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Spirituality is the concept of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality;[1] an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the "deepest values and meanings by which people live."[2] Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop an individual's inner life. Spiritual experiences can include being connected to a larger reality, yielding a more comprehensive self; joining with other individuals or the human community; with nature or the cosmos; or with the divine realm.[3] Spirituality is often experienced as a source of inspiration or orientation in life.[4] It can encompass belief in immaterial realities or experiences of the immanent or transcendent nature of the world.



[edit] Definition

Traditionally, many religions have regarded spirituality as an integral aspect of religious experience. Among other factors, declining membership of organized religions and the growth of secularism in the western world have given rise to a broader view of spirituality.[5] The term "spiritual" is now frequently used in contexts in which the term "religious" was formerly employed; compare James' 1902 lectures on the "Varieties of Religious Experience".[6][7]
Secular spirituality emphasizes humanistic ideas on moral character (qualities such as love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, responsibility, harmony, and a concern for others[8]:22) - aspects of life and human experience which go beyond a purely materialist view of the world without necessarily accepting belief in a supernatural reality or divine being. Spiritual practices such as mindfulness and meditation can be experienced as beneficial or even necessary for human fulfillment without any supernatural interpretation or explanation. Spirituality in this context may be a matter of nurturing thoughts, emotions, words and actions that are in harmony with a belief that everything in the universe is mutually dependent; this stance has much in common with some versions of Buddhist spirituality. A modern definition is as follows:
"Spirituality exists wherever we struggle with the issues of how our lives fit into the greater scheme of things. This is true when our questions never give way to specific answers or give rise to specific practices such as prayer or meditation. We encounter spiritual issues every time we wonder where the universe comes from, why we are here, or what happens when we die. We also become spiritual when we become moved by values such as beauty, love, or creativity that seem to reveal a meaning or power beyond our visible world. An idea or practice is "spiritual" when it reveals our personal desire to establish a felt-relationship with the deepest meanings or powers governing life."[9]
The psychology of religion uses a variety of metrics to measure spirituality.[10]

[edit] Spiritual path

In a wide variety of traditions, spirituality is seen as a path toward one or more of the following: a higher state of awareness, perfection of one's own being, wisdom, or communion with God or with creation. Plato's Allegory of the Cave, which appears in book VII of The Republic, is a description of such a journey, as are the writings of Teresa of Avila. The Vedas and Upanishads also describe such a path of transformation.[citation needed]
Disciplines such a path entail may include meditation, prayer, and the contemplation of sacred texts; ethical development.[8] Love and/or compassion are often described as the mainstay of spiritual development.[8][11]

[edit] Religion

Whilst the terms spirituality and religion both relate to a search for an Absolute or God, and thus have much overlap, there are also characteristic differences in their usage. Religion implies a particular faith tradition that includes acceptance of a metaphysical or supernatural reality;[8]:22, whereas spirituality is not necessarily bound to any particular religious tradition. Thus William Irwin Thompson suggest that "religion is the form spirituality takes in a civilization."[12]
Those who speak of spirituality outside of religion often define themselves as "spiritual but not religious" and generally believe in the existence of different "spiritual paths," emphasizing the importance of finding one's own individual path to spirituality. According to one poll, about 24% of the United States population identifies itself as spiritual but not religious.[13]

[edit] Spirituality within particular religious traditions

In the Catholic Church, spirituality is generally seen as an integral part of religion, as much for the laity as for the 'religious' (i.e. those who have taken vows to the Church). There is a variety of charisms that emphasize particular ways to serve God and humanity. See Catholic spirituality, Ignatian spirituality.
For Anglican spirituality, see Anglican devotions.

