Spiritual

The realm of the physical body and that of our mind and the social context we operate in are easily discernible in everyday life. That which is spiritual is more elusive and harder to define in concrete terms. 

How often have you heard the phrase "He or She is very spiritual," but what does that actually mean? I have struggled with this for years. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard it and yet when I look at the person themselves I do not see anything that strikes me as inherently "spiritual." I see some of them as mentally and emotionally balanced and calm, some as wise, some as loving yet none of this strikes me as being truly spiritual. They appear to be people who have learned to master their mind, emotions and social context to a higher degree than many but that is all I see. I see nothing that appears intrinsically spiritual.

What do we mean by something being spiritual?

The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning "breath."

Over the last few hundred years the meaning of the word has changed and evolved:

c. 1300, "immediate influence of God or a god," especially that under which the holy books were written, from Old French inspiracion "inhaling, breathing in; inspiration," from Late Latin inspirationem (nominative inspiratio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin inspirare "inspire, inflame, blow into," from in- "in" (see in- (2)) + spirare "to breathe" (see spirit). Literal sense "act of inhaling" attested in English from 1560s. Meaning "one who inspires others" is attested by 1867.

mid-13c., "animating or vital principle in man and animals," from Anglo-French spirit, Old French espirit "spirit, soul" (12c., Modern French esprit) and directly from Latin spiritus "a breathing (respiration, and of the wind), breath; breath of a god," hence "inspiration; breath of life," hence "life;" also "disposition, character; high spirit, vigor, courage; pride, arrogance," related to spirare "to breathe," perhaps from PIE *(s)peis- "to blow" (cognates: Old Church Slavonic pisto "to play on the flute"). But de Vaan says "Possibly an onomatopoeic formation imitating the sound of breathing. There are no direct cognates."

Meaning "supernatural immaterial creature; angel, demon; an apparition, invisible corporeal being of an airy nature" is attested from mid-14c.; from late 14c. as "a ghost" (see ghost (n.)). From c. 1500 as "a nature, character"; sense of "essential principle of something" (in a non-theological context, as in Spirit of St. Louis) is attested from 1680s, common after 1800; Spirit of '76 in reference to the qualities that sparked and sustained the American Revolution is attested by 1797 in William Cobbett's "Porcupine's Gazette and Daily Advertiser."

From late 14c. in alchemy as "volatile substance; distillate;" from c. 1500 as "substance capable of uniting the fixed and the volatile elements of the philosopher's stone." Hence spirits "volatile substance;" sense narrowed to "strong alcoholic liquor" by 1670s. This also is the sense in spirit level (1768). Also from mid-14c. as "character, disposition; way of thinking and feeling, state of mind; source of a human desire;" in Middle English freedom of spirit meant "freedom of choice." From late 14c. as "divine substance, divine mind, God;" also "Christ" or His divine nature; "the Holy Ghost; divine power;" also, "extension of divine power to man; inspiration, a charismatic state; charismatic power, especially of prophecy." Also "essential nature, essential quality." From 1580s in metaphoric sense "animation, vitality."

“The connection between spirit and life is one of those problems involving factors of such complexity that we have to be on our guard lest we ourselves get caught in the net of words in which we seek to ensnare these great enigmas. For how can we bring into the orbit of our thought those limitless complexities of life which we call "Spirit" or "Life" unless we clothe them in verbal concepts, themselves mere counters of the intellect? The mistrust of verbal concepts, inconvenient as it is, nevertheless seems to me to be very much in place in speaking of fundamentals. "Spirit" and "Life" are familiar enough words to us, very old acquaintances in fact, pawns that for thousands of years have been pushed back and forth on the thinker's chessboard. The problem must have begun in the grey dawn of time, when someone made the bewildering discovery that the living breath which left the body of the dying man in the last death-rattle meant more than just air in motion. It can scarcely be an accident onomatopoeic words like ruach, ruch, roho (Hebrew, Arabic, Swahili) mean ‘spirit’ no less clearly than the Greek πνεύμα and the Latin spiritus.” “Nature and Spirit,” C. G. Jung

I consider spirit as that which inspires, is greater than the self and connects one to all things.