I have several reasons for not discussing “spirituality” with the freedom I desire. The first and most important is that spirituality presents itself to me as a mystery on which maybe it is better to be silent. But I insist maybe because the mystery itself demands it of me: when I consider it, I don’t know if I should really be silent or elaborate. “Perhaps” human language contains that particular magic needed to explain and understand the spiritual. However, it is also possible that the word spirituality is only the door to this inexpressible and invisible space. Talking about it, we are really only talking about the door.
The second reason for not approaching spirituality with ease is a certain modesty in front of the high term and the elementality of my approaches. This modesty, which makes me blush, also asks me to be discreet and not to brag about having achieved something that I am still far from. I live it like those who are afraid to call themselves poets just for writing some good verses. This modesty, I insist, accompanied by its inevitable blushing, is also good.
The third reason concerns the inevitable questions on the subject: doubts as to the real existence of this invisible territory which we call spirituality or if all reality is ultimately reduced to the visible (as scientists claim). These are legitimate questions which, as Karl Jaspers explains, prevent us from falling into fanaticism. “Even the purest clarity must not lead us to such certainty of ourselves that we believe our path is the only true one for all. In all transparency, one can embark on a wrong path,” says the German philosopher, and therefore ends up attaching the deepest importance to humility.
Despite these three good reasons for not talking too much about the subject, on several occasions I cling to the idea of offering the educational community a kind of return to spirituality in the classroom, or at least a space open to school to discuss it freely. However, even after writing this, I still blush, not from that humble blush of my first three reasons, but from genuine shame. Something inside me wonders how I can expose myself like this. Oh good? Spirituality in the classroom? Have I considered all the horrible things my readers may associate with me?
Yes, of course, I know them, and I can’t help but shudder: they are the fourth reason I’m afraid to propose. In fact, I’m sure many who have had bad experiences with so-called spiritual leaders have already put my text aside, recovering from anything resembling spirituality. So, I sincerely thank those who still follow me. After all, who hasn’t fallen victim to the spiritual corruption of our time at some point? “There is no worse evil than false good,” it has been said, so those of us who believe that spirituality is the the best of human thinks for the same reason that his misrepresentation harmed us all in something crucial.
Thus, it is clear to me that whoever intends to propose the resumption of spiritual education to the educational community must first move away precisely from those ideas and practices which today, rightly, cause us to flee from what has represented as “education.” Some of its proponents – again aided by reason – will say that religion does not have to pay for the broken dishes of its false proponents. And it is true; however, those who think so must also agree that, in practice, it is difficult to separate. Many generations have already taken precautions about the “spiritual” paths available to them. In doing so, they can lose a lot of precious things, but the risks are also huge, so looking for other ways to be at peace with themselves is best. Spirituality genuine truth would be prudent to hide a bit while clarifying the difference between this and the fake good.
Indeed, those of us who believe in true spirituality cannot but be grateful for this distinction marked by so many generations over the past century: atheism, agnosticism and the search for new religious options have filled a fundamental mission, that of removing obstacles so that authentic spirituality can once again break through, now with a long tail of rationality, including science, feminism, egalitarian struggles, the right to think and decide on one’s own body and to respect personal boundaries. The cauda is also full of rituals that are liberating, sensitive, inclusive, full of grounded knowledge and deep poetry (rituals which, as GK Chesterton said, may require us to take off our hats but not our heads). In short, these resources help free people up, not weigh them down further.
For many years, the most influential spiritual leaders in the West have attempted to “educate” large populations to stigmatize and persecute people who freely exercise sexuality, use contraceptives and homosexuality. Yet, one day, many ended up showing that they practiced all these options, and their only restriction was not to make them public. In my opinion, the real “sin” (to use their terms) does not lie in these practices, but in their persecution and concealment and something much more serious, beyond repression and guilt: to characterize these choice as being solely the domain of the vulnerable (and captive!) of the populations they have abused (and continue to abuse!) with complete impunity. The fake good in all its sinister splendour!
Today, it is common to speak of “herd immunity”. This pastoral term applies perfectly: those who were supposed to lead and protect the herd ended up spreading their own infection in it (more mental and spiritual than physical), leaving them insensitive to any real spirituality. Only a few lambs warned of the danger and fled in fear of the contagion. In schools, abuse opened the eyes of society not only to religious and educational spaces, but to all kinds of schools and places where children and young people were placed under the protection of adults. It is both a shame and a blessing that these practices are beginning to come to light.
The above is an example, perhaps the most outrageous for us, but not the only one. Equally serious things can be said about many other deviations from today’s “spirituality”: wear and tear in rituals, alignment with the unnecessary interest (a kind of shameless tendency to increase the size of the needle head so that the camel can pass), absence of strong leadership to deal with planetary ecological problems, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. To regain people’s trust, each of these problems should be tackled in depth, especially those directly related to education.
However, this article is not the space to do so. On another occasion, I will take the opportunity to talk about some fundamental points, such as the so-called “non-binarity”, which is beginning to be crucial in most schools. Those who thought that the hippie and political and artistic movements of the 60s in the last century were the most extreme juvenile transgressions that could happen are now shocked to realize that these were only the embryo of what is happening today today. To give the most visible example: the disruptor unisexuality in clothing and hairstyle has evolved into the freedom to permanently alter one’s body in almost every aspect, from skin color to genital and bone structures.
It should be noted that this type of freedom has not started in the last decade. It dates back to the first anatomical dissections of the human body in early modernity (previously prohibited) and developed fully with the medicine of the 19th and 20th centuries. Transforming the body today has a lot to do with advances in genomics, artificial intelligence and robotics Calorie Military History by Fabrizzio Guerrero McManus).
Like any human being, such changes are not unrelated to spirituality. On the contrary, some of us think it is its spearhead. A biased 19th century view forbade (with great success) the use of anesthesia during childbirth on the grounds that it went against the divine plan to “give birth with pain”. Today, a spirituality that renews itself can only honor the search for a relationship of freedom with one’s body and open and promote a deep dialogue to reinvent itself.
All this should not be absent from our classrooms.