A Nerdy Take on Spirituality

What I plan to say in this blog I’ve touched upon many times in previous blogs, so don’t expect anything new, just something slightly more nerdy. And possibly even more heretical – I really should get a warning sign for that.

I was pondering existence. That in and of itself is not yet nerdy, but I arrived at the ‘what exists?’ point. There are things we know exist because they are concrete. You can smell or hear them, and, if you are violently inclined, kick them. Then there are things that definitely exist, but are not concrete.

Neither the mind nor the heart are concrete – they exist but cannot be touched or heard or seen directly. They have to manifest themselves through a medium that IS concrete. The brain.

The brain itself is neither heart nor mind, but like a computer holds the information for both. In the brain both mind and heart manifest themselves. The ‘data’ from heart and mind is ‘read’ from the brain and ‘data’ meant for the heart and mind is ‘uploaded’ there.

The mind likes to think it can have all of it, and quieting the mind and getting into the heart means giving the mind less bandwidth to read or upload.

The result of a brain difference like autism is then, not that there is no mind or that there is no heart, but that the ‘reading’ and ‘uploading’ processes to the concrete medium in which they manifest themselves – brain – is not standard. Different procedures are required, and the results may look different.

What is spirituality? It is difficult to define, especially in this day and age where almost every stray thought is labelled as ‘spiritual’. Frequently people say that ‘this or that is spiritual’ or ‘this or that is unspiritual’ but what is, at its core, spirituality?

It has to be, once stripped down, that spirituality is the process by which the human spirit is attached more and more closely to the Spirit of God.

If that is so – and I might be very mistaken, seeing as I cannot be considered even a novice in these matters – then any act that promotes this attachment can be considered spiritual.

From that might follow that there are acts that are always spiritual in nature. They always aim towards this attachment. It is not automatic that they also work to the same degree in everyone, but neither will they undo that attachment. They have no other purpose than to try and enable it.

Likewise, there are acts that never promote this attachment because by their very nature they detach. It is their purpose to do so. To what degree may once again vary for each person.

And then there are many many acts that either attach, detach, or do nothing at all, also depending on the person. They are in and of themselves neutral, and only their use will determine the result.

Stripped down to that – spirituality is any act that promotes the process of attaching the human spirit to the Spirit of God – the tools and methods available to us to do so become numerous. And living a spiritual life consists only of doing those things that are most efficient for us – determined by the programming of the concrete medium through which our heart will then manifest itself, our brain – to achieve this ever-increasing attachment to Gods Spirit.

Autism is still relevant in this in the sense that it determines how the brain functions. But spirituality is not beyond our grasp at all – in the huge toolshed available there must be something we can use.

It’s just a matter of trying them out until we find the right ones.












2 thoughts on “A Nerdy Take on Spirituality

  1. I think spirituality at its core is trying to apply a meaning or purpose to life. If you think about what spirituality is and you arrive at ‘a connection to God’ , then in my opinion you’re only thinking about what spirituality means to you.
    In that sense I’m unsure what you mean by finding the right ‘tools’ to ‘achieve spirituality’.
    It seems you are somehow worried Autism stands in the way of experiencing spirituality the same way other people do.
    Probably every single person in the world, also the ones of the same spiritual convictions, experience their spirituality differently.


    1. Obviously I am writing from a different bias than yours (bias used in the most neutral sense of the word). As you may have noticed from the title of the blog, as well as from what I said in the very first blog, this is a blog for adults with autism who are also Orthodox Christians. For (Orthodox) Christians, spirituality IS a relationship with God. I am not writing about spirituality in general; I am attempting to explore how to build a relationship with God as an Orthodox Christian who also has autism.

      Since autism does affect the way we relate to others, the whole point I have been trying to make is that no, of course we are not excluded from experiencing spirituality. But yes, at the same time, different brains function differently and as such, the ways in which we build that relationship with God will be different.

      That doesn’t just apply to us, of course; everyone travels his or her own path. Autism just has its own particular challenges, and is the only thing I CAN explore, because how should I know how other people’s brain work?

      With ‘tools’ I mean that over the course of 2000 years, the Orthodox Church has collected a treasure trove of traditions, practices, and teachings to help people build their relationship with God. There are so many because apparently, from the very beginning it was realized that people are not the same.

      As is wont to happen, some practices became more popular than others – trends, in some way, you might say – and not all of the current trends are suitable for a brain that doesn’t quite work in the way that of the majority does. That is what I meant with tools.

      Of course, all my blogs are exploring; as I’ve also said many times, the world in general and the church in particular has only just come to realize that autism exists, and that autistic children grow into autistic adults. So there is very little research done on spirituality, even in general. I am doing a little bit of that, not in general, but right where I am.


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