from my “spiritual advisor”…

“Spirituality is, you know, like, it’s like paying attention to your soul or having deep thoughts that really move you, and not just thinking about who’s got nicer clothes and whether to buy a new car and what’s for dinner and stuff like that. Spirituality is really caring and not being just, you know, materialistic.”

Along with this common and unreflective view of spirituality goes a stereotype of the atheist: atheists lack “values”; they are careless, self-centered, shallow, overconfident. They think they know it all, and yet they completely miss out on the spirit. (You really can’t be a good person unless you have a spiritual life.)

Now let me try to put better words in their mouths. What these people have realized is one of the best secrets of life: let your self go. If you can approach the world’s complexities, both its glories and its horrors, with an attitude of humble curiosity, acknowledging that however deeply you have seen, you have only just scratched the surface, you will find worlds within worlds, beauties you could not heretofore imagine, and your own mundane preoccupations will shrink to proper size, not all that important in the greater scheme of things. Keeping that awestruck vision of the world ready to hand while dealing with the demands of daily living is no easy exercise, but it is definitely worth the effort, for if you can stay centered, and engaged, you will find the hard choices easier, the right words will come to you when you need them, and you will indeed be a better person. That, I propose, is the secret to spirituality, and it has noth-ing at all to do with believing in an immortal soul, or in anything supernatural.

from “Breaking the Spell” Daniel Dennett

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