This quote is the greatest gift Wikipedia ever gave me. Countless authors have long since erased it:

“Spirituality is a process of personal transformation, either in accordance with traditional religious ideals, or, increasingly, oriented on subjective experience and psychological growth independently of any specific religious context.”

– Wikipedia, February 2015

Many “spiritual” individuals often make a mistake. They spread the idea that spirituality is a “lifestyle.”

I see this while traveling in places like Goa, India and Ubud, Bali. I saw it in San Francisco, too.

But spirituality is not a lifestyle.

Spirituality is not the clothes I wear, the foods I eat, the books I read, the places I hang out, the festivals I attend, the classes I take, the music I listen to, the exercise I do, the greetings I say, the way I carry my body, the tattoos I have, my hobbies, or my hairstyle.

Spirituality is how I treat people. It’s how I treat strangers, those who can do nothing for me, and those I disagree with. Especially those I disagree with.

Spirituality is not the light in my eyes. It’s the warmth in my smile.

Spirituality is not what I know but what I understand.

It’s not how deeply I think but how deeply I feel.

It’s not the way I talk but the way I listen.

And most of all, spirituality is not an identity I wear or a group I’m in. It’s not even mine.

Because spirituality is not a “way I am being” but a way that is being me. The struggle is in getting that right. So is the reward.

If in that process I read a book, enjoy an artist, eat (or avoid) a food, get a tattoo, or attend a festival, so be it.

But none of those things, nor even all of them together, are necessary or sufficient for spirituality.

At least not for me.


Eagle hunter and eagle
Kumispek, an eagle hunter from Bayan Olgii Province of Mongolia, holds his hunting eagle.

The golden eagles of Western Mongolia are not owned by their hunters. The eagles can fly away anytime.

But they choose not to. And a life-giving relationship flourishes between these animals, the hunters, and the hunters’ families.

But the hunters must hold up their end of the bargain, never forgetting that the life that comes to them is a gift. They are not owed it. They do not possess it.

It was both heavier and lighter than I expected. : ) Photo by Thomas

Thanks to my dear friends Tim and Fred
for their input and encouragement on this post.

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The Lost Pilgrim


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