From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Spirituality is, in a narrow sense, a concern with matters of the spirit. The spiritual, concerning as it does eternal verities regarding Man's ultimate nature, is often contrasted with the temporal or the worldly. It may include belief in supernatural powers, as in religion, but the emphasis is on personal experience. It may be an expression for life perceived as higher, more complex or more integrated
with one's worldview, as contrasted with the merely sensual.
The spiritual and the religious
An important distinction needs to be made between spirituality in religion and spirituality as opposed to
In recent years, spirituality in religion often carries connotations of the believer's faith being more personal, less dogmatic, more open to new ideas and myriad influences, and more pluralistic than the faiths of
established religions. It also can connote the nature of a believer's personal relationship with God, as opposed to the general
relationship ywith Deity understood to be shared by all members of that faith.
Those who speak of spirituality as opposed to religion generally believe that there are many "spiritual paths" and
that there is no objective truth about which is the best path to follow. Rather, adherents of this definition of the term emphasize the importance of finding
one's own path to God, rather than following what others say works. The best way to describe this view is: the path which
makes the most sense is the correct one (for oneself). Many adherents of orthodox religions who consider spirituality to be an aspect of their religious experience are more likely to contrast spirituality
with secular "worldliness" than with the ritual expression of their religion.
Others of a more New Age disposition hold that spirituality is not religion, per se, but the active and vital connection to a force, spirit,
or sense of the deep self. As cultural historian and yogi William Irwin Thompson put it, "Religion is not identical with spirituality; rather religion is the form spirituality takes in civilization." (1981,
One aspect of 'Being spiritual' is goal-directed, with aims such as: simultaneously improve one's wisdom and willpower, achieve a closer connection to Deity/the universe, and remove illusions or false ideas at the sensory, feeling
and thinking aspects of a person. The 'Plato's cave' analogy in book VII of The Republic is one of the most well known descriptions of the spiritual development process,
and thus, an excellent aid in understanding what "spiritual development" exactly entails.
Others say that spirituality is a two-stroke process: the "upward stroke" is inner growth, changing oneself as one changes
his/her relationship with God, and the "downward stroke" is manifesting improvements in the physical reality around oneself
as a result of the inward change. Another connotation is that change will come onto itself with the realization that all is
oneself; whereupon the divine inward manifests the diverse outward for experience and progress.
Spirituality and personal well-being
Spirituality, according to most adherants, is an essential part of an individual's holistic health and well-being.
Due to its broad scope and personal nature, however, spirituality can perhaps be better understood by highlighting key
concepts that arise when people are asked to describe what spirituality means to them. Research by Martsolf and Mickley (1998)
highlighted the following areas as worthy of consideration:
- Meaning – significance of life; making sense of situations; deriving purpose.
- Transcendence – experience, awareness, and appreciation of a "transcendent dimension" to life beyond self.
- Connecting – increased awareness of a connection with self, others, God/Spirit/Divine, and nature.
- Becoming – an unfolding of life that demands reflection and experience; includes a sense of who one is and how one
The Spiritual and Science
Analysis of spiritual qualities in science is bedeviled by the imprecision of spiritual concepts, the subjectivity of spiritual
experience, and the amount of work required to translate and map observable components of a spiritual system into empirical
Spiritual traditions and communities
- Bahá'í Faith
- Buddhism, Jainism
- Catholic Spirituality
- Christianity (Holy Spirit, Pentecostalism)
- Esoteric Christianity
- Feminist spirituality
- Hinduism, Hare Krishna
- Islam, Sufism
- Judaism, Kaballah
- Neo-confucianism, Taoism
- New Age, New Thought, Spiritualism, The Dances of Universal Peace
- Paganism, Neopaganism, Modern Gallae
- Surat Shabda Yoga
- Unitarian Universalism
- Azeemi,K.S.Muraqaba: The Art and Science of Sufi Meditation. Houston: Plato, 2005.(ISBN 0975887548)
- Bolman, L. G., and Deal, T. E. Leading With Soul. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995.
- Borysenko, J. A Woman's Journey to God. New York: Riverhead Books, 1999.
- Cannon, K. G. Katie's Canon: Womanism and the Soul of the Black Community. New York: Continuum, 1996.
- Deloria, V., Jr. God is Red. 2d Ed. Golden, Co: North American Press, 1992.
- Dillard, C. B.; Abdur-Rashid, D.; and Tyson, C. A. "My Soul is a Witness." International Journal of Qualitative
Studies in Education 13, no. 5 (September 2000): 447-462.
- Dirkx, J. M. "Nurturing Soul in Adult Learning." in Transformative Learning in Action. New Directions
for Adult and Continuing Education No. 74, edited by P. Cranton, pp. 79-88. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997.
- Eck, D. A New Religious America. San Francisco: Harper, 2001.
- Elkins D.N. et al (1998)Toward a humanistic-phenomenological spirituality: definition, description and measurement. Journal
of Humanistic Psychology 28(4), 5-18
- English, L., and Gillen, M., eds. Addressing the Spiritual Dimensions of Adult Learning. New Directions for
Adult and Continuing Education, No. 85. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000.
- Hein, David. "Christianity and Traditional Lakota / Dakota Spirituality: A Jamesian Interpretation." The McNeese Review
35 (1997): 128-38.
- Hein, David, ed. Readings in Anglican Spirituality. Cincinnati: Forward Movement, 1991.
- Hein, David, and Edward Hugh Henderson. Captured by the Crucified: The Practical Theology of Austin Farrer. New
York and London: Continuum / T & T Clark, 2004. About the spiritual theology of Austin Farrer; includes chapter on "Farrer's Spirituality" by Diogenes Allen.
- Holtje, D. (1995). From Light to Sound: The Spiritual Progression. Temecula, CA: MasterPath, Inc. ISBN 1885949006
- Martsolf D.S. & Mickley J.R. (1998) "The concept of spirituality in nursing theories: differing world-views and extent
of focus" Journal of Advanced Nursing 27, 294-303
- Perry, W. A Treasury of Traditional Wisdom - An Encyclopedia of Humankind’s Spiritual Truth. Louisville: Fons Vitae books, 2000
- Thompson, William Irwin, The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality, and the Origins of Culture
(New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981).