What are spiritual acts? In my book, The Instruction, I ask readers to imagine two alien races living on two distinctly different planets.

The first, the warlike Zrogs, are surrounded by noise and chaos. Isolated from each other, they care for nothing but their own immediate interests. The other, the Lanusians, are peaceful, concerned about their environment, and committed to ensuring a better world for their offspring.

The question I ask is, “Which of these two races is living the more spiritual existence?”

Is it more spiritual to continually wage war, or to coexist with others in a state of peace and harmony? Is it more spiritual to look out only for number one, or to share what you have with those less fortunate than yourself?

The answer, to most of us, is clear.

And that’s because we all instinctively know what it means to be spiritual. It’s why we generally tend to agree that concepts like truth, equality, understanding, and compassion are higher values.

Yet look at the world we live in.

We humans seem to have a lot more in common with the Zrogs than the Lanusians. Take peace for example.

In the last century, armed conflicts, genocide and various pogroms killed over 200 million of us. This century is shaping up to be equally destructive.

And what about equality? It sounds good on paper: “All men are created equal.” But how much real equality is there in the world?

America’s corporate bosses now make over 500 times the salary of the average worker.

That’s nothing, though, when you consider that half the world lives on less than two dollars a day. Even more sobering is the fact that in the time it takes those three billion people to earn their two dollars, 30,000 children under five will die from the effects of poverty.

So, let me ask you this: Which side are you on?

Are you a Zrog or a Lanusian? Are you in favor of self-interest, greed, aggression, and other Zrog values? Or do you support freedom, peace, equality, and those spiritual ideals represented by the Lanusians?

Assuming you identify more with the Lanusians, let me ask you another question: “What are you, as a spiritual person, going to do about it?”

The point is that spirituality is not some nebulous, airy-fairy concept. It has down-to-earth, real world implications.

True spirituality does not involve detaching yourself from the world and telling everyone how enlightened you are. It means acting from a place of love.

Spiritual acts are those things you do that help individuals or groups of people less fortunate than yourself.

When you do something that improves another’s life in some way, you’re acting from a place of love. Whether you volunteer at a soup kitchen, take to the streets to protest a war, or travel to a third world country to inoculate children, you’re helping other human beings, and that’s a spiritual act.

Thanks to the reciprocal nature of spiritual acts, when you give out love, you receive love back.

That’s why behaving selflessly can feel so good. In fact, it can help to give an otherwise unfulfilled life a profound sense of purpose. You don’t have to be a Lanusian to behave in a spiritual way. As I said, you already know what it means to be spiritual. You just have to remember that spirituality is an active rather than a passive pursuit.

Spiritual acts allow you to use your spirituality to become involved.

They offer you the opportunity to make the world a better place for this and subsequent generations and, at the same time, give your own life greater meaning.