Spirituality – How can a person’s being be defined? (1/2)

Spirituality – How can a person’s being be defined? (1/2)

In the previous post I raised some questions regarding the personality traits of a certain person. In the end, I would like to put into words what these traits are of a succesful person and how I can apply this to my own life.

This post will be about below question.

“How can a person’s being be defined?”

There are two viewpoints I will be discussing, the spiritualist viewpoint and the psychological viewpoint. This part consists only of the spiritualist viewpoint.

Spiritualist viewpoint

On the one hand you have the view of the spirtualist, which is more of an experiential approach to the question, rather than an objective one.
A good example is from the teachings of Eckhart Tolle (which is of course derived from spiritual schools all across time and space). Strangely enough, it says that the definition of a person’s being can not be defined. This viewpoint consists of:

  • The sense of ‘I’ is ultimately an illusion.
    • Quoted from “A New Earth”:

      “What you usually refer to when you say “I” is not who you are. By a monstrous act of reductionism, the infinite depth of who you are is confused with a sound produced by the vocal chords or the thought of “I” in your mind and whatever the “I” has identified with.”

  • This illusion is what is called the ego.
    • The ego identifies with materialistic objects, thoughts, gender, sense-perceived body, nationality etc. Basically any labelized aspect of reality that you relate to yourself.
    • When people identify heavily with an object, let’s say a wedding ring, and lose this object , they will perceive it as a blow to the ego. An attachment to reality has been damaged.
  • Psychological suffering is caused by the ego.
  • Sidetracking: In some spiritual circles it is said that when you cut yourself from the materialistic world
    , you will be enlightened. However, these people get the idea backwards and will leave everything (house, family, job, posessions) to pursue this goal. These people now get attached to the idea of becoming enlightened, heavily investing into this idea and are getting a bigger ego than everybody else. You can be ‘enlightened’ while having millions on your bank account and driving Lamborghini’s, according to Eckhart Tolle’s school of thought. By seeing the illusion for what it is, an illusion, you become detached, thus dissolving it.
  • If this applies to “I”, then it should also apply to another person, by an act of inductive reasoning.
    • What we see of another person comes from our perceived reality, our framework of belief, ultimately a grand simplification of what somebody is.
  • If the ego is seen for what it is, a person rises in (what Tolle describes as) Presence. The ego lives in the past and future, by abandoning the identification with past and future, you let go of the ego. Negative emotions as regret and worry are anchored in ,respectively, the past and future.
  • By having Presence you can focus on what really is and not be bothered by emotion or thought. This results in optimal engagement with reality.

To answer the question, by defining yourself, you are constraining yourself. People tend to stay in the mental boxes they put themselves in. These mental boxes consists of the ego-identifications with objects, thoughts, emotions etc. To let go of all this, a person will come into contact of what he truly is, which is undefinable. Often used term for this is ‘authenticity’ or ‘enlightenment’.


There is a really funny and ironic thing that I have noticed about followers of this school of thought, of which I have been guilty too from time to time. These followers tend to use spirituality/’letting go/’authenticity’ as a way to boost their ego. They feel like they are spiritually superior and can therefore excuse an argument, stance, viewpoint or opinion they dislike. They also tend to ONLY consider a spiritual viewpoint.
If you say that reality is infinite and undefinable, then you should put extra effort into seeing things from a different perspective. The more perspective/viewpoints you consider, the closer you will get to reality. Don’t get tunnel vision boys and girls!

Diagram of everything

For illustrative purposes, don’t mind the accuracy since there is definitely some overlaps here and there.

As said in the beginning of this post, the spiritual approach is an experiential one rather than an objective or practical one. To fully answer this question, we need to view this question also from the scientific / psychological point of view.

Which I shall discuss in the next post.


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