What is spirituality?

I very much like being a member of SHEN. Finding the time to do my share is, however, a difficult assignment. But let me right now take up one small item, namely saying something about what I think spirituality is. I will try to use language that makes it fitting to my own (Christian) tradition (of which there are, of course, many) as well as to make it plausible to people of other traditions.
Spirituality is for me an inescapable aspect of being human. Every one of us, as a person, is involved in innumerable relationships to other people, to other creatures, and to all the complexity interwoven by all these interrelationships. We relate with spouses, parents, children, family, friends, neighbors, fellow citizens on various civic levels, colleagues, buyers and sellers, artists, lawns, roses, the firmament, pets, sparrows and starlings, clothing, food, etc., etc., etc..
The last three symbols (etc., etc., etc.) are the key to our spirituality. They indicate that we cannot oversee the end of our relationships. Our relationships are experienced as without end, beyond our personal power, extending to points of origin and destiny we do not know. Our inability in this regard makes us extremely vulnerable in the face of death, suffering, and a deep understanding of what guides us in all this complexity. So we acknowledge that beyond the horizon of our experience we are faced with a mystery on the one hand and with the need to know something of that mystery on the other.
I use the term spiritual to name the total interrelatedness of all things in their relation to the mystery. In that way everything in reality has its own spirituality. But we humans, having a measure of responsibility in all of this, are so involved in the interrelationships to the mystery of reality that it is meaningful to recognize ourselves as spiritual beings, as spirits who themselves partly guide and shape the course of history.
Great spiritual traditions, as I see it, are fundamentally shaped by highly unusual experiences in the lives of spiritually very wise people, who derive enlightenment, insight, illumination, revelation or spiritual knowledge from these experiences. When in sharing these experiences with other people these others come to trust the revealed wisdom as guidance from the mystery that is beyond us and when they trust enough to use that wisdom is a guide for living, then traditions arise in which those who belong to the tradition record the original events and experiences, subsequent events and experiences, and wisdom derived from them in stories, poems, sayings, norms, and teachings that are regarded as wisdom unto life. They in turn give rise to spiritual practices such as rites and rituals which nourish our spirituality. The narrative record of a tradition and its special activities thus together becomes a source of guidance for every dimension of our lives.
If all of the above makes sense, then I am prepared to say that the greatest tragedy of our time is that we are loosing more and more touch with ourselves as spirits and with the spirituality that permeates all existence. The greatest enemies of spirituality I see in our own culture are the idea that reason is all we need to survive, that the world within our own experience is all there is, and that our most important aim is to gain power and control over and possession of the material reality of this world. This is in my view itself a spirituality, but a very strange one, because it quenches the spirit. The next important anti-spiritual force is that people who desire to maintain traditions of spirituality tend to forget that the spiritual truth of the mystery that comes to expression in the elements of a tradition cannot be identified with those elements. To keep the truth alive, traditions must be able to grow, develop, and change with the wisdom gained by wise people with contemporary unusual experiences, continuous with but going beyond a tradition's past.

Dr. Hendrik Hart