“Authentic spirituality involves an emotional response, what I will call the spiritual response, which can include feelings of significance, unity, awe, joy, acceptance, and consolation. Such feelings are intrinsically rewarding and so are sought out in their own right, but they also help us in dealing with difficult situations involving death, loss, and disappointment. The spiritual response thus helps meet our affective needs for both celebration and reconciliation. As Richard Dawkins puts it in his book Unweaving the Rainbow, we have an "appetite for wonder," an appetite for evoking the positive emotional states that are linked to our deepest existential questions.
But what might evoke these states? Spirituality often involves a cognitive context, a set of beliefs about oneself and the world which can both inspire the spiritual response and provide an interpretation of it. Our ideas about what ultimately exists, who we fundamentally are, and our place in the greater scheme of things form the cognitive context for spirituality. By contemplating such beliefs we are temporarily drawn out of the mundane into the realization of life’s deeper significance, and this realization generates emotional effects. But equally, the spiritual response thus generated is itself interpreted in the light of our basic beliefs; namely, it is taken to reflect the ultimate truth of our situation as we conceive it. The cognitive context of spirituality and the spiritual response are therefore linked tightly in reciprocal evocation and validation.
A third essential component of spirituality is what is ordinarily called spiritual practice. Since the intellectual appreciation of fundamental beliefs alone may not suffice to evoke a particularly deep experience, various non-cognitive techniques can help to access the spiritual response. Activities such as dance, singing, chant, meditation, and participation in various rituals and ceremonies all can play a role in moving us from the head to the heart. And it is in the heart, or gut, after all, where we find the most powerful intrinsic rewards of spirituality, as profound as its cognitive context might be.
Although the emotional content of the spiritual response - feelings of connection, significance, serenity, acceptance – is common to all spirituality, the background beliefs and specific practices vary tremendously. Almost all of us have the biological capacity to feel spiritually transported, but the cognitive context of those moments and the techniques to induce them are a matter of our culture. A fascinating variety of spiritual traditions have arisen, ranging from the rigorous, ascetic regimes of Zen meditation to the ecstatic communal celebration of a Sunday morning gospel service, and each tradition has its own conception of the world and the individual’s place in it. Stemming from these beliefs there are a multiplicity of spiritual objects of veneration, of deeper realities to be encountered: God, Earth, Nature, Emptiness, angels, devils, ancestors, previous incarnations, the Force, you name it (for a current, pop-cultural sampling of these, visit Beliefnet). For each tradition, spiritual experience is taken to be the direct appreciation of the ultimate truth about the world, a way to transcend one’s limited everyday perspective in the quest for meaning, unity, and serenity. “
"SPIRITUALITY is a state of consciousness that reflects engagement the deep and often urgent NEED to understand, a "need to know." The state of consciousness can be characterized in biological as well as phenomenological terms. The need reflects a biologically relevant need: it is to understand cause and effect relationships, a need expressed in all organisms (and living cells?) that change their behavior as a result of experience (learn, accommodate to their environments). Much of this need is accommodated by automatisms and acquired habit, but at the furthest end of the spectrum of expressions of this need is the awareness of phenomena that cannot be accommodated by our senses or cognition, they exceed our competence to understand and thereby create a sense of inferiority. The need to know is progressively energized by affect that is recruited by real or perceived urgency. This involves it intimately with the neuroendocrine stress system, the source of emotions.
Cause and effect relationships are the building blocks of the narratives --stories-- that affect if not direct our behavior. As such an adaptive tool, to be most useful, the story should be built of valid (veridical) phenomena. And should be reliable (consistently manifest). These are qualities which can be tested or taken on faith. Our confidence in the narrative is important to its utility and can vary with the qualities of validity and reliability. Narratives in which we are VERY confident are regarded as TRUTH."
Conscious awareness of an inadequate cognitive competence invites the engagement of NON-CONSCIOUS COGNITION, the "FORCE," the transpersonal consciousness, the transcendental ... on the other hand, "the best things can't be told..."