What’s the Difference between “Spiritual” and “Energetic”?
We often conflate the words “Spiritual” and “Energetic,” in the worlds of energy medicine and new-age thought. We assume that the biofield, subtle energies, the aura, chakras, qi, etc, are interchangeable with “Spirit” or “Spiritual.” But when we do that, we cannot see the spiritual forest for the energetic trees.
It’s a materialistic “muddle” (to para-quote Gregory Bateson’s “Steps to an Ecology of Mind”.) I’m not just nitpicking here. Yeah, I very much grok that it’s all one, spirit and energy are one, there are no distinctions, blah blah blah. But using language at all creates distinctions… so let’s at least create better distinctions!
Let’s not think mechanistically about spirituality. Why would we want to diminish the infinite essence of spirit by assuming that it is local – located in the aura or the biofield?
When I hear the phrase “Spiritual Energy” bandied about, I involuntarily, instinctively – and intuitively – recoil. (Almost as much as I cringe when the word “Quantum” is randomly appended to new-age concepts – but that’s a whole ‘nuther rant.)
“Energy” has a zillion different shades of meaning, and none of them are exactly synonymous with spirit. Spirit has energy, like everything else. Spirit manifests with very little form and a lot of void, so we tend to primarily perceive its energy – because that’s about all that our pint-sized perceptions can pick up. But that’s like Plato’s cave reflections plus the blind men’s elephant, multiplied by the Rashomon effect.
In my experience, spirit is expanded consciousness, and spirituality is about opening to, tuning in to, and resonating with, that consciousness.
And for corroboration, it’s no less than Rupert Sheldrake to the rescue. He says that spirituality is “forms of consciousness that go beyond the human level, or the social level. Direct experience of connecting with [consciousness] is what most people mean by ‘spirituality’.” Sheldrake also makes a distinction between spirit, soul, and psychic — where soul is the field of an individual, and psychic connections like telepathy are part of normal communication between individuals — they are not spiritual.*
* Here’s where Sheldrake says all this. Funny how it coincides with my timing of this blogue and upcoming teleseminar. There’s morphic resonance afoot!) https://www.sheldrake.org/audios/science-set-free-podcast
Also see my interview with Sheldrake, here: Healing & Morphic Fields
So without resorting to religious terminology, I would posit “spirit” as expanded consciousness, and spirituality as the various connections to that consciousness.
Let’s not confuse spirit with its energetic by-products. The expressions and signs of the existence of spirit vary greatly, depending on the observer. Invoking biofields, auras, chakras, jin, qi or shen, etc… is not necessary, in order to have a direct experience of spirit.
All those forms and footprints of spirit are beautiful, interesting and real. But they are incomplete.
Take the analogy of music: its notes and clefs and quavers, its melody, harmony, rhythm and timbre, its waveforms of frequency and amplitude, its resonance patterns in water, wood, or metal, its emotional affects, its aesthetic effects, or its ranking on the Billboard charts — all those various forms are limited, partial representations of the whole.
For best results, allow spirit to take whatever form, or formlessness, that it happens to manifest in the moment. Don’t assume it has to look like what you learned in that aura reading class, or violet flame training or “how to see a burning bush” weekend retreat. I’m not saying those things aren’t real – just that you don’t need to limit yourself exclusively to them!
Spirit is always infinitely larger than we think it is, and it is far beyond the words we use to describe it… including these words.
Please Comment Below!
Sometimes we get judgemental about our own spirituality! Do you ever find yourself thinking you are “not spiritual enough?” or “too woo-woo and not grounded enough?”
Do you catch yourself thinking mechanistically or materially, about spirituality? Do you assume your spirit is located in your aura? Or that it is locally located? Do you assume that cause and effect applies to spirit, like “if I am good, I will go to heaven, or get karmically rewarded?” What does being spiritual even mean?
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