Traditionally, spirituality referred to a religious process of re-formation which "aims to recover the original shape of man",[note 2] oriented at "the image of God" as exemplified by the founders and sacred texts of the religions of the world. The term was used within early Christianity to refer to a life oriented toward the Holy Spirit and broadened during late medieval times to include mental aspects of life.
In modern times the term both spread to other religious traditions and broadened to refer to a wider range of experience, including a range of esoteric traditions and religious traditions. Modern usages tend to refer to a subjective experience of a sacred dimension and the "deepest values and meanings by which people live", often in a context separate from organized religious institutions, such as a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm, personal growth, a quest for an ultimate or sacred meaning, religious experience, or an encounter with one's own "inner dimension".
The term spirit means "animating or vital principle in man and animals".[web 1] It is derived from the Old French espirit, which comes from the Latin word spiritus (soul, courage, vigor, breath) and is related to spirare (to breathe). In the Vulgate the Latin word spiritus is used to translate the Greek pneuma and Hebrew ruah.[web 1]
The term "spiritual", matters "concerning the spirit", is derived from Old French spirituel (12c.), which is derived from Latin spiritualis, which comes from spiritus or "spirit".[web 2]
The term "spirituality" is derived from Middle French spiritualité, from Late Latin "spiritualitatem" (nominative spiritualitas), which is also derived from Latin spiritualis.[web 3]
There is no single, widely agreed upon definition of spirituality.[note 1] Surveys of the definition of the term, as used in scholarly research, show a broad range of definitions with limited overlap. A survey of reviews by McCarroll each dealing with the topic of spirituality gave twenty-seven explicit definitions, among which "there was little agreement." This impedes the systematic study of spirituality and the capacity to communicate findings meaningfully. Furthermore, many of spirituality's core features are not unique to spirituality; for example self-transcendence, asceticism and the recognition of one's connection to all were regarded by the atheist Arthur Schopenhauer as key to ethical life.
According to Kees Waaijman, the traditional meaning of spirituality is a process of re-formation which "aims to recover the original shape of man, the image of God. To accomplish this, the re-formation is oriented at a mold, which represents the original shape: in Judaism the Torah, in Christianity there is Christ, for Buddhism, Buddha, and in Islam, Muhammad."[note 2] Houtman and Aupers suggest that modern spirituality is a blend of humanistic psychology, mystical and esoteric traditions and Eastern religions.
In modern times the emphasis is on subjective experience and the "deepest values and meanings by which people live," incorporating personal growth or transformation, usually in a context separate from organized religious institutions.
Words translatable as 'spirituality' first began to arise in the 5th century and only entered common use toward the end of the Middle Ages. In a Biblical context the term means being animated by God, to be driven by the Holy Spirit, as opposed to a life which rejects this influence.
In the 11th century this meaning changed. Spirituality began to denote the mental aspect of life, as opposed to the material and sensual aspects of life, "the ecclesiastical sphere of light against the dark world of matter".[note 3] In the 13th century "spirituality" acquired a social and psychological meaning. Socially it denoted the territory of the clergy: "The ecclesiastical against the temporary possessions, the ecclesiastical against the secular authority, the clerical class against the secular class"[note 4] Psychologically, it denoted the realm of the inner life: "The purity of motives, affections, intentions, inner dispositions, the psychology of the spiritual life, the analysis of the feelings".[note 5]
In the 17th and 18th century a distinction was made between higher and lower forms of spirituality: "A spiritual man is one who is Christian 'more abundantly and deeper than others'."[note 6] The word was also associated with mysticism and quietism, and acquired a negative meaning.
Modern notions of spirituality developed throughout the 19th and 20th century, mixing Christian ideas with Western esoteric traditions and elements of Asian, especially Indian, religions. Spirituality became increasingly disconnected from traditional religious organisations and institutions. It is sometimes associated today with philosophical, social, or political movements such as liberalism, feminist theology, and green politics.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) was a pioneer of the idea of spirituality as a distinct field. He was one of the major figures in Transcendentalism, an early 19th-century liberal Protestant movement, which was rooted in English and German Romanticism, the Biblical criticism of Johann Gottfried Herder and Friedrich Schleiermacher, the skepticism of Hume,[web 4] and Neo-Platonism. The Transcendentalists emphasised an intuitive, experiential approach of religion.[web 5] Following Schleiermacher, an individual's intuition of truth was taken as the criterion for truth.[web 5] In the late 18th and early 19th century, the first translations of Hindu texts appeared, which were also read by the Transcendentalists, and influenced their thinking.[web 5] They also endorsed universalist and Unitarianist ideas, leading to Unitarian Universalism, the idea that there must be truth in other religions as well, since a loving God would redeem all living beings, not just Christians.[web 5][web 6]
A major influence on modern spirituality was the Theosophical Society, which searched for 'secret teachings' in Asian religions. It has been influential on modernist streams in several Asian religions, notably Neo-Vedanta, the revival of Theravada Buddhism, and Buddhist modernism, which have taken over modern western notions of personal experience and universalism and integrated them in their religious concepts. A second, related influence was Anthroposophy, whose founder, Rudolf Steiner, was particularly interested in developing a genuine Western spirituality, and in the ways that such a spirituality could transform practical institutions such as education, agriculture, and medicine.
