What Does Spiritual Mean?


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Should be possible in a few years to create a dissensus AI god that figures out all the myths and stories that keep getting repeated, then spew it back to us so we buy it and live by it


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Two other things spring to mind while I'm here. One is the quality of responsiveness. When reality changes from becoming an inanimate machine working out its cause and effect computations, to becoming something responsive, that communicates with you, plays with you, assumes new guises. The Internet is interesting in this respect, because it often gives people this sensation, in various different ways. I think with the Internet there is always an ambiguity over whether it is God or the Antichrist. Alive or a devious simulation of life.

For me this sense of responsiveness is not ever present, but I only feel half alive in the periods of my life when it's not there.

The other thing is the sense of narrative and I think this is what people mean by initiation. The sense of being inducted into a series of ever grater mysteries. This can have an addictive quality and so be quite dangerous. Always wanting the next thing.


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"What I'm saying is that, to me, organised religion seems to be an accumulation of dead ritual, lifeless dogma; and largely fear-driven belief that has built up around some original kernel of genuine spiritual experience. From what I understand of the original Essenes, for example, they were Gnostics. That is to say, their spirituality was based not upon faith or belief but upon personal apprehension and knowledge, or gnosis, of the powers at work in the Universe. They didn't believe. They knew. If there over was such a historical personage as Jesus Christ, and if this person did have a group of Apostles around him, they were not acting from belief either. Saul/Paul had the heavenly searchlight turned upon him during his day trip to Damascus. Pentecostal Fire danced on their tongues. Thomas... a pure-bred I'm-From-Missouri Gnostic if ever I heard of one... even put his hand in the wound of the resurrected messiah. Gnosis... personal knowledge and experience of the spiritual I have no problem with.

What I do have a problem with is the middle management who have manoeuvred themselves between the wellspring and those who thirst in the field of spirituality just as efficiently as they've done it in every other field of human endeavour. It seems to me that when the blueprint for the modern Christian faith was first sketched out by the Emperor Constantine and his marketing department, it was constructed largely to solve a couple of immediate Earthly problems that Rome was faced with at the time. They had a city divided by different theological factions, the largest and noisiest probably being the early Christian zealots. Then there was the cult of Mithras, which was smaller but which included the bulk of the Roman Military. Finally there was the cult of Sol Invictus, the undefeated Sun, which was relatively small but very popular amongst the merchant class.

Constantine's posse came up with a composite religion to unite Rome: Christianity would incorporate large chunks of Mithraism, including the stuff about being born in a cave surrounded by shepherds and animals on the 25th of December, and would make concessions to the cult of Sol Invictus, the Undefeated Sun, by sticking a big Sun-symbol behind the messiah's head in all the publicity handouts. This is politics.

The effect in spiritual terms is to move the emphasis away from any genuine personal spiritual experience. Whereas for the original Gnostics such a personal knowledge of and direct communication with the Godhead was the cornerstone of their spiritual life, after the priesthood moved in the basic proposition was vastly different: "You don’t need to have had a transforming experience yourselves, and in fact neither do the priesthood need to have had a transforming experience. The important thing is that we have this book, about people who lived a long time ago, and they had transforming experiences, and if you come along on Sunday we'll read to you about them, and that will be your transforming experience." This sounds to me like a co-opting of the divine impulse -- a channeling of the individual's spiritual aspirations into a mechanism for social regulation.

So, no, I’m not a big fan of organised religion of any kind.

On the other hand, I have nothing but respect for your recent involvement with Christianity [see Dave's footnote below], although it was news to me. Stripped of the dogma and the strictures of organised religion that have grown up about it, I have a great deal of sympathy for the story at the core of Christianity. Judaeo-Christian symbology and concepts make up a significant part of magical thought, and my own workings have touched upon some of these areas with a fierce intensity. I won't bore you or your readers with the rambling details, but one of my investigations into the Qabala involved a vision of the Mysteries of the Crucifixion, and it goes without saying that something like that certainly leaves an impression. I would imagine that my personal notion of Jesus is possibly a great deal more immediate and real than that of a great many people who would profess to be practising Christians.

I suppose this is how I would define the relative definitions between our positions in terms of language and linguistics. As I see things, the underlying spiritual landscape of all the world's religions and belief systems is the same territory, just as a canine quadruped is essentially the same animal the world over, whether we choose to label it chien or hund or dog. As with dogs, so too with gods. All religions and beliefs are in a sense language systems, a range of symbols and icons with which we attempt to give form to the infinite and formless. Just as with language, most belief systems have their own unique beauty, their own advantages and drawbacks. In its purest form, Christianity is a very moving and powerful holy language indeed, and I sometimes like to speak it, to frame the Universe in those terms. I don't see magic as being something that is in opposition to Christianity, Islam, or even secular Humanism. I see all of these forms as being languages, while I see magic as being more akin to linguistics, the science of languages. Note that I don't imply that magic is necessarily a superior form of study because of this, any more than I'd look down on you for learning Russian while I was taking a linguistics course.

