“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” Albert Einstein
I ask, “What does spirituality mean to you?”
Spirituality is subjective. Everyone agrees that spirituality is a good thing to have, though few can effectively define it. To the ancients, it meant life, not in its physical aspect, but as a universal principle that infuses, drives, and sustains existence. It was understood as an abstract energy in man that is the only reality in the midst of an ever-changing world. Hermes, western myth’s father of wisdom and communication, described spirit as the essence that permeates and the glue that connects everything. Our spiritual development is dependent on recognizing, realizing, and manifesting the spirit within us. To an eastern philosopher, spirit is universal. It’s never individualized. One person does not have one spirit and another person another. Man is a race of spiritually indivisible individuals. There are no divine spirits, human spirits, animal spirits, or plant spirits, but one spirit flowing through all divine forms. Chinese Taoists say, “As springs flow into streams, streams into rivers, and rivers into oceans, evolution is imprisoned in all things flowing through innumerable forms back to the sea of its own universality”.
In all esoteric teachings, the goal of spirituality is about raising consciousness in order to become aware of something greater, higher, and deeper than things appear to be in the moment. We reference all that is good, exalting, uplifting, and god-like in man’s nature. A feeling of reverence, devotion, attention, and a separation from all that’s low and degrading is present. Manly Hall postulates in his book, Questions and Answers: Fundamentals of the Esoteric Sciences, “All men suffer from certain reasonable doubts concerning life and truth. Spirituality is not in keeping with either the church or state. Each person is his own high priest and the obligations he makes to himself are what’s real.”
Rudolf Steiner, in his book, Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its Attainment, explains that human beings can attain spiritual enlightenment and wisdom through diligent esoteric study. The primary goal of this study is to recognize a life of truth and inner tranquility. There are six attributes that initiates strive to acquire: control of thought, control of actions, tolerance (towards persons, creatures, and circumstances), impartiality (the faith which can move mountains), equanimity (cultivation of inner balance), and perseverance.
Many people have a concept of spirituality that is colored by the exoteric and dogmatic beliefs of formalized religion. For example, you can become more spiritual by being celibate, denying materiality, or fasting. These are ideologies fostered by religious institutions in order to further their own private agendas. Modern psychologists believe that while consciously denying something, the surrounding issues become highly charged. Edward Whitmont, in The Symbolic Quest, writes, “Whatever is repressed while then lost in consciousness still does not disappear. It becomes an unconscious compulsive force, which then has primitive and potentially destructive characteristics. No wonder so many priests are sexual predators. I’ve examined hands of many violent criminals who discovered religion while incarcerated. Few were in touch with their spirituality. Knowledge without wisdom is lame, religion without spirituality is blind.
Spirituality connects anyone and everything at any time and every place. When I seek spirituality in the hands, I look for a firm handshake, pinkish elastic skin, and a full ball of the thumb that embraces life with enthusiasm and appreciation. Within the ball of thumb are lines parallel to the lifeline. These lines indicate an ability to have intimacy with others. More and longer lines reveal more and longer intimacies. William Benham (father of western palmistry) had an electric current theory of lines. He believed that current from the brain etches the lines in the hands, which in turn, reflect the qualities and directions of the person’s intentions and actions. Clear deep lines allow the current to flow freely. Frayed or islanded lines are produced by and represent interruptions and disruptions in the life force. Sometimes there is confusion at the beginning of a line and clarity over time. Many people become conscious of their struggles and thrive as they age despite challenging childhoods full of difficult obstacles.
Fingerprints also influence spirituality. People with whorl fingerprints rarely accept religious dogma and preconceived ideologies. They’re attracted to more unconventional and original philosophies. Loops are social and adaptable. You’ll find loops in all religions because a majority of people has some. Arch prints reflect more social conditioning and conventional religious beliefs. No matter what the hands say, no one is really able to comprehend the essence of another person’s spirituality until they have a dialogue with the person.
Early in my palmistry career, I was invited to attend a spiritual event for Swami Ji, a holy man, who had arrived from India to tour the United States. Many followers flocked to his northeast talk in New York to receive his wisdom and blessings. After the event, I got to spend quality time with him. It was my first experience with a guru. As I examined his hands, I was surprised by how many mundane questions he asked me about his competition, finances, and (it seemed to me) petty concerns about his immediate staff and personal comfort. We examined ways in which his outer worldly concerns challenged his inner-world.
Every person has material and spiritual concerns and questions. I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone they weren’t spiritual. Everyone is spiritual by degree. People frequently tell me how spiritual they are. I’m often surprised when I examine their hands to discover how very closed or rigid they are in their ideologies and attitudes. I won’t argue with fundamentalists about anything, but I do sprinkle seeds of spiritual thought and encourage them to sprout. Everyone must learn to weed, prune, and fertilize his or her spiritual garden.
As the human race relentlessly becomes a race against bad shit happening, a lot more people are becoming more spiritual. We grow more aware of our spirituality as we realize our impending mortality. I just look in the mirror. AIDS was a death sentence in the late 1980’s. Spirituality blossomed as people suffered and died. In the 21st century, our immune deficient environment, ailing economy, broken healthcare system, decaying infrastructure, partisan political system, fundamentalist religious ideologies, and terrorism, etc. are driving people to seek answers within themselves. No matter what anyone thinks about his or her spirituality, priceless information is waiting to be discovered at the ends of our arms.