The influence of Asian traditions on western modern spirituality was also furthered by the perennial philosophy, whose main proponent Aldous Huxley was deeply influenced by Swami Vivekananda's Neo-Vedanta and universalism, and the spread of social welfare, education and mass travel after World War II.
An important influence on western spirituality was Neo-Vedanta, also called neo-Hinduism and Hindu Universalism,[web 7] a modern interpretation of Hinduism which developed in response to western colonialism and orientalism. It aims to present Hinduism as a "homogenized ideal of Hinduism" with Advaita Vedanta as its central doctrine. Due to the colonisation of Asia by the western world, since the 19th century an exchange of ideas has been taking place between the western world and Asia, which also influenced western religiosity. Unitarianism, and the idea of Universalism, was brought to India by missionaries, and had a major influence on neo-Hinduism via Ram Mohan Roy's Brahmo Samaj and Brahmoism. Roy attempted to modernise and reform Hinduism, from the idea of Universalism. This universalism was further popularised, and brought back to the west as neo-Vedanta, by Swami Vivekananda.
After the Second World War, spirituality and theistic religion became increasingly disconnected, and spirituality became more oriented on subjective experience, instead of "attempts to place the self within a broader ontological context." A new discourse developed, in which (humanistic) psychology, mystical and esoteric traditions and eastern religions are being blended, to reach the true self by self-disclosure, free expression and meditation.
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": structured offerings complementing consumer choice with spiritual options.
Among other factors, declining membership of organized religions and the growth of secularism in the western world have given rise to this broader view of spirituality. The term "spiritual" is now frequently used in contexts in which the term "religious" was formerly employed. Both theists and atheists have criticized this development.
Rabbinic Judaism (or in some Christian traditions, Rabbinism) (Hebrew: "Yahadut Rabanit" – יהדות רבנית) has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud. It is characterised by the belief that the Written Torah ("Law" or "Instruction") cannot be correctly interpreted without reference to the Oral Torah and by the voluminous literature specifying what behavior is sanctioned by the law (called halakha, "the way").
Kabbalah (literally "receiving"), is an esoteric method, discipline and school of thought of Judaism. Its definition varies according to the tradition and aims of those following it, from its religious origin as an integral part of Judaism, to its later Christian, New Age, or Occultist syncretic adaptations. Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an unchanging, eternal and mysterious Ein Sof (no end) and the mortal and finite universe (his creation). While it is heavily used by some denominations, it is not a religious denomination in itself. Inside Judaism, it forms the foundations of mystical religious interpretation. Outside Judaism, its scriptures are read outside the traditional canons of organised religion. Kabbalah seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to thereby attain spiritual realisation.
Hasidic Judaism, meaning "piety" (or "loving kindness"), is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspect of the faith. It was founded in 18th-century Eastern Europe by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov as a reaction against overly legalistic Judaism. His example began the characteristic veneration of leadership in Hasidism as embodiments and intercessors of Divinity for the followers. Opposite to this, Hasidic teachings cherished the sincerity and concealed holiness of the unlettered common folk, and their equality with the scholarly elite. The emphasis on the Immanent Divine presence in everything gave new value to prayer and deeds of kindness, alongside Rabbinic supremacy of study, and replaced historical mystical (kabbalistic) and ethical (musar) asceticism and admonishment with optimism, encouragement, and daily fervour. This populist emotional revival accompanied the elite ideal of nullification to paradoxical Divine Panentheism, through intellectual articulation of inner dimensions of mystical thought.
Catholic spirituality is the spiritual practice of living out a personal act of faith (fides qua creditur) following the acceptance of faith (fides quae creditur). Although all Catholics are expected to pray together at Mass, there are many different forms of spirituality and private prayer which have developed over the centuries. Each of the major religious orders of the Catholic Church and other lay groupings have their own unique spirituality – its own way of approaching God in prayer and in living out the Gospel.
Christian mysticism refers to the development of mystical practices and theory within Christianity. It has often been connected to mystical theology, especially in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions. The attributes and means by which Christian mysticism is studied and practiced are varied and range from ecstatic visions of the soul's mystical union with God to simple prayerful contemplation of Holy Scripture (i.e., Lectio Divina).
Progressive Christianity is a contemporary movement which seeks to remove the supernatural claims of the faith and replace them with a post-critical understanding of biblical spirituality based on historical and scientific research. It focuses on the lived experience of spirituality over historical dogmatic claims, and accepts that the faith is both true and a human construction, and that spiritual experiences are psychologically and neurally real and useful.