[edit] Science

Since the scientific revolution, the relationship of science to religion and spirituality has developed in complex ways.[14][15] Historian John Hedley Brooke describes wide variations: "the natural sciences have been invested with religious meaning, with antireligious implications and, in many contexts, with no religious significance at all."[15]:16 The popular notion of antagonisms between science and religion[16][17] has historically originated with "thinkers with a social or political ax to grind" rather than with the natural philosophers themselves.[15]:13 Though physical and biological scientists today avoid supernatural explanations to describe reality[18][19][20] (see naturalism), many scientists continue to consider science and spirituality to be complementary, not contradictory.[21][22] Neuroscientists are trying to learn more about how the brain functions during reported spiritual experiences.[23][24]
During the twentieth century the relationship between science and spirituality has been influenced both by Freudian psychology, which has accentuated the boundaries between the two areas by accentuating individualism and secularism, and by developments in particle physics, which reopened the debate about complementarity between scientific and religious discourse and rekindled for many an interest in holistic conceptions of reality.[15]:322 These holistic conceptions were championed by New Age spiritualists in a type of quantum mysticism that they claim justifies their spiritual beliefs,[25][26] though quantum physicists themselves on the whole reject such attempts as being pseudoscientific.[27][28]

[edit] Personal well-being

In keeping with a general increase in interest in spirituality and complementary and alternative treatments, prayer has garnered attention among some behavioral scientists. Masters and Spielmans[29] have conducted a meta-analysis of the effects of distant intercessory prayer, but detected no discernible effects.
Spirituality has played a central role in self-help movements such as Alcoholics Anonymous: "...if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead...."[30]
Philosophers across many traditions, from Stoicism to Buddhism, have suggested that a spiritual practice is essential for personal well being. Such practices do not necessarily include a belief in supernatural beings. Contemporary authors, too, suggest that spirituality develops inner peace and forms a foundation for happiness. Meditation and similar practices may help any practitioner cultivate his or her inner life and character.[31][unreliable source?] [32]

[edit] Near-death experience (NDE)

If consciousness exists apart from the body, which includes the brain, one is attached not only to the material world, but to a non-temporal (spiritual) world as well. This thesis is considered to be analyzed by testing the reports from people who have experienced death. However, some researchers consider that NDEs are actually REM intrusions triggered in the brain by traumatic events like cardiac arrest.[33]

[edit] Sacredness

Social scientists have defined spirituality as the search for "the sacred," where "the sacred" is broadly defined as that which is set apart from the ordinary and worthy of veneration. Spirituality can be sought not only through traditional organized religions, but also through movements such as the feminist theology and ecological spirituality (see Green politics). Spirituality is associated with mental health, managing substance abuse, marital functioning, parenting, and coping. It has been suggested that spirituality also leads to finding purpose and meaning in life.[34]

[edit] Origin

See Timeline of religion and Evolutionary origin of religions

[edit] History

Words translatable as 'spirituality' first began to arise in the 5th century and only entered common use toward the end of the Middle Ages.[35] Spiritual innovators who operated within the context of a religious tradition often became marginalized or suppressed as heretics or separated out as schismatics. In these circumstances, anthropologists generally treat so-called "spiritual" practices such as shamanism in the sphere of the religious, and class even non-traditional activities such as those of Robespierre's Cult of the Supreme Being in the province of religion.[36]
Eighteenth-century Enlightenment thinkers, often opposed to clericalism and skeptical of religion, sometimes came to express their more emotional responses to the world under the rubric of "the Sublime" rather than discussing "spirituality". The spread of the ideas of modernity began to diminish the role of religion in society and in popular thought.[citation needed] Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) was a pioneer of the idea of spirituality as a distinct field.[37] Important early 20th century writers who studied the phenomenon of spirituality, and their works, include William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), and Rudolph Otto, especially The Idea of the Holy (1917).[citation needed] The distinction between the spiritual and the religious became more common in the popular mind during the late 20th century with the rise of secularism and the advent of the New Age movement. Authors such as Chris Griscom and Shirley MacLaine explored it in numerous ways in their books. Paul Heelas noted the development within New Age circles of what he called "seminar spirituality":[38] structured offerings complementing consumer choice with spiritual options.

[edit] Study

In the late 19th century a Pakistani scholar Khwaja Shamsuddin Azeemi wrote of and taught about the science of Islamic spirituality, of which the best known form remains the Sufi tradition (famous through Rumi and Hafiz) in which a spiritual master or pir transmits spiritual discipline to students.[39]
Building on both the Western esoteric tradition and theosophy,[40] Rudolf Steiner and others in the anthroposophic tradition have attempted to apply systematic methodology to the study of spiritual phenomena,[41] building upon ontological and epistemological questions that arose out of transcendental philosophy.[42] This enterprise does not attempt to redefine natural science, but to explore inner experience – especially our thinking – with the same rigor that we apply to outer (sensory) experience.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes and references

