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Spirituality must also be absence of control

People who study spirituality need to remember that it cannot be limited to a disciplinary mentality, a mentality of study, control and academic research. Spirituality means inner experience, which is also affection, heart, feeling, emotions, humor, sex, lack of control. Ancient history testifies that, in the past, religion was interwoven even with practices of sacred prostitution, dances, drunkenness, use of drugs. However, if, on one hand, the absence of control, programming, is a vital aspect of human existence, it is also clear that in such contexts troubled waters, trickery, imposture, loss of seriousness, of critical sense, and therefore of value, of spirituality itself, find a fertile ground. As a consequence, we have the problem of choosing between giving hospitality to the non-controlled and trying hypocritically to repress it, or even choosing a middle ground of moderation, half-measures, a way of being neither hot nor cold, which may even be worse than excesses.

In general, spirituality has no rules and does not forbid any, so that everyone can choose their rules, if, how and when to continue to abide by them or to stop doing so. It turns out that spirituality must necessarily be a pluralistic fact, since being with and without rules, with and without control, are ways of life that cannot be met simultaneously in one person. In other words, spirituality cannot have reference characters, such as Jesus is to Christianity, Buddha to Buddhism, Muhammad for Islam etc. In the context of Christianity, for example, Jesus is able to be the reference character at the cost of being a contradictory type on many points; issues arise easily and the contradictory nature of Jesus can even become the solution: he can be portrayed in the Gospels as sweet and severe, glutton and ascetic; however, it is difficult to portray him as male and female at the same time, and so sexism problems emerge hopelessly in the Church.

Anything pluralistic can be accused of confusion: this is, for example, an accusation that Catholics turn to Protestants, who are fragmented into innumerable ramifications. It is the eternal problem that repeatedly occurs even in politics, between democracy, dictatorship and middle ways. Trying to find definitive solutions to this problem would be a mistake, since pluralism means nothing more than becoming and we cannot expect to master the becoming of the world; we can only try to live there – I say to live, not to stay there – in the ways that each time we find better.

So, if a cold and academic discourse, in addition to the advantage of allowing a recovery of spirituality to the world of serious, valid and consistent things, has certainly its limitations, the remaining solution is to keep walking, to cultivate self-criticism: after all this is what we are doing by asking the presented questions. Protecting spirituality from anarchy, from impostors, from fake spiritualities that are just deceit, must be a job performed by spirituality itself, similarly to what happens in arts, in which, for example, a doodle could pretend to be a masterpiece, but in fact this does not happen thanks to a continuous work of criticism. Jesus did not protect the Church from deception and hypocrisy, but this happens to the extent that it is not a walking and does not practice criticism and self-criticism.