The Pillars of Islam (arkan al-Islam; also arkan ad-din, "pillars of religion") are five basic acts in Islam, considered obligatory for all believers. The Quran presents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith. They are (1) the creed (shahadah), (2) daily prayers (salat), (3) almsgiving (zakah), (4) fasting during Ramadan and (5) the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) at least once-in-a-lifetime. The Shia and Sunni sects both agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts.
Sufism or taṣawwuf (Arabic: تصوّف) is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a ṣūfī (صُوفِيّ). Sufis believe they are practicing ihsan (perfection of worship) as revealed by Gabriel to Muhammad,
Worship and serve Allah as you are seeing Him and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you.
Sufis consider themselves as the original true proponents of this pure original form of Islam. They are strong adherents to the principal of tolerance, peace and against any form of violence. The Sufi have suffered severe persecution by more rigid and fundamentalist groups such as the Wahhabi and Salafi movement. In 1843 the Senussi Sufi were forced to flee Mecca and Medina and head to Sudan and Libya.
Classical Sufi scholars have defined Sufism as "a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God". Alternatively, in the words of the Darqawi Sufi teacher Ahmad ibn Ajiba, "a science through which one can know how to travel into the presence of the Divine, purify one's inner self from filth, and beautify it with a variety of praiseworthy traits".
Jihad is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates as a noun meaning "struggle". There are two commonly accepted meanings of jihad: an inner spiritual struggle and an outer physical struggle. The "greater jihad" is the inner struggle by a believer to fulfill his religious duties. This non-violent meaning is stressed by both Muslim and non-Muslim authors.
The Prophet ... returned from one of his battles, and thereupon told us, 'You have arrived with an excellent arrival, you have come from the Lesser Jihad to the Greater Jihad – the striving of a servant (of Allah) against his desires (holy war)."[note 7]
Buddhist practices are known as Bhavana, which literally means "development" or "cultivating" or "producing" in the sense of "calling into existence." It is an important concept in Buddhist praxis (Patipatti). The word bhavana normally appears in conjunction with another word forming a compound phrase such as citta-bhavana (the development or cultivation of the heart/mind) or metta-bhavana (the development/cultivation of loving kindness). When used on its own bhavana signifies 'spiritual cultivation' generally.
Hinduism has no traditional ecclesiastical order, no centralized religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet(s) nor any binding holy book; Hindus can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, monistic, or atheistic. Within this diffuse and open structure, spirituality in Hindu philosophy is an individual experience, and referred to as ksaitrajña (Sanskrit: क्षैत्रज्ञ). It defines spiritual practice as one's journey towards moksha, awareness of self, the discovery of higher truths, true nature of reality, and a consciousness that is liberated and content.
Traditionally, Hinduism identifies three mārga (ways)[note 8] of spiritual practice, namely Jñāna, the way of knowledge; Bhakti, the way of devotion; and Karma yoga, the way of selfless action. In the 19th century Vivekananda, in his neo-Vedanta synthesis of Hinduism, added Rāja yoga, the way of contemplation and meditation, as a fourth way, calling all of them "yoga."[note 9]
Jñāna marga is a path often assisted by a guru (teacher) in one's spiritual practice. Bhakti marga is a path of faith and devotion to deity or deities; the spiritual practice often includes chanting, singing and music – such as in kirtans – in front of idols, or images of one or more deity, or a devotional symbol of the holy. Karma marga is the path of one's work, where diligent practical work or vartta (Sanskrit: वार्त्ता, profession) becomes in itself a spiritual practice, and work in daily life is perfected as a form of spiritual liberation and not for its material rewards. Rāja marga is the path of cultivating necessary virtues, self-discipline, tapas (meditation), contemplation and self-reflection sometimes with isolation and renunciation of the world, to a pinnacle state called samādhi. This state of samādhi has been compared to peak experience.
There is a rigorous debate in Indian literature on relative merits of these theoretical spiritual practices. For example, Chandogyopanishad suggests that those who engage in ritualistic offerings to gods and priests will fail in their spiritual practice, while those who engage in tapas will succeed; Svetasvataropanishad suggests that a successful spiritual practice requires a longing for truth, but warns of becoming 'false ascetic' who go through the mechanics of spiritual practice without meditating on the nature of Self and universal Truths. In the practice of Hinduism, suggest modern era scholars such as Vivekananda, the choice between the paths is up to the individual and a person's proclivities. Other scholars suggest that these Hindu spiritual practices are not mutually exclusive, but overlapping. These four paths of spirituality are also known in Hinduism outside India, such as in Balinese Hinduism, where it is called Catur Marga (literally: four paths).