  1. ^ Ewert Cousins, preface to Antoine Faivre and Jacob Needleman, Modern Esoteric Spirituality, Crossroad Publishing 1992.
  2. ^ Philip Sheldrake, A Brief History of Spirituality, Wiley-Blackwell 2007 p. 1-2
  3. ^ Margaret A. Burkhardt and Mary Gail Nagai-Jacobson, Spirituality: living our connectedness, Delmar Cengage Learning, p. xiii
  4. ^ Kees Waaijman, Spirituality: forms, foundations,methods Leuven: Peeters, 2002 p. 1
  5. ^ Michael Hogan (2010). The Culture of Our Thinking in Relation to Spirituality. Nova Science Publishers: New York.
  6. ^ James, W. (1985). The varieties of religious experience. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Original work published 1902)
  7. ^ Gorsuch, R.L., & Miller, W. R. (1999). Assessing spirituality. In W. R. Miller (Ed), Integrating spirituality into treatment (pp. 47-64). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  8. ^ a b c d Dalai Lama, Ethics for the New Millennium, NY:Riverhead Books, 1999
  9. ^ Fuller, Robert C. Spiritual, But Not Religious. beliefnet.com. Retrieved on: 2011-12-03
  10. ^ Afton N. Kapuscinski & Kevin S. Masters (2010). "The current status of measures of spirituality: A critical review of scale development". Psychology of Religion and Spirituality (American Psychological Association) 2 (4): 191–205. doi:10.1037/a0020498. ISSN 1941-1022.
  11. ^ Kalchuri, Bhau: Meher Prabhu: Lord Meher, the Biography of the Avatar of the Age Meher Baba, Volume Eight, Manifestation, Inc., 1986, p. 22987.
  12. ^ Thompson, William Irwin (1981). The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality, and the Origins of Culture. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-312-16062-3. http://books.google.com/books?id=u3nB0NpAX60C.
  13. ^ http://www.beliefnet.com/News/2005/08/Newsweekbeliefnet-Poll-Results.aspx#spiritrel
  14. ^ Gascoigne, John (1988). Cambridge in the Age of the Enlightenment: Science, Religion and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 300.
  15. ^ a b c d Brooke, John Hedley (1991). Science and religion: some historical perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  16. ^ Applebaum, Wilbur. Encyclopedia of the scientific revolution: from Copernicus to Newton Volume 1800 of Garland reference library of the humanities. Psychology Press, 2000 ISBN 0-8153-1503-1, ISBN 978-0-8153-1503-2
  17. ^ R. Cruz Begay, MPH, DrPH, Science And Spirituality March 2003, Vol 93, No. 3 | American Journal of Public Health 363 American Public Health Association
  18. ^ Clarke, Steve. Naturalism, Science, and the Supernatural in Sophia From the issue entitled "Special APRA Issue" Volume 48, Number 2, 127-142, doi:10.1007/s11841-009-0099-2
  19. ^ Dawkins, R. (1986). The blind watchmaker. New York: Norton.
  20. ^ Stroud, B. (2004). The charm of naturalism. In M. De Caro & D. Macarthur (Eds.), Naturalism in question (pp. 21–35). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  21. ^ Richardson, W. Mark. Science and the spiritual quest: new essays by leading scientists Psychology Press, 2002 ISBN 0-415-25767-0, ISBN 978-0-415-25767-1
