Tracing the Origins of Spirituality: When and Where Did It Start?

Every journey has a beginning. Even spirituality. Let’s unravel its origins.


Prehistoric Beginnings

We’re talking Stone Age ancient. Spirituality began with early humans. It started with wonder. Curiosity.

Early humans saw the world around them. The sun, the moon, the stars. They felt a connection. They started rituals. Art. Symbolic behaviors. These were the seeds of spirituality.


No Single Founder

Who started spirituality? No one person. It wasn’t like religion. There was no Moses, no Buddha, no Jesus.

It was a collective spiritual awakening. An evolution of consciousness. Across tribes. Across cultures. Across time.


The Evolution of Spirituality

Spirituality didn’t stop with early humans. It evolved. Grew. Let’s see how.


Spirituality and Religion

As civilization progressed, spirituality took new forms. Religions were born. Hinduism. Buddhism. Christianity. Islam.

These religions had spiritual aspects. Belief in something greater. Moral codes. Meditation and prayer. Spirituality found a home within religion.

We can be sure of one thing. There are millions of people around the world who would fervently argue that their religions’ founders were the TRUE founders of spiritualism, but that’s just not true.

The spiritual experience for human beings is ingrained in every human being who ever lived. Even if most didn’t/don’t know it. Even the earliest cave people would have experienced “spirituality” from time to time. When they looked up at a clear starry sky at night or waded into a river, lake, or ocean. When they looked into the eyes of their newborns.

So, the best answer to “who were the first spiritualists” would have to be “whoever the first homo-sapiens were”. When the first human brains came into existence. Animals and nature are completely immersed in “the now” of life. Only human beings have “minds” that must grapple with “the meaning of life”, “what are we doing here”, and “what does it all mean”.

This human gift (some would say curse) to have minds, egos, emotions of love, hate, jealousy, compassion empathy, and wonder are the only living beings who experience what we decided to call “spirituality”.

As I’m writing this, I’m watching a very VERY sad Netflix series with my wife called “From Scratch”. A true story about a young Italian chef who dies young from cancer in Los Angeles. Almost the entire time I wept, and it reminded me how much of an intense spiritual connection we humans can feel when we feel gut-wrenching empathy for other human beings.
Next time you find yourself weeping long-term while watching a sad movie notice all the strong emotions manifesting in your body.

You are having a quintessential human experience and you are dancing in the doorway of spirituality. Of course, you aren’t in a transcendent state at that point. That comes when you are watching your human mind and thoughts with a very stoic, loving, and accepting glance.

But our raw emotions can snap us “out of our minds”, causing our bodies to react. Not a lot of judgment or worry goes through our minds at that point. It’s a perfect time to take advantage of the moment and step into the spiritual realm.


The Modern Understanding

Fast forward to today. Spirituality is still evolving. It’s personal. It’s individual.

People are exploring spirituality outside religion. Meditation. Yoga. Nature. Self-reflection. Spirituality is a personal journey of self-discovery and connection.


The Key Takeaways

Spirituality didn’t have a single starting point or founder. Sorry to disappoint.

Spiritualism evolved through religion because religion is what the ancient peoples turned to when in deep grief, fear, loss, and sadness.

And today, it’s a personal journey. A quest for connection. With the self. With the universe.

In essence, spirituality is humanity’s oldest quest. It’s our search for meaning. For connection.

For understanding our place in the universe. It’s a journey that continues today, as vibrant, and vital as ever.