Different schools of Hinduism encourage different spiritual practices. In Tantric school for example, the spiritual practice has been referred to as sādhanā. It involves initiation into the school, undergoing rituals, and achieving moksha liberation by experiencing union of cosmic polarities. The Hare Krishna school emphasizes bhakti yoga as spiritual practice. In Advaita Vedanta school, the spiritual practice emphasizes jñāna yoga in stages: samnyasa (cultivate virtues), sravana (hear, study), manana (reflect) and dhyana (nididhyasana, contemplate).
Sikhism considers spiritual life and secular life to be intertwined: "In the Sikh Weltanschauung...the temporal world is part of the Infinite Reality and partakes of its characteristics." Guru Nanak described living an "active, creative, and practical life" of "truthfulness, fidelity, self-control and purity" as being higher than a purely contemplative life.
The 6th Sikh Guru Guru Hargobind re-affirmed that the political/temporal (Miri) and spiritual (Piri) realms are mutually coexistent. According to the 9th Sikh Guru, Tegh Bahadhur, the ideal Sikh should have both Shakti (power that resides in the temporal), and Bhakti (spiritual meditative qualities). This was developed into the concept of the Saint Soldier by the 10th Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh.
According to Guru Nanak, the goal is to attain the "attendant balance of separation-fusion, self-other, action-inaction, attachment-detachment, in the course of daily life", the polar opposite to a self-centered existence. Nanak talks further about the one God or Akal (timelessness) that permeates all life). and which must be seen with 'the inward eye', or the 'heart', of a human being.
In some African contexts, spirituality is considered a belief system that guides the welfare of society and the people therein, and eradicates sources of unhappiness occasioned by evil.
The term "spiritual" is now frequently used in contexts in which the term "religious" was formerly employed. Contemporary spirituality is also called "post-traditional spirituality" and "New Age spirituality". Hanegraaf makes a distinction between two "New Age" movements: New Age in a restricted sense, which originated primarily in mid-twentieth century England and had its roots in Theosophy and Anthroposophy, and "New Age" in a general sense, which emerged in the later 1970s
when increasing numbers of people ... began to perceive a broad similarity between a wide variety of "alternative ideas" and pursuits, and started to think of them as part of one "movement"".
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 2005 poll, about 24% of the United States population identifies itself as spiritual but not religious.[web 8]
Modern spirituality is centered on the "deepest values and meanings by which people live." It embraces the idea of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality. It envisions an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being.
Not all modern notions of spirituality embrace transcendental ideas. Secular spirituality emphasizes humanistic ideas on moral character (qualities such as love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, responsibility, harmony, and a concern for others).:22 These are 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. Nevertheless, many humanists (e.g. Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre) who clearly value the non-material, communal and virtuous aspects of life reject this usage of the term spirituality as being overly-broad (i.e. it effectively amounts to saying "everything and anything that is good and virtuous is necessarily spiritual"). In 1930 Russell, a renowned atheist, wrote "... one's ego is no very large part of the world. The man [sic.] who can center his thoughts and hopes upon something transcending self can find a certain peace in the ordinary troubles of life which is impossible to the pure egoist."  Similarly, Aristotle – one of the first known Western thinkers to demonstrate that morality, virtue and goodness can be derived without appealing to supernatural forces – even argued that "men create Gods in their own image" (not the other way around). Moreover, theistic and atheistic critics alike dismiss the need for the "secular spirituality" label on the basis that appears to be nothing more than obscurantism in that i) the term "spirit" is commonly taken as denoting the existence of unseen / otherworldly / life-giving forces and ii) words such as morality, philanthropy and humanism already efficiently and succinctly describe the prosocial-orientation and civility that the phrase secular spirituality is meant to convey but without risk of potential confusion that one is referring to something supernatural.
Although personal well-being, both physical and psychological, is said to be an important aspect of modern spirituality, this does not imply spirituality is essential to achieving happiness (e.g. see). Free-thinkers who reject notions that the numinous/non-material is important to living well can be just as happy as more spiritually-oriented individuals (see)
Contemporary spirituality theorists assert that spirituality develops inner peace and forms a foundation for happiness. For example, meditation and similar practices are suggested to help the practitioner cultivate her/his inner life and character.  Ellison and Fan (2008) assert that spirituality causes a wide array of positive health outcomes, including "morale, happiness, and life satisfaction.". However, Schuurmans-Stekhoven (2013) actively attempted to replicate this research and found more "mixed" results. Nevertheless, spirituality has played a central role in some 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
"Spiritual experience" plays a central role in modern spirituality. This notion has been popularised by both western and Asian authors. Important early 20th century western 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). James' notions of "spiritual experience" had a further influence on the modernist streams in Asian traditions, making them even further recognisable for a western audience.
William James popularized the use of the term "religious experience" in his The Varieties of Religious Experience. It has also influenced the understanding of mysticism as a distinctive experience which supplies knowledge.[web 9]
Wayne Proudfoot traces the roots of the notion of "religious experience" further back to the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834), who argued that religion is based on a feeling of the infinite. The notion of "religious experience" was used by Schleiermacher to defend religion against the growing scientific and secular critique. It was adopted by many scholars of religion, of which William James was the most influential.
