some of his wishes. His I-becoming has taken place. He is not a spiritual person. Why should spirituality matter to him? He doesn't miss anything. Of course, things could go better in life, but by and large he's fine. He is satisfied.

Spirituality comes with self-becoming

The I-becoming is followed by the self-becoming. With it, "spirituality" begins to take hold in the broadest sense. The usual values ​​such as career, money, sexuality, harmonious family, acceptance among friends, etc. are becoming less important. One begins to question one's previous life and to look thoughtfully for something else, for some higher meaning in life. The interests shift in a more spiritual or psychological direction.

How could that look like with our 50-year-old? Triggered by the death of the father, his life changes. The intellectual knowledge of a teacher gives way more and more to a holistic understanding of the world and the desire for self-knowledge. He now occasionally reads books on philosophy and psychology. Now and then he meditates and seeks solitude in nature. He wonders for the first time "What is Spirituality" at all? What does being spiritual mean for me or what meaning could have it?


To arrive professionally successful “at the top” (becoming me) or as a spiritual person striving for spiritual heights instead of the career peak (becoming oneself).

Actually not religious, he now asks himself whether and what kind of God there is. What does living spiritually mean for a rather irreligious person? Can one even become a spiritual person without religion and church? What kinds of love, e.g. spiritual love, soul love, etc. are there? What kind of love binds him to his wife, what binds him to his father? All of these things are on his mind now. He meets his old friends less and less and he largely gives up his hobbies.

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Spiritually thanks to the importance of the I-Becoming

To be spiritual presupposes that you have been a normal I-person. Sustainable self-development only arises from the previous self-development.

Every religion attaches importance to the term "spiritual", some specific definition and meaning. Most of the time we learn of some kind of activity that allows spirituality to flourish. With the help of e.g. meditation, prayer and the power of faith, the human being should come closer to his idea of ​​God. It almost always boils down to doing spiritual things in order to become spiritual through them. Sounds logical. Normal worldly life, on the other hand, is seen almost exclusively as an obstructive opposition.

Spiritually, but despise the importance of being human?

Few religious doctrines give the ego-becoming an explicit value and a higher meaning. Few realize the very concrete meaning of normal ego life for subsequent spirituality. This is why I like the holistic model of becoming myself and becoming myself so much. Because it connects both sides and teaches a fundamental truth on which many fail: living spiritually and becoming oneself necessarily requires becoming an I.

There is no shortcut and many clergymen as well as esotericists flee the world instead of facing their ego desires. Celibacy, the celibate and sexless life of Catholic priests, is a prime example here. Without a previously experienced sexuality, neither priests will find healthy celibacy, nor will other people find a higher level of love. It is not for nothing that the fundamental idea of ​​“being human beforehand” runs like a red thread through my book on Christian spirituality and love.

As Francis of Assisi put it aptly, “Sometimes we ask so much to be angels that we forget to be good people beforehand.” How do I become spiritual? As the saint recognized back then, by first assuming my worldly humanity. That is a basic requirement.

I-becoming is meaningful, natural, and good. It is good to be a worldly, initially by no means spiritual person. Only he who becomes a real person with all due respect and drinks this bowl to the end can then develop an authentic self and real spirituality. You can often find examples of this in the biographies of special people.

How I and self-becoming intertwine

Admittedly, a lot of them hang too much in the worldly I-life. Still, only a Saul can become a Saint Paul. And Francis, quoted above, did not live spiritually at all as a young man.

Only a fully developed caterpillar can turn into a butterfly. Only someone who has an I has something that can transform into a self. And only a stable self can become an instrument of the self.

Those who want to be spiritual must have experienced the importance of normal, non-spiritual life. Both of these also depend on each other in terms of quality and content. What do i mean? Well, a large red caterpillar, for example, becomes a large red butterfly and not a small yellow one. A fanatical sect leader, for example, will at some point become a good religious leader and not a responsible environmentalist. A bad mother may follow in Mother Theresa's footsteps, and so on.

I-becoming and self-becoming do not, of course, occur strictly separated from one another. Both are always at work at the same time; the only question is with what weight distribution. Most people spend their whole life almost exclusively concerned with their ego-becoming. Especially in the so-called midlife crisis, many experience an explicit opportunity and challenge to tread the path of self-development and spirituality. However, only a few live from then on consistently spiritual.

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Who is the boss, who is the servant?

With increasing spirituality, the ego opens up to the self and takes on its qualities. The I is increasingly becoming an individual expression, servant and messenger of the self.

As we become more and more self, we identify more and more with the self. The question “what is spirituality” therefore largely depends on the nature and meaning of this so-called self. What is the self? Sure, it's spiritual, but what exactly does being spiritual mean? What does our life look like when we shape it from within?

Living the I or the self

If we live out of the ego, we are always guided by very specific needs and desires; physical, emotional and rational-understanding desires. After a failure, we console ourselves with chocolate, for example, or we feel lonely and long for a relationship. Sexual satisfaction plays a big role. We study for years because we want an expert's approval. Yes, the intellectual is also an I-person.

The self, on the other hand, sees life from a higher, holistic perspective. When I was seriously considering studying law at the age of 22, my self came forward in a dream and said "No". It knew my entire life plan and knew that it would lead me to a sideline. The self by no means flatly rejects I-wishes. After all, we are human and our desires drive us to live. The question is, Which Desires and motivations drive us ...

The self is a kind of “higher” me, so some call it “the higher self”. It builds a bridge to the presence we call God. The self is the spiritual core in every person, some misunderstand it as the soul, see what is the soul. The more holistic and spiritual (not intellectual) we shape our life, the more the self directs. And the more we automatically live spiritually.

