I think when people hear the word ‘spiritual’, their mind immediately pairs it with ‘religious’. But when the Dalai Lama talks about having a spiritual dimension to your life, he is keen to underline that this does not mean the same as being religious.
He says there are two levels to ‘spirituality’. On one level, he acknowledges that spirituality can mean ‘religious belief’, and faith can definitely help people in trying times. It can make people feel as though they’re part of something bigger, and it can help make people more patient, because they believe that any bumps in the road are part of a greater plan.
But the Dalai Lama places a big emphasis on another kind of spirituality, which he calls ‘basic spirituality’. He says that,
“True spirituality is a mental attitude that you can practice at any time”
‘Basic spirituality’ is simply the cultivation of human qualities such as goodness, kindness, compassion, and caring for one another. I think it’s safe to say that embodying these qualities is not a matter of being religious or non-religious - it’s just about how we act and how we treat other people.
This ties in with one of the very first teachings in this project, which was all about finding common ground with one another, instead of choosing to focus on our differences (Song 2). People may express one level of their spirituality externally, through wearing particular clothing, or through visiting certain places of worship.
But arguably what is more important is this basic level of spirituality - whether we are kind, whether we are compassionate, whether we are loving, and whether we are caring. If we focus on this, then the external differences between people seem much less significant.
“It ain't about where you been, where you from, what you got, it's all about love
Self-love is the best love”
I wasn’t sure at first which song to choose, but after a while I realised that ‘We Got Love’ by Teyana Taylor is perfect for today’s teaching. She uses a mixture of spiritual-sounding and material-sounding language, but underlies throughout that the focus is on ‘love’.
“Don't let this life defeat you
I hope this message reach you”
For me this re-enforces the message of it not mattering whether you believe in something beyond this world, or whether you believe this is all there is. What does matter is how you treat other people - and, crucially, how you treat yourself.
“I lived in abundance
Love is the new money
I'm mentally wealthy
Here, for example, Taylor uses language that would usually conjure up images of business and luxury, but replaces ‘money’ with ‘love’. I think it’s such a cool concept to be ‘mentally wealthy’, and her message is that this is so much more valuable that being wealthy in the typical sense.
“That's my frequency
Spark up, burn the sage
Clear the room, kill the hate
Love is the new wave”
In contrast to the previous lines, Taylor brings in more spiritual phrases such as ‘burn the sage’ and ‘that’s my frequency’. This emphasises how it doesn’t matter whether your focus is on worldly concerns or more mystical matters - regardless, it’s always about ‘love’ and being a loving person.
“Above all, you keep your clarity
You keep your focus
You keep your sense of love
And you keep your sense of purpose”
Ms. Lauryn Hill provides an inspiring spoken-word verse at the end of the song, talking about her perception of success and happiness. I think it’s really poignant that she brings up ‘purpose’, and this is especially relevant for today’s teaching.
Some people say that there is no real purpose to life. We’re just all here on this big rock, and nothing ultimately matters - it’s the classic existential crisis that every philosopher has to go through…!
But whether you believe the meaning of life is God, or whether you believe it is 42…Whatever you believe about our ‘ultimate purpose’, we can still be loving and caring to others, and hopefully have people be loving and caring to us in return.
Even if it doesn’t ultimately mean anything, it definitely means something to someone.
“The value is internal
Your value is internal”