Major Asian influences were Vivekananda and D.T. Suzuki. Swami Vivekananda popularised a modern syncretitistic Hinduism, in which the authority of the scriptures was replaced by an emphasis on personal experience. D.T. Suzuki had a major influence on the popularisation of Zen in the west and popularized the idea of enlightenment as insight into a timeless, transcendent reality.[web 10][web 11] Another example can be seen in Paul Brunton's A Search in Secret India, which introduced Ramana Maharshi and Meher Baba to a western audience.
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.
Waaijman discerns four forms of spiritual practices:
Spiritual practices may include meditation, mindfulness, prayer, the contemplation of sacred texts, ethical development, and spiritual retreats in a convent. Love and/or compassion are often described as the mainstay of spiritual development.
Within spirituality is also found "a common emphasis on the value of thoughtfulness, tolerance for breadth and practices and beliefs, and appreciation for the insights of other religious communities, as well as other sources of authority within the social sciences."
Since the scientific revolution of the 18th-century Enlightenment, the relationship of science to religion and to spirituality has developed in complex ways. 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."
Brooke has proposed that the currently held popular notion of antagonisms between science and religion has historically originated with "thinkers with a social or political axe to grind" rather than with the natural philosophers themselves. Though physical and biological scientists today see no need for supernatural explanations to describe reality[note 10], some scientists continue to regard science and spirituality as complementary, not contradictory, and are willing to debate, rather than simply classifying spirituality and science as non-overlapping magisteria.
A few religious leaders have shown openness to modern science and its methods. The 14th Dalai Lama, for example, has proposed that if a scientific analysis conclusively showed certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then the claims must be abandoned and the findings of science accepted.
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.:322 These holistic conceptions were championed by New Age spiritualists in a type of quantum mysticism that they claim justifies their spiritual beliefs, though quantum physicists themselves on the whole reject such attempts as being pseudoscientific.
Various studies (most originating from North America) have reported a positive correlation between spirituality and mental well-being in both healthy people and those encountering a range of physical illnesses or psychological disorders. Although spiritual individuals tend to be optimistic, report greater social support, and experience higher intrinsic meaning in life, strength, and inner peace, whether the correlation represents a causal link remains contentious. Both supporters and opponents of this claim agree that past statistical findings are difficult to interpret, in large part because of the ongoing disagreement over how spirituality should be defined and measured. There is also evidence that an agreeable / positive temperament and/or a tendency toward sociability (which all correlate with spirituality) might actually be the key psychological features that predispose people to subsequently adopt a spiritual orientation and that these characteristics, not spiritually per se, add to well-being. There is also some suggestion that the benefits associated with spirituality and religiosity might arise from being a member of a close-knit community. Social bonds available via secular sources (i.e., not unique to spirituality or faith-based groups) might just as effectively raise well-being. In sum, spirituality may not be the "active ingredient" (i.e. past association with psychological well-being measures might reflect a reverse causation or effects from other variables that correlate with spirituality), and that the effects of agreeableness, conscientiousness, or virtue – personality traits common in many non-spiritual people yet known to be slightly more common among the spiritual – may better account for spirituality's apparent correlation with mental health and social support.
Masters and Spielmans conducted a meta-analysis of all the available and reputable research examining the effects of distant intercessory prayer. They found no discernible health effects from being prayed for by others. In fact, one large and scientifically rigorous study by Herbert Benson and colleagues revealed that intercessory prayer had no effect on recovery from cardiac arrest, but patients told people were praying for them actually had an increased risk of medical complications. Knowing others are praying for you could actually be medically detrimental.
In the health-care professions there is growing interest in "spiritual care", to complement the medical-technical approaches and to improve the outcomes of medical treatments. Puchalski et al. argue for "compassionate systems of care" in a spiritual context.
Neuroscientists have examined brain functioning during reported spiritual experiences finding that certain neurotransmitters and specific areas of the brain are involved. Moreover, experimenters have also successfully induced spiritual experiences in individuals by administering psychoactive agents known to elicit euphoria and perceptual distortions. Conversely, religiosity and spirituality can also be dampened by electromagnetic stimulation of the brain. These results have motivated some leading theorists to speculate that spirituality may be a benign subtype of psychosis (see). Benign in the sense that the same aberrant sensory perceptions that those suffering clinical psychoses evaluate as distressingly in-congruent and inexplicable are instead interpreted by spiritual individuals as positive – as personal and meaningful transcendent experiences.
The 'holy alliance' between Newtonian natural philosophy and Anglican latitudinarianism had, by the end of the eighteenth century, proved a fruitful marriage. Confident assertions that science and religion were allies remained part of the intellectual landscape in the first half of the nineteenth century and natural theology continued to be one of the most influential vehicles for the dissemination of new scientific theories [...].