Live spiritually as servants of the self

No matter how much someone can live spiritually, the I never completely disappears. It is part of being human like the body. Imagine a circle (me) within a larger circle (self). With increasing spiritual and spiritual development, the smaller ego-circle expands more and more, approaches the self-circle. In the case of a divinely enlightened person, both circles even touch. The I-circle or the I-consciousness as such always remains.

Do not misunderstand the matured growing me as reinforced I am an I-human. Why? Because the growing I-circle assumes more and more the essence of the self. The more the ego expands towards the self (“expansion of consciousness”), the more it loses its typical ego properties. Rather, it becomes the messenger, servant and doer of the self. The conscious self acts, thinks and then lives as a voluntary servant of the boss-self. Both are becoming more and more one.


Sometimes holding a hand over us protectively or communicating a message: Angels are serving performers and mouthpieces of God. Ideally, our ego would be an instrument of the self in a very similar way.

The self is actually a pleasant boss, after all, it is our divine spark. Depending on the challenge, even highly spiritual people can experience tense crises. On the eve of his crucifixion, in his hardest hour in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed: “My father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Not my will, but yours be done ”(Mt 26:39).

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What does living spiritually mean in religion and esotericism?

Living spiritually is more than just believing in a higher power called God. A truly spiritual person actively grows like a plant to sunlight. He does what strengthens his spiritual development and his relationship with God. That may be prayer and worship or meditation and yoga. Depending on which religion or esotericism he follows. Unfortunately, esotericism often lacks quality and the Christian church lacks will. Seekers have to find the few pearls.

Our central question "What does it mean to live spiritually" Certainly not only a famous psychotherapist like Jung can answer. So let's move away from the Jung’s model presented above about becoming myself and myself. Although Carl Gustav Jung practiced a kind of spiritual psychotherapy, we are actually entering the field of completely different areas with our concern, namely religion and esotericism.

What does living spiritually mean in the church?

Essentially, to be spiritual means to establish a personal relationship with a higher presence that is not easily directly experienced: God. Like a plant to sunlight, man then grows towards this divine source over many lifetimes. However, this path initially sets the Believe ahead of such a divine presence. Such beliefs characterize a religion. Thus, by definition, spirituality automatically becomes a matter of religion. And their churches see themselves as mediators and bridges to their religion (and thus also to God).

On the other hand, whoever wants to live spiritually is in no way dependent on religion and the church. Everyone is free to find their own way. Many do that. No wonder, since Christianity and other religions often have little to do with their own historically grown spirituality.

The imagination of sins, sexual morality and worship do not make hearts beat faster, as do sermons “from the pulpit”. Added to this is the church's untrustworthiness due to its own misconduct. There are many examples of this.

An authentic spirituality lived with passion remains a scarce commodity. As a result, many find esotericism and hope for better ways and means there. Are they really better off there and find a deeper meaning in life? Are esoterics automatically spiritual people?

The attraction of esotericism

Spirituality means, among other things, to perceive the meaningful work of a divine presence everywhere, also in oneself and to develop spiritually and spiritually. This basic idea leads us directly to esotericism. Development through self-knowledge is a central feature of esoteric philosophy of life, as its true meaning is explained in detail on the page what is esotericism. Those who are disappointed in the church and now look for their luck in esotericism, however, often come from bad to worse.

At first glance, the esoteric looks extremely exciting and attractive. What is not there: horoscopes, soul mates and soulmates, predictions of the future, card reading, dream interpretation, reincarnation, media channels, beautiful utensils and wellness ... a celebration of the senses and new experiences. All nice spiritual people. All are tolerant and goodwill. There is a remedy or mantra for all ailments, the dream catcher for nightmares, etc. An ideal world in which everyone loves each other and every little animal is allowed to have its little bit of pleasure.

O.K., of course I exaggerated. The fact is, however, that the seeker experiences the exact contrast to the Christian church in many ways. And often gratefully accepts it, because this form of spirituality and definition of spiritual life appeals to him.

Spirituality or more appearance than being?

In principle, esotericism could promote spirituality, but it mostly gets stuck in superficial commerce and unlived theory. It does not live the spirit of the original evolutionary theory of its founders. Lived self-knowledge and development? Barely. Therefore it does not bring about a grown spiritual development and turning towards "upwards". What it means to live spiritually turns esotericism into a modern potpourri of sensation, quick effects, predictions of the future, self-deception and flight from the world. Countless examples can be found on Youtube and Eso fairs.

In theory, esotericism lends itself well to spiritual interests outside of religions. Many actually good ideas, however, fizzle out ineffectively or remain a short flash in the pan. Effects are sold as developments, but only remain effects. The more sensational the effect, the better the deception succeeds. For example, when someone is fiddling with your chakras and it feels good.

Very often people consciously or unconsciously play with people's hopes, promising a lot and keeping little. Temptingly simple paths should lead like an escalator to the spiritual heaven. A few scents, mantras or certain yoga techniques are by no means spirituality. True spirituality and true esotericism do not seek their salvation in "things and techniques". The associated danger is that of modern “idol worship”.

An example: It is a good idea to question illnesses for their higher meaning, because ultimately all illnesses have a spiritual meaning. But what does it help if there is a lack of medical knowledge and questionable remedies are being sold ... Holistic concepts for body, mind and soul are often just wellness. Coming from the Latin “spiritus”, spirituality has by definition “breath of life, spirit and soul”. But esoteric concepts usually breathe a completely different spirit.

Unlike the Christian church, there is esotericism enormous number Answers to the question "what is spirituality and what is a spiritual person". However, it very often lacks the necessary quality. Quantity instead of quality. Many seekers only learn through detours and wrong turns to separate the numerous chaff from the little wheat in the Eso jungle. The more conscious and enlightened this happens, the better. Perhaps this page could make a contribution to this.

(Author Martin Dierks, June 2007, last change January 2020, copyright notice)

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