Spiritual awareness is quite simply the awareness that there is more to life than meets the eye. Of course there are levels of complexity and advancement that unfold within us as we become more awake to spiritual principles in our lives and in the world at large.
Quite often this awareness is filtered through the lens of belief, and there are many different languages (beliefs) about how to approach and cultivate spiritual awareness, but they are all pointing to the same thing. I've always liked the Rumi quote:
"The lamps are different but the light is the same"
because it beautifully illustrates this principle.
Spiritual awareness is the intuitive understanding of a unifying force in the universe. There are numerous explanations for that unity. Some use the term God or Spirit, others explore it using empathy and ethics and others prefer the route of science. Regardless, the goal is the same: to find meaning and order in the face of uncertainty and chaos. I should note that spirituality and religion are not mutually exclusive, and one can be spiritual yet not religious and religious yet not spiritual.
When we are blocked, resistant or indifferent to developing spiritual awareness it usually stems from one of three states: fear, misinformation and bias or ego, and quite often all three of three states function together.
Fear is one of the primary blocks to developing spiritual awareness. When we are fearful we purposely limit our worldview. There's a good, biological reason for this. When in fear it is dangerous to be too globally focused because our survival depends on a myopic, yet hyper vigilant awareness of the perceived danger in front of us. When we are in fear our ability to see a bigger picture is overridden by a necessity to thwart impending threats. In the case of spiritual awareness many people cut off the desire for spiritual awareness because of a fear of the implications of larger universal principles on their everyday life.
Fear is typically paired with misinformation and bias, the second block; because fear needs fuel and that fuel often comes in the way of misperceptions and unexplored biases we're told about what being spiritual is from other people or institutions. Some people fear spiritual awareness because it shifts their focus to a world of intangible possibilities which are not fully understood through the five primary senses, which can thus be dangerous because "the rules are different".
Those who have a strong desire to maintain their groundedness may resist exploring spiritual depths out of a fear of becoming the mercy of unseen forces and mysterious happenings, and as such become willingly or unwillingly unaware of the "big picture".
Misinformation and Bias
Many people resist exploring spirituality because of misinformation about what it means to be spiritual. Many atheists often turn away from spiritual concepts because they correctly see people claiming spiritual awareness committing atrocious and unkind acts against their fellow human beings. Who needs spirituality if it creates strife and turmoil, right? Other people believe that spirituality means bypassing scientific or factual information in favor of magical solutions.
Additionally, spirituality has been associated over the years with wooly headed idealism or dogmatic rules that seem exclusionary, limiting and condemning. I notice this particularly with young, educated intellectuals and liberally minded creatives, who witnessed the double standards and ideological hatred of religious adherents.
Some people are more biased toward a scientific and rational explanation of the world and find spirituality to be in defiance of "reasonable" verifiable explanations. This is because over the course of the past 150 years there has been a shift toward the secularization and materialization of the world that has failed to develop and nurture mystery, intuition and emotion as legitimate and important aspects of human life. In the West we have become obsessed with quantification and progress believing that pursuing spiritual awareness is futile, unproductive, unnecessary or regressive.
An overvaluation of one's own singular expression in the world can create a condition where one believes themselves or their species (in this case human beings) to be alone, functioning solely on the basis of their own volition, influenced by nothing else but each other and their environment (which we try to control as much as possible through industrialization).
Ironically the belief that we are "alone" often stems from a desire and hope that we are not alone but a lacks connection or trust in the intuitive awareness of a more encompassing unifying force. Sometimes we believe only in our own tangible willpower and exertion in the material world (which amounts again to an over-focus the idea of progress and productivity).
We may also stubbornly turn away from spiritual awareness out of grief or turmoil because spiritual intervention doesn't happen in the way we want, or think it should. We can begin to think that we know better how "the way of it" should unfold and become resistant at the thought of a higher purpose at work because we cannot see the bigger picture at any given time.
When ego is a blog we begin to believe thoughts like, "would God let ______ happen" due to misinformation and bias about what we think (or have been told) God/Spirit is and rather than developing our own intuitive definition of those concepts we reject the standard definitions without filling in the gaps with our felt sense.
Ultimately when we identify solely with our individual or human identity in the world we miss synchronicities, miraculousness and serendipity because we believe we are at the center of the universe. This is in essence a condition, particularly of the West, where our own intellectual neuroses and hyper-focus on rationality and reason has overthrown intuition and feeling. This happened largely in part due to the masculinization of the world and the subsequent devaluation of the feminine principles.
The effects of this sort of cultural narcissism has replaced spirit and the divine with microscopes, information and technology in the hopes that they will provide the certainty in the world we need. Ultimately this falls flat and we find ourselves grasping even more ravenously for meaning.