There is nothing supernatural, no 'life force' to rival the fundamental forces of physics. [...] My thesis will be that events that we commonly call miracles are not supernatural, but are part of a spectrum of more-or-less improbable natural events.
The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict (Latin: Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a monastic Catholic religious order of monks and nuns that follow the Rule of Saint Benedict. They are also sometimes called the Black Monks, in reference to the colour of the members' religious habits.
Despite being called an order, the Benedictines do not operate under a single hierarchy but are instead organised as a collection of independent monastic communities, with each community (monastery, priory or abbey) within the order maintaining its own autonomy. Unlike other religious orders, the Benedictines do not have a superior general or motherhouse with universal jurisdiction. Instead, the order is represented internationally by the Benedictine Confederation, an organisation that was set up in 1893 to represent the order's shared interests.Carmelites
The Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel or Carmelites (sometimes simply Carmel by synecdoche; Latin: Ordo Fratrum Beatissimæ Virginis Mariæ de Monte Carmelo) is a Roman Catholic mendicant religious order founded, probably in the 12th century, on Mount Carmel in the Crusader States, hence the name Carmelites. However, historical records about its origin remain very uncertain. Berthold of Calabria has traditionally been associated with the founding of the order, but few clear records of early Carmelite history have survived.Catholic spirituality
Catholic spirituality includes the various ways in which Catholics live out their Baptismal promise through prayer and action. The primary prayer of all Catholics is the Eucharistic liturgy in which they celebrate and share their faith together, in accord with Jesus' instruction: "Do this in memory of me." The Catholic bishops at the Second Vatican Council decreed that "devotions should be so drawn up that they harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some fashion derived from it, and lead the people to it, since, in fact, the liturgy by its very nature far surpasses any of them." In accord with this, many additional forms of prayer have developed over the centuries as means of animating one's personal Christian life, at times in gatherings with others. Each of the religious orders and congregations of the Catholic church, as well as lay groupings, has specifics to its own spirituality – its way of approaching God in prayer to foster its way of living out the Gospel.Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers (Latin: Ordo Praedicatorum, postnominal abbreviation OP), also known as the Dominican Order, is a mendicant Catholic religious order founded by the Spanish priest Dominic of Caleruega (also called Dominic de Guzmán) in France, approved by Pope Honorius III via the Papal bull Religiosam vitam on 22 December 1216. Members of the order, who are referred to as Dominicans, generally carry the letters OP after their names, standing for Ordinis Praedicatorum, meaning of the Order of Preachers. Membership in the order includes friars, nuns, active sisters, and affiliated lay or secular Dominicans (formerly known as tertiaries, though recently there has been a growing number of associates who are unrelated to the tertiaries).
Founded to preach the Gospel and to oppose heresy, the teaching activity of the order and its scholastic organisation placed the Preachers in the forefront of the intellectual life of the Middle Ages. The order is famed for its intellectual tradition, having produced many leading theologians and philosophers. In the year 2017 there were 5,742 Dominican friars, including 4,302 priests. The Dominican Order is headed by the Master of the Order, currently Bruno Cadoré.
A number of other names have been used to refer to both the order and its members.
In England and other countries, the Dominican friars are referred to as "Black Friars" because of the black cappa or cloak they wear over their white habits. Dominicans were "Blackfriars", as opposed to "Whitefriars" (i.e., Carmelites) or "Greyfriars" (i.e., Franciscans). They are also distinct from the "Austin friars" (i.e., Augustinian Friars) who wear a similar habit.
In France, the Dominicans were known as "Jacobins" because their convent in Paris was attached to the Church of Saint-Jacques, now disappeared, on the way to Saint-Jacques-du-Haut-Pas, which belonged to the Italian Order of Saint James of Altopascio (St. James) Sanctus Iacobus in Latin.
Their identification as Dominicans gave rise to the pun that they were the "Domini canes", or "Hounds of the Lord".Energy (esotericism)
The term "energy" is used by writers and practitioners of various esoteric forms of spirituality and alternative medicine to refer to a variety of phenomena. There is no scientific evidence for the existence of such energy.Therapies that purport to use, modify, or manipulate unknown energies are thus among the most contentious of all complementary and alternative medicines. Claims related to energy therapies are most often anecdotal (from single stories), rather than being based on repeatable empirical evidence.Evolutionary origin of religions
The evolutionary origin of religions and religious behavior is a field of study related to evolutionary psychology, the origin of language and mythology, and cross-cultural comparison of the anthropology of religion. Some subjects of interest include Neolithic religion, evidence for spirituality or cultic behavior in the Upper Paleolithic, and similarities in great ape behavior.Feminist theology
Feminist theology is a movement found in several religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and New Thought, to reconsider the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies of those religions from a feminist perspective. Some of the goals of feminist theology include increasing the role of women among the clergy and religious authorities, reinterpreting male-dominated imagery and language about God, determining women's place in relation to career and motherhood, and studying images of women in the religion's sacred texts and matriarchal religion.Goddess movement
The Goddess movement includes spiritual beliefs or practices (chiefly neopagan) which has emerged predominantly in North America, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand in the 1970s. The movement grew as a reaction to perceptions of predominant organized religion as male-dominated, and makes use of goddess worship and a focus on gender and femininity.