Also, once you move aside the symbols and look behind them, we'd probably find that our viewpoints had more in common than one might suppose. The serpent deity that I have a particular affinity for is understood to be the serpent entwining the tree in Eden. According to the numerological system of Gematria, the serpent in Eden and Jesus Christ have an equivalent value; they are in a sense understood to be the same thing. This was the basis for the belief of the early Gnostic Ophite Christians, who believed that Jesus was a form of divine, illuminating energy called the Christos and that this energy was identical to the divine, illuminating serpent energy known as Kundalini. You might not find the idea very palatable, but when my mind is focused upon my snake deity/imaginary friend, then it is at least in part focused upon that aspect of the serpent that is Jesus. In a sense, the snake is Jesus in another language: the redeeming solar force that brings light and knowledge, that rises again from its own sloughed-off skin. Thus, I imagine that most of the differences between our outlook may be similarly differences of language. At any rate, we can certainly agree to coexist peacefully. If you don't burn me at the stake, I won't sour your milk or give your off-spring a clubfoot."

Alan Moore - from http://momentofcerebus.blogspot.com/2015/10/correspondence-from-hell-conclusion.html


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Spiritual is your first pubescent wank. I genuinely thought i had to go for a piss, that there wasn’t a place beyond that lightning bolt threshold, but there was. Burroughs says in Cities of the Red Night of mercury melting behind your eyes. Close Bill, close (but not too close)

Spiritual is not being forced to go to Mass so you could fuck off out with mates for the fist time on a Sunday, liberation

Spiritual is football and rugby at their zenith, even the first time away at Chelsea’s old shed and hearing Dominator. What the crowd buzz was like before, during and after the game (even the violence to some extent). The creativity of insults where humour was paramount. Journeys in shitty coaches with blokes who could hold court with conviviality and salt. Playing the game as a kid, I can think of maybe 4 moments where each move and pass went so perfectly it was as if the game itself was playing you - a flying header, a dozen pass move and a slap shot top corner finish, a through ball I couldn’t recreate in a million lifetimes and winning a schools league tournament about 15-14 that many goals went in

Spiritual is great sex, maybe tipping over into ritual, the intensity of intimacy, devouring and being devoured

Spiritual is the music you love

Spiritual is being present for the birth of your child, with all its messy, pain-ridden, foreboding, breezy, laboured heaven. The first placenta I saw made me reevaluate the surrealism of the human body. It‘s a genuinely epic piece of biology, the colours, function, necessity of it. The strange, weaving coil-like patterns and shapes, not that you want to take it home or owt. The effortless grace of midwives, how do they chill like that?

Spiritual is being present as a parent or close friend dies, the ineffable sadness of a life ending where language breaks down - you cannot relay what’s happened in any form close to how you felt/feel

Spiritual is drugs in the right context

(analysis over late lunch)


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I think spirituality concerns the unseen. Not necessarily the hidden (occult), although that's not excluded from this definition. But that which is part of your world without there being anything you can point to and say "there it is".

If we think of "materialism" (in the sense in which it's commonly used in opposition to spirituality) as a reductionism, it often involves picturing the world as a collection of moving parts, all of which can be shown and studied in isolation as well as in interaction with each other. Everything that is, is some combination of these moving parts moving together. So there is nothing unseen: there's a sort of base-level clarity to a reductionist world-picture. Nothing is essentially invisible or unknowable. You just need to gather up all the observations needed to get a complete picture, and then everything will be understood.

Modern science is not entirely in agreement with this view of things - there isn't the same confidence that you can get a complete picture just by observing all the moving parts of a phenomenon, because observation gets complicated at the very small scale, and interactions between moving parts get explosively complicated in dynamic systems. You have to start speaking probabilistically, or about "emergent" behaviours. This excites spiritually-minded people because it seems to open up the possibility of weird kinds of causation - the mind causing things to happen, or synchronicities co-ordinating the behaviour of seemingly-unconnected events from afar. Maybe this is how astrology works, or precognition, or healing practices involving the corralling of mysterious, invisible energies! (Explaining why it isn't can get exhausting, but I think it boils down to "reality's weirdness is much weirder than you think, you are invoking a kind of weird causation which entirely revolves around human pattern-recognising capabilities, which actually end up producing misleadingly simplifying narratives about what's going on")

Spirituality is where we put all our intuitions about how important aspects of the human social world are not reductionistically accountable for - we feel that there are unseen forces in our lives which can't be "boiled down" to visible actions and interactions. Meanings that accrue, auras that attach themselves to things. Experiences where the core of the experience doesn't seem to have anything to do with instrumental knowledge, thinking and acting in a known domain in order to accomplish a known goal, but feels more like submitting to something not entirely under the control of our own personality. Important and unpredictable things, which can derail a life, or set it on a wholly new path - we reach for them precisely when everything seems plotted-out in advance, as if we were a cog in a clockwork universe.


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my most spiritual moment was the first time I head the Dennis Ferrer remix of "Most Precious Love" and I said out loud "this is spiritual" right before Barbara Tucker sang "it's so spiritual"


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you can actually visit the invisible college and gain instruction in the exquisite science tbh. its all real.