There is something about Humanity and the collective personality that is very creative. We take the essences of things and then start adding to it and building on top of it. In a way, this may be how art and culture comes to be. For example, Theravada monks take a vow to live a very simple life. All they have is a begging bowl and robes to cover their bodies which are generously provided to them. The begging bowls come with holders that serve to hold the bowl up to the right level where it becomes easier to eat. Monks have a lot of time on their hands which can be dedicated to practice or other matters. So in the case of some monks, an interesting phenomenon can be observed.
They take the holders and start to ornament them. The materials, decorations and designs can become quite elaborate. Monks start to compare their creations and this whole endeavour often becomes a kind of competition. Something similar happens with their robes. Due to frequent use the fabric can easily tear. So the monks patch it up. And with more tears more patches are needed. These patches start to be a show of a monk’s hard work and austerity. Even when monks are offered new robes after the rainy season, they may decide to keep their old ones. Through this creative behaviour, the monks innocently lose sight of their obvious identification and attachment which is something a monk is ordained to be very mindful of. Yet it happens. We can also see this happening generally with spirituality around the world.
In all spiritual traditions, the essence of True Nature or Reality itself is either Oneness or Emptiness (formlessness) or both. Through the process of self-inquiry or exploration, one arrives at a form of direct experience and knowing which arises from Oneness or formlessness. In wisdom traditions, these processes of inquiry and attainment are then passed down orally, and then in written form, until they become abstract concepts and prescriptive moral codes. However, these concepts then somehow become the focus of the traditions and their correctness is being dogmatically reiterated, meanwhile the underlying essence is entirely lost. We are also seeing a lot of creativity in how Westerners are adopting the spiritual traditions of the East. Based on archaeological findings, yoga probably predates the Indus valley civilization in India that existed around 5000 B.C. The purpose of yoga is in its name: yoga means union. Yoga, as a spiritual practice was developed to help facilitate the Ultimate Union with one’s True nature. But through the creativity of the collective Western personality yoga has manifested into something very different. We now have Beer Yoga and Pirate Booty Yoga. Something similar has happened with Tantra. Traditionally Tantra is the highest teaching of both the Hindu and Buddhist traditions of India. It was and still is a vehicle for practitioners that have demonstrated a certain level of Consciousness, integration and maturity to bridge the gap between realization and Enlightenment in one life time. It shows the practitioner how to master the highest levels of manifestation, open up and be infinite boundless consciousness, and calls for a lifestyle of selfless service that honours all of manifestation and beyond. Here we can see that Tantra is entirely focused on Being Essence and in service to essence, while Western Tantra is more in service to pleasure at the level of the personality.
I hope that I have not offended anyone here, for it is not my intention. Although, in my view, spirituality has become very decorated and ornamented by all these new inventions as a true postmodern mesh up and it has taken a life of its own. (Various yogic techniques, manifesting, breath-work, yoga, tantra, cuddle parties, eye-gazing, ingestion of plant medicines and other exotic substances in the name of spirituality) Through this extravaganza, the essence of spirituality has become innocently buried. One may ask if there is anything wrong with this. Absolutely nothing! Life is to be experienced. This is how we learn. Life is also to be enjoyed and endowed with a sense of humour. So why not strengthen the body, open the energy channels, do breath-work, feel endorphin highs, feel joy and well-being at the level of the body. Work on psychology, have better relationships, have better, more present energetic love making and intimacy and be more connected to the emotional heart. Why not manifest and get what you want or be more psychologically balanced and harmonious? These are all practically helpful things that can not only make our lives better but even improve the world.
Spirituality on the other hand refers to Spirit and your true nature. And the first step is to know that your true nature is that which is beyond the personality. In fact something that is hidden by the attention and focus that the personality has required/acquired all your life. The essence of that which you truly are is also the foundation of life as a whole, seems to always be missed for its immanence is ungraspable for the personality. Knowing, Being and living from this place of Truth is Spiritual Integration. Some sages advise us to just relax, stop, drop everything (including the personality) and realize in this unchanging peace and silence that you are always there-this place of Spirit. When one is quiet, you will notice that Life or Spirit is always offering itself and communicating. You just have to be aware and receptive.