The Goddess movement is a widespread, non-centralized trend in neopaganism, and therefore has no centralized tenets of belief. Practices vary widely, from the name and number of goddesses worshipped to the specific rituals and rites used to do so. Some, such as Dianic Wicca, exclusively worship female deities, while others do not. Belief systems range from monotheistic to polytheism to pantheistic, encompassing a range of theological variety similar to that in the broader neopagan community. Common pluralistic belief means that a self-identified Goddess worshiper could theoretically worship any number of different goddesses from cultures all over the world. Based on its characteristics, the Goddess movement is also referred to as a form of cultural religiosity that is increasingly diverse, geographically widespread, eclectic, and more dynamic in process.Martial arts
Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practiced for a number of reasons such as self-defense, military and law enforcement applications, physical, mental and spiritual development; as well as entertainment and the preservation of a nation's intangible cultural heritage.
Although the term martial art has become associated with the fighting arts of East Asia, it originally referred to the combat systems of Europe as early as the 1550s. The term is derived from Latin and means "arts of Mars", the Roman god of war. Some authors have argued that fighting arts or fighting systems would be more appropriate on the basis that many martial arts were never "martial" in the sense of being used or created by professional warriors.Native American religion
Native American religions are the spiritual practices of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. This article focuses on Native North Americans. Traditional Native American ceremonial ways can vary widely and are based on the differing histories and beliefs of individual tribes, clans, and bands. Early European explorers describe individual Native American tribes and even small bands as each having their own religious practices. Theology may be monotheistic, polytheistic, henotheistic, animistic, shamanistic, pantheistic or any combination thereof, among others. Traditional beliefs are usually passed down in the forms of oral histories, stories, allegories, and principles, and rely on face to face teaching in one's family and community.Nature worship
Nature worship is any of a variety of religious, spiritual and devotional practices that focus on the worship of the nature spirits considered to be behind the natural phenomena visible throughout nature. A nature deity can be in charge of nature, a place, a biotope, the biosphere, the cosmos, or the universe. Nature worship is often considered the primitive source of modern religious beliefs and can be found in theism, panentheism, pantheism, deism, polytheism, animism, totemism, shamanism, paganism. Common to most forms of nature worship is a spiritual focus on the individual's connection and influence on some aspects of the natural world and reverence towards it.New Age
New Age is a term applied to a range of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices that developed in Western nations during the 1970s. Precise scholarly definitions of the New Age differ in their emphasis, largely as a result of its highly eclectic structure. Although analytically often considered to be religious, those involved in it typically prefer the designation of spiritual or Mind, Body, Spirit and rarely use the term "New Age" themselves. Many scholars of the subject refer to it as the New Age movement, although others contest this term and suggest that it is better seen as a milieu or zeitgeist.
As a form of Western esotericism, the New Age drew heavily upon a number of older esoteric traditions, in particular those that emerged from the occultist current that developed in the eighteenth century. Such prominent occult influences include the work of Emanuel Swedenborg and Franz Mesmer, as well as the ideas of Spiritualism, New Thought, Theosophy, Biosophy and the European Lebensreform movement. A number of mid-twentieth century influences, such as the UFO religions of the 1950s, the Counterculture of the 1960s, and the Human Potential Movement, also exerted a strong influence on the early development of the New Age. The exact origins of the phenomenon remain contested, but there is general agreement that it developed in the 1970s, at which time it was centred largely in the United Kingdom. It expanded and grew largely in the 1980s and 1990s, in particular within the United States. By the start of the 21st century, the term "New Age" was increasingly rejected within this milieu, with some scholars arguing that the New Age phenomenon had ended.
Despite its highly eclectic nature, a number of beliefs commonly found within the New Age have been identified. Theologically, the New Age typically adopts a belief in a holistic form of divinity that imbues all of the universe, including human beings themselves. There is thus a strong emphasis on the spiritual authority of the self. This is accompanied by a common belief in a wide variety of semi-divine non-human entities, such as angels and masters, with whom humans can communicate, particularly through the form of channeling. Typically viewing human history as being divided into a series of distinct ages, a common New Age belief is that whereas once humanity lived in an age of great technological advancement and spiritual wisdom, it has entered a period of spiritual degeneracy, which will be remedied through the establishment of a coming Age of Aquarius, from which the milieu gets its name. There is also a strong focus on healing, particularly using forms of alternative medicine, and an emphasis on a New Age approach to science that seeks to unite science and spirituality.