  22. ^ Giniger, Kenneth Seeman & Templeton, John. Spiritual evolution: scientists discuss their beliefs. Templeton Foundation Press, 1998. ISBN 1-890151-16-5, ISBN 978-1-890151-16-4
  23. ^ Alper, Matthew, The "God" Part of the Brain: A Scientific Interpretation of Human Spirituality and God Sourcebooks, Inc., 2008 ISBN 1-4022-1452-9, ISBN 978-1-4022-1452-3
  24. ^ Talan, Jamie Science Probes Spirituality February/March 2006: Scientific American Mind. [1]
  25. ^ Capra, Fritjof (1991 (1st ed. 1975)). The Tao of Physics: an exploration of the parallels between modern physics and Eastern mysticism, 3rd ed.. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications. ISBN 0-87773-594-8
  26. ^ Laszlo, Ervin, "CosMos:A Co-creator's Guide to the Whole World", Hay House, Inc, 2008, ISBN 1-4019-1891-3, pg. 53-58
  27. ^ Sheremer, Michael, Quantum Quackery in Scientific American (January 2005), 292, 34. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0105-34
  28. ^ Silverman, Mark P. Quantum superposition: counterintuitive consequences of coherence, entanglement, and interference Frontiers collection. Springer, 2008 ISBN 3-540-71883-4, ISBN 978-3-540-71883-3. p. 25
  29. ^ Masters, K.S.; Spielmans, G.I (2007). "Prayer and health: review, meta-analysis, and research agenda". Journal of Behavioral Medicine 30 (4): 329–338. doi:10.1007/s10865-007-9106-7. PMID 17487575.
  30. ^ Alcoholics Anonymous, p.14-15.
  31. ^ Wilkinson, Tony (2007). The lost art of being happy : spirituality for sceptics. Findhorn: Findhorn Press. ISBN 1844091163.
  32. ^ Browner, Matthieu Ricard ; translated by Jesse (2003). Happiness: A guide to developing life's most important skill. (1st pbk. ed. ed.). New York: Little Brown. ISBN 0316167258.
  33. ^ http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-life-after-death.htm
  34. ^ Snyder, C.R.; Lopez, Shane J. (2007). "11". Positive Psychology. Sage Publications, Inc.. ISBN 0-7619-2633-X
  35. ^ Jones, L. G., ""A thirst for god or consumer spirituality? Cultivating disciplined practices of being engaged by god," in L. Gregory Jones and James J. Buckley eds., Spirituality and Social Embodiment, Oxford: Blackwell, 1997, 3-28, p4, n4.
  36. ^ Jordan, David, "The Revolutionary Career of Maximilien Robespierre", University of Chicago Press, 1989, ISBN 0-226-41037-4, pg. 201
  37. ^ Schmidt, Leigh Eric. Restless Souls : The Making of American Spirituality. San Francisco: Harper, 2005. ISBN 0-06-054566-6
  38. ^ Paul Heelas, The New Age Movement: The Celebration of the Self and the Sacralization of Modernity. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996, page 60. Cited in Anthony Giddens: Sociology. Cambridge: Polity, 2001, page 554.
  39. ^ Azeemi,K.S., "Muraqaba: The Art and Science of Sufi Meditation". Houston: Plato, 2005. (ISBN 0-9758875-4-8), Pg. xi
  40. ^ Olav Hammer, Claiming Knowledge: Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age, ISBN 90-04-13638-X
  41. ^ Robert McDermott, The Essential Steiner, ISBN 0-06-065345-0, pp. 3-4
  42. ^ Jonael Schickler, Metaphysics as Christology: An odyssey of the Self from Kant and Hegel to Steiner (Ashgate New Critical Thinking: 2005) pp. 138ff

