The word “spiritual” confounds me. There can’t be many other words in the English language that are so widely used and yet so poorly defined, simultaneously.
What exactly does that word mean? When I was a Christian, I would have said that it related to our spirits. That definition would have been satisfactory back then, as I assumed everyone had a spirit (whatever that is). Nowadays I realise that this is just defining one undefined term by referencing another equally undefined term.
In the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts that make up the Christian canon, the words usually translated as “spirit” actually mean breath or wind. So for the people of the ancient Near East, spirit was synonymous with breath. However, this original meaning has long gone out of common usage.
For some, “spiritual” means moral, transcendent, enjoyable, mentally calming or any number of other things. Some use the same word, “spiritual,” to mean all these things interchangeably, and more besides, such that it is hard to pin them down to a definition.
As far as I’m aware, the Buddha never taught that we have spirits or souls. Our bodies are conditioned phenomena and are thus impermanent, and there is no evidence to suggest that we have any sort of existence apart from our bodies. So why use the term “spiritual” at all?
To me, Buddhism is a mentally, emotionally, intellectually and even physically fulfilling path. Some might call that the very definition of spirituality or a spiritual path. If the word makes sense to them, that’s fine by me. Personally, though, I see no need to call it “spiritual” when there are other words that are equally adequate and, to me, far more meaningful, to describe it.