Centred primarily in Western countries, those involved in the New Age have been primarily from middle and upper-middle-class backgrounds. The degree to which New Agers are involved in the milieu varied considerably, from those who adopted a number of New Age ideas and practices to those who fully embraced and dedicated their lives to it. The New Age has generated criticism from established Christian organisations as well as modern Pagan and indigenous communities. From the 1990s onward, the New Age became the subject of research by academic scholars of religious studies.Parable
A parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse that illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature as characters, whereas parables have human characters. A parable is a type of analogy.Some scholars of the canonical gospels and the New Testament apply the term "parable" only to the parables of Jesus, though that is not a common restriction of the term. Parables such as "The Prodigal Son" are central to Jesus's teaching method in the canonical narratives and the apocrypha.Simran
Simran (Punjabi: ਸਿਮਰਨ, Hindi: सिमरण, सिमरन) is a Punjabi word derived from the Sanskrit word स्मरण (smaraṇa, "the act of remembrance, reminiscence, and recollection") which leads to the realization of what may be the highest aspect and purpose in one's life. It is the continuous remembrance of the finest aspect of the self, and/or the continuous remembrance (or feeling) of God, thus used for introducing spirituality. This state is maintained continuously while carrying out the worldly works outside.Spirit
A spirit is a supernatural being, often, but not exclusively, a non-physical entity; such as a ghost, fairy, or angel. In English Bibles, "the Spirit" (with a capital "S"), specifically denotes the Holy Spirit.
The concepts of spirit and soul often overlap, and both are believed to survive bodily death in some religions, and "spirit" can also have the sense of ghost, i.e. a manifestation of the spirit of a deceased person. Spirit is also often used to refer to the consciousness or personality.
Historically, it was also used to refer to a "subtle" as opposed to "gross" material substance, as in the famous last paragraph of Sir Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica.Spiritual but not religious
"Spiritual but not religious" (SBNR), also known as "Spiritual but not affiliated" (SBNA), is a popular phrase and initialism used to self-identify a life stance of spirituality that takes issue with organized religion as the sole or most valuable means of furthering spiritual growth. Historically, the words religious and spiritual have been used synonymously to describe all the various aspects of the concept of religion, but in contemporary usage spirituality has often become associated with the interior life of the individual, placing an emphasis upon the well-being of the "mind-body-spirit",
while religion refers to organizational or communal dimensions.Thealogy
Thealogy views divine matters with feminine perspectives including but not only feminism. Valerie Saiving, Isaac Bonewits (1976) and Naomi Goldenberg (1979) introduced the concept as a neologism (new word) in feminist terms. Its use then widened to mean all feminine ideas of the sacred, which Charlotte Caron usefully explained in 1993: "reflection on the divine in feminine or feminist terms". By 1996, when Melissa Raphael published Thealogy and Embodiment, the term was well established.As a neologism, the term derives from two Greek words: thea, θεά, meaning "goddess", the feminine equivalent of theos, "god" (from PIE root *dhes-); and logos, λόγος, plural logoi, often found in English as the suffix -logy, meaning "word", "reason" or "plan", and in Greek philosophy and theology the divine reason implicit in the cosmos.Thealogy has areas in common with feminist theology, the study of God from a feminist perspective, often emphasising monotheism. Thus the relation is an overlap as thealogy is not limited to deity in spite of its etymology; the two fields have been described as both related and interdependent.Transcendentalism
Transcendentalism is a philosophical movement that developed in the late 1820s and 1830s in the eastern United States. It arose as a reaction, to protest against the general state of intellectualism and spirituality at the time. The doctrine of the Unitarian church as taught at Harvard Divinity School was of particular interest.
Transcendentalism emerged from "English and German Romanticism, the Biblical criticism of Johann Gottfried Herder and Friedrich Schleiermacher, the skepticism of David Hume", and the transcendental philosophy of Immanuel Kant and German Idealism. Miller and Versluis regard Emanuel Swedenborg as a pervasive influence on transcendentalism. It was also strongly influenced by Hindu texts on philosophy of the mind and spirituality, especially the Upanishads.
A core belief of transcendentalism is in the inherent goodness of people and nature. Adherents believe that society and its institutions have corrupted the purity of the individual, and they have faith that people are at their best when truly "self-reliant" and independent.
Transcendentalism emphasizes subjective intuition over objective empiricism. Adherents believe that individuals are capable of generating completely original insights with little attention and deference to past masters.Vision (spirituality)
A vision is something seen in a dream, trance, or religious ecstasy, especially a supernatural appearance that usually conveys a revelation. Visions generally have more clarity than dreams, but traditionally fewer psychological connotations. Visions are known to emerge from spiritual traditions and could provide a lens into human nature and reality. Prophecy is often associated with visions.
|Proponents or |