Spirituality and Philosophy

Philosophy and spirituality share some common ideas, but also differ in their approach and practise of the truth. To some people there is a wide divergence between philosophy and spirituality. However, to some extent, they share some similarities and both have their role to play in the discovery of truth.

1. Mind and Heart.

Philosophy deals primarily with the mind. It tries to understand, solve and explain problems through mental clarity and written explanation. Philosophy can seek to prove the existence of God, but this proof is always through the medium of the human intellect. In philosophy, it is the mind that is predominant.

"Philosophy is in the thinking mind. Philosophy is of the searching mind. Philosophy is for the illumining mind."

[1] – Sri Chinmoy

Spirituality accepts the mind can have a role to play; but, at the same time it can never be satisfied solely with the reasoning of the mind. Spirituality wishes to experience the heart of reality, and not just examine life from the fringes. Spirituality is not so much concerned with proving God’s existence; spirituality teaches us to make the God a living presence in our consciousness.

"Spirituality is in the aspiring heart. Spirituality is of the liberating soul. Spirituality is for the fulfilling and immortalising God."

[1] – Sri Chinmoy

2. Proof vs Experience.

Philosophy seeks to prove and convince others. For example, philosophers seek to prove either the existence or non existence of God. A philosopher can enlighten others to a limited extent. But, in practise, few are converted by the philosophy of others. Even the most persuasive and convincing explanations of God’s existence leave us unsatisfied. Spirituality is not concerned with convincing others; spirituality is primarily a matter of personal experience. Spirituality is not something to be talked about, but, lived. It may be impossible to explain our spiritual experiences to others, but this does not matter. The belief or disbelief of other people does not impact on our experience. Practising spirituality can give us a genuine feeling of inner peace and connection with our source. When we develop this connection we have good feeling towards others, but, we do not feel responsible for their beliefs.

3. The Role of Consciousness.

The essence of spirituality is consciousness. A spiritual seeker seeks to bring to the fore his divine qualities of peace and light. These are not mere words, but, become a living presence. Philosophy can talk about these states of consciousness, but on its own it cannot bring them into the consciousness of the reader. The highest philosophy can lead a seeker along the right path; but, ultimately philosophy has limitations in moving the reader from a mental understanding to a direct experience.

4. Complexity and Simplicity

Spirituality loves simplicity. Philosophy loves complexity. Both have their roles to play; but, it is often through simplicity that we can most easily reach the goal. Philosophy takes delight in pursuing multiple lines of inquiry. Hypotheses are tested against the strictures of logic and the most developed reasoning of the mind. Spirituality does not criticize the path of the mind, but, says to the aspiring seeker. "Dive Deep within. All questions can be answered in your silent mind and aspiring heart."

Philosophy takes us along the path to our destination. It can remove the ignorance and prejudices of the mind. By illumining the mind it can aspire us to understand and grow into the truth. Spirituality urges us to make the truth a living reality. Spirituality and philosophy need not be at loggerheads. Spirituality informs philosophy, it gives added meaning to the illumination of the mind.

[1] Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality by Sri Chinmoy

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