[edit] Further reading

  • A Course in Miracles. 2nd ed., Mill Valley: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1992, ISBN 0-9606388-9-X.
  • Azeemi, K.S.Muraqaba: The Art and Science of Sufi Meditation. Houston: Plato, 2005. (ISBN 0-9758875-4-8)
  • Baba, Meher (2000). The Path of Love. Myrtle Beach, S.C.: Sheriar Press. ISBN 1-880619-23-7.
  • Bjelica, Drago The Bible For The New Age (Online). 2009.
  • 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.
  • Cappel, Constance, Dera Poetry, Philadelphia, PA: Xlibris, 2007.
  • Cheroff, Seth, The Manual For Living. CO Spirit Scope, 2008.
  • Clift, Jean Dalby (2008). The Mystery of Love and the Path of Prayer. ISBN 978-1-4404-6637-3.
  • Deloria, V., Jr. God is Red. 2d Ed. Golden, Co: North American Press, 1992, ISBN 1-55591-904-9.
  • 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.
  • Downey, Michael. Understanding Christian Spirituality. New York: Paulist Press, 1997.
  • Eck, Diana L. 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.
  • Goddart, Michael. Spiritual Revolution: A Seeker's Guide; 52 Powerful Principles for Your Mind & Soul, DeVorss, 1997.
  • Haisch, Bernard The God Theory: Universes, Zero-point Fields, and What's Behind It All, (Preface), Red Wheel/Weiser, 2006, ISBN 1-57863-374-5
  • Hein, David (1997). "Christianity and Traditional Lakota / Dakota Spirituality: A Jamesian Interpretation". The McNeese Review 35: 128–38.
  • Hein, David, and Edward Hugh Henderson, editors. 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.
  • Hein, David, and Charles R. Henery, editors. Spiritual Counsel in the Anglican Tradition. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock; Cambridge, UK: James Clarke & Co., 2010.
  • Holtje, D. (1995). From Light to Sound: The Spiritual Progression. Temecula, CA: MasterPath, Inc. ISBN 1-885949-00-6
  • 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 (2): 294–303. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2648.1998.00519.x. PMID 9515639.
  • Masters, K.S.; Spielmans, G.I (2007). "Prayer and health: review, meta-analysis, and research agenda". Journal of Behavioral Medicine 30 (4): 329–338. doi:10.1007/s10865-007-9106-7. PMID 17487575.
  • Percival, Harold W. Thinking and Destiny, ISBN 0-911650-06-7
  • Perry, Whitall N. A Treasury of Traditional Wisdom: An Encyclopedia of Humankind’s Spiritual Truth. Louisville: Fons Vitae books, 2000, ISBN 1-887752-33-1
  • Ram Chandra(Shajahanpur). Reality at Dawn.
  • Roberts, Jane (1974). The Nature of Personal Reality. Prentice-Hall. reprinted (1994) Amber-Allen Publishing. ISBN 1-878424-06-8
  • Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, I Am That, Acorn Press, 1990, ISBN 0-89386-022-0
  • Schmidt, Leigh Eric. Restless Souls : The Making of American Spirituality. San Francisco: Harper, 2005. ISBN 0-06-054566-6
  • Sandra M. Schneiders (1989). "Spirituality in the academy". Theological Studies 50 (4): 676–697. ISSN 0040-5639. http://pao.chadwyck.com/articles/displayItem.do?QueryType=articles&QueryIndex=journal&ResultsID=1307059952A444264&ItemNumber=3&BackTo=journalid&BackToParam=QueryType=journals.
  • Shahjahan, R. A. (2005). "Spirituality in the academy: Reclaiming from the margins and evoking a transformative way of knowing the world". International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 18 (6): 685–711. doi:10.1080/09518390500298188.
  • Shahjahan, R.A. (2010). "Toward a spiritual praxis: The role of spirituality among faculty of color teaching for social justice". The Review of Higher Education 33 (4): 473–512. doi:10.1353/rhe.0.0166.
  • Sheldrake, Philip (1998). Spirituality and history: Questions of interpretation and method. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis. ISBN 1-57075-203-6. http://www.amazon.com/Spirituality-History-Questions-Interpretation-Method/dp/1570752036/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310081301&sr=1-1.
  • Steiner, Rudolf, How to Know Higher Worlds: A Modern Path of Initiation. New York: Anthroposophic Press, (1904) 1994. ISBN 0-88010-372-8
  • Steiner, Rudolf, Theosophy: An Introduction to the Supersensible Knowledge of the World and the Destination of Man. London: Rudolf Steiner Press, (1904) 1994
  • Spenard, Michael (April 11, 2011) "Dueling with Dualism: the forlorn quest for the immaterial soul", essay. An historical account of mind body duality and a comprehensive conceptual and empirical critique on the position. ISBN 978-0-578-08288-2
  • Thompson, William Irwin, The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality, and the Origins of Culture (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981).
  • Wapnick, Kenneth, The Message of A Course in Miracles. Roscoe, NY: Foundation for A Course in Miracles, 1997, ISBN 0-933291-25-6.
  • Wakefield, Gordon S.(ed.), A Dictionary of Christian Spirituality. London: SCM, 1983.
  • Wilkinson, Tony, The Lost Art of Being Happy - Spirituality for Sceptics Findhorn Press 2007, ISBN 978-1-84409-116-4
  • Zagano, Phyllis Twentieth-Century Apostles: Contemporary Spirituality in Action (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999)
  • Zagano, Phyllis "Woman to Woman: An Anthology of Women's Spiritualities (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical PRess) 1993.
  • Zajonc, Arthur, The New Physics and Cosmology Dialogues with the Dalai Lama. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004,ISBN 0-19-515994-2.

[edit] External links

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