Last updated on March 27th, 2019 at 07:47 pm


Words are confusing—they demand time and space. Think about it; what makes a tree a tree? In other words, how much time is required to define the concept “tree” and what would be the outcome? A large plant with leaves, branches, a trunk and roots?

Obviously, this definition is a bit vague. It gives us an overall image of a tree, but this image isn’t a universal one. On the contrary, there are many species of trees: oak, fir, pine, elm, beech, etc. Hence, different people have different opinions of what the ideal image of a tree would look like. I, for example, like beeches a lot. Therefore, my ideal image of a tree would look like a beech. Even if we’re specific about the nouns in our definition—for example, “a large plant measuring at least five metres in height with at least 150 branches; lawn-green leaves; a brown, crusty trunk; and underground roots”—there’s absolutely no chance of grasping a universal notion of a tree that would encompass all existing trees. Thus, we categorize these trees, and the ones that look alike are bound by the same species name. Problem solved. Or is it?

Superficially, yes. There isn’t a soul in the world who would call a beech a fir (or vice versa), except perhaps the famous Belgian painter René Magritte who called the image of a pipe a not-pipe: “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.” In other words, the image is an illusion because it’s not the actual thing itself; namely, a real tangible pipe. Salvador Dalí also had some serious doubts about the consistency of the outer world—the world of our senses—and was fascinated by objects and creatures that seemingly didn’t belong to our realm of distinct forms and precise logic. Both Magritte and Dalí were called “surrealists,” but perhaps they were more “realist” than those who called them that.

However, what exactly could these two great painters tell us? Well, we learn that the image of a pipe is indeed not the thing itself; it merely gives us the illusion that there’s an actual pipe on the canvas. Obviously, there’s only canvas and paint. In fact, it’s merely the way in which the paint is spread out by the painter that gives us the impression that there is a pipe. The observer can decode the image of a pipe because, in school, he or she learned that the image of a pipe is a pipe. If, on the other hand, the observer came from a part of the world where pipes don’t exist, he or she surely wouldn’t recognize the image and would perhaps even ask what it was for.

As you can see, the recognition of the image (or word) requires both time and space. Just look at the previous paragraphs, considering the time you need to read them and the space on the page required to write them down, and see this for yourself. Convinced?

Thus, a word or an image cannot exist as outlined above if there’s no initial analysis by the observer. First, the observer has to look at the image of, for instance, a pipe. Secondly, he or she must analyze its nature. Finally, he or she must come to the conclusion as to whether the image can be categorized as a pipe. In fact, during this process, there’s never an immediate and complete understanding of the thing-as-such, and the same is true with words.


If words are so confusing, why do we waste our energy on them? Why make such a great fuss about spirituality and all its ungraspable and complicated notions such as “ascension,” “Oneness,” “non-duality,” “mind,” “spirit,” “etheric body,” “higher self,” “lower self,” “living in the moment” and the like? If the words “pipe” and “tree” are already so confusing, how difficult would it be to come to an understanding of these abstract, so-called “spiritual” concepts? Haven’t we lost enough energy already? Who has the free time and space to worry about these things? Moreover, what does doing so bring to our lives? Does it bring about any release? Does it make our lives easier? Would we really be any happier if we were to understand these ideas?

What is life more than life itself? Is it not important to learn to live before wanting to escape? Why worry about ascension or upgrading to any higher form of consciousness when we haven’t even experienced life in all its glory and splendour? What’s so wrong about doing that? What is it about life that’s so repelling? In other words, why do people so commonly want to escape their current situations?

The trap of the whole arena of spirituality, which is just another form of belief, lies simply in the use of luscious and persuasive words and concepts. To the observer, the enchanting words often represent an ideal escape from the misery, boredom and suffering present in daily life. Although doubtlessly bona fide and benign, the eloquent and convincing spiritual concepts—I’m sure you know the whole bunch—offer the ignorant truth-seeker an immediate certainty and security. He or she will be saved if he or she becomes a spiritual being. Therefore, we’re back to the starting point: the whole realm of spirituality has degenerated into the next corny version of any other belief.

Again, the core of the problem lies in the words themselves. Words, just like images, are rigid concepts that require space and time. They are, in fact, enchanting because they make the observer feel as if they’re healing, recovering, progressing, or improving. Healing, recovery, progress, and improvement are all merely ideals, though, and thus complete and utter illusions. Remember Magritte: “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”—this is not a pipe. Ergo, “Ceci n’est pas du spiritualité”—this is not spirituality.


What is spirituality, then? It must certainly mean something! Are we all being fooled here? Indeed, we are. As long as we keep holding onto any spiritual or religious concepts, humanity will never be free. Any belief, despite how constructive or altruistic it may sound, is just another escape from reality and, therefore, requires space and time (energy).

To stand completely alone, deprived from any belief, is the first step towards freedom. And what could freedom mean, other than to be fully released from all burdens and expendables: beliefs, dogmas, rules, conventions, ideals and so on?

Statue of Liberty - Opinion piece on spirituality

If spirituality has any meaning, it would be freedom and liberty. In that sense, the Statue of Liberty is a mighty symbol, a prime example for the inhabitants of America and surely the rest of the world. It has nothing to do with the liberty to do what you want without any limitations or restrictions, but with the freedom of mind and spirit. It was right there all the time, right in front of our eyes. It suggested what humanity could be, a Great Dream, but instead our actions led to nothing but war, divisions, discrimination, intolerance, violence, corruption and inequality. We  brought about all that just so we could persist in our beliefs and ideals. Is that really freedom? Haven’t we learned anything?


Resistance is the opposite of freedom. Moreover, resistance is the essence of our human existence. If spirituality could be defined—although it cannot be—then it would be nothing more than “the release of all resistance and, consequently, the freedom of mind and spirit.”

All resistance is dependency on an idea or a belief, whereby the idea (represented in words) is nothing more than an enchanted illusion that promises the survival of the Ego. Ergo, every religion or other form of spirituality that is dogmatic is a form of hate. Love is not a corny sentiment, but the volition of every individual who is ready to let go of all the resistance in their life and forgive anyone who has caused them pain and suffering. It’s that “easy.”

The stiffness and rigidity we feel in our daily lives, which we call “suffering,” is precisely the result of resistance from the past. Indeed, what we resist persists! Only the acceptance of that-which-is, no matter how difficult or grotesque that may be, will release us from our pain and suffering. In that sense, spirituality is nothing more than the acceptance of reality and, consequently, the release of resistance towards that reality.

What remains when all resistance is gone is pure freedom and liberty, and nothing more than life itself. However, if it’s true that our resistance creates a corresponding reality through persistence, then it must also be true that we’re able to create our own reality when all resistance is gone. Moreover, we must realize that the situations we’re presently in are merely the result of resistance we’ve built up in the past, and are therefore creations of our own minds. We become what we think. The outer world is a reflection of the inner world.

Rejoice life.

by Pieter Van Cauwenbergh
image 1: surrealmuse (Creative Commons BY-NC-SA / Cropped from original); image 2: Pauldc via Compfight CC
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