One of the stops on our journey to discovering and understanding spirituality is an exploration of Buddhism. My personal experience with Buddhism has primarily come through the practices of Lay Buddhists; followers of the religion who aren’t members of the Sangha, that is, they aren’t monks, nuns, or clergy.

Many writings and teachings of Buddhist mentors, including Lama Surya Das and his teacher, Lama Thubten Yeshe, help us to understand that the idea of enlightenment is regarded as the most fundamental element of Buddhism and that the Eight Fold Path is a Buddhist’s spiritual guide to ultimately becoming enlightened.

Throughout his book, Awakening the Buddha Within, Lama Das discusses the characteristics of Buddhism from a Westernized point of view. He believes, and I agree, that enlightenment cannot be defined by one definition alone because it is an amorphous individual experience. Lama Das builds on this concept by suggesting that experiencing enlightenment through Buddhism isn’t dissimilar to how Christians experience God or how everyone experiences love.

I associate spirituality with a metaphysical path or experience, much like the path described in Lama Das' book. However, I don’t necessarily believe that religion and spirituality are one in the same or that the two even have to be connected at all. Everyone posses the ability to experience enlightenment, to live a vibrant spiritual journey, they just need to engage in spirituality building activities such as meditation, yoga, or singing. By reflecting upon these and other specific practices on a daily basis, we are better able to build a spiritual life.

Regardless of how naïve your understanding of spirituality is, everyone can garner some appreciation for the notion of enlightenment and how Buddhist philosophical practices relate to spiritual manifestation. Lama Das’ likening of enlightenment to spirituality has certainly reinforced my own interpretation of spirituality; where an individual’s experiences and daily activities form the path which influences their spiritual nature – an insight also offered by the revered teachings of another Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.

Nhat Hanh’s book, Peace is Every Step, offers a valuable insight as to the roots of anger. He outlines a principle which is fundamental for the development of our spiritual selves; perhaps it is best summed up by this phrase commonly attributed to poet and Transcendentalist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, “For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.”

These words should ring true for everybody, especially considering the last few years of consistent struggle with globalized violence goaded on by negative emotions, notably anger and fear. As we develop a better understanding of spirituality, we come to the realization that, by and large, anger is a hindrance and rarely beneficial.

Nhat Hanh emphasizes that anger is ingrained in certain sensations including pride, suspicion, desire, and agitation. Not only can anger encompass us in these situations, but our anger is also self generated and internally influenced. With regards to spirituality, we must understand that altruism and joviality are key components in the development of a healthy spiritual nature, and neither can be achieved if they are marred by the negativity of anger.

Unfortunately, a lot of anger and frustration today is generated at people's places of work, many hours spent there tending to be stressful and irritating. I've experienced this nausea first hand, having manned the telephones in a call centre, worked as a fry cook in a fast food restaurant, and collected clothes as a picker in a warehouse. But, there are things we can do to improve our spiritual health during these situations.

Taking heed of Nhat Hanh’s wisdom, it is possible to develop a personalized pre-work ritual. Begin by reciting a specific positive mantra, then take a few seconds to inwardly focus, and, as you return to recognizing the external environment, smile. This simple, subtle technique can help to transcend ire and find a peace that may have been thought impossible in those circumstances.

Other activities such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi chuan add substance to life and continue to guide us down a spiritual path, which we are able to share with friends and partners on an intimate level. They can help us develop a personalized understanding of spirituality, although maybe not a conventional one.

By realizing that spirituality, sensuality, and sexuality are all intertwined and independent from religion, we can begin to see the divine in everything and live moment to moment on a more spiritual path.

Peace and love.

Author's Bio: 

Cameron Fraser has dedicated his life to researching the phenomenological nature of the Human experience. He is an authority on the evolution of spirituality and psychonautics, especially the development of awareness and mindfulness. He has had articles published in Paradigm Shift Magazine and conducted studies concerning emotional intelligence as well as ethical decision making.

Fraser has studied Western psychology and psychotherapy at several prominent American universities. He also practiced Peyotism with the medicine men of the Sonoran Desert. In Thailand, he ordained as a Buddhist monk of the Theravada tradition and in Peru, he learnt Shamanism from the ayahuasqueros of the Amazon rainforest. He is also a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation and has been a participant in a study on psilocybin micro-dosing.

Fraser is a pioneer of consciousness. He has been honored by Lifeline WA with a community leadership award for championing the cause of mental health and emotional wellbeing. A successful speaker, he has addressed audiences at various universities and schools across America and Australia. As a personal tutor and coach, he has also helped many students overcome their academic struggles.