Descriptions of Spirituality

SPIRITUALITY can be defined as how you perceive and live out your relationship with the world and yourself. a. It is based on the assumption that there is more than what is immediately, physically apparent. b. In some way deals with a unifying, integrating or vitalizing dimension of experience. c. It involves the concept of a relationship or connection with something outside oneself (or outside one’s consciousness), which entails interaction and interdependency, in contrast to how one would relate to a fact (like the function of a gene) or mechanical process (like electricity or the law of gravity). d. It’s personally meaningful in that it provides beliefs about the nature and purpose of the world and ourselves, typically including guides on how to think and behave.

“In its broadest sense, spirituality is an aspect of any attempt to approach or attend to the invisible factors in life and to transcend the personal, concrete, finite particulars of this world…. Spirituality is not always specifically religious. Mathematics is spiritual in a broad sense, abstracting from the concrete details of life. A walk through the woods on a sunny fall day can be a spiritual activity, if only because it’s a way of getting away from home and routine and being inspired by tall, old trees and the processes of nature, which are far beyond human scale. Spirit, the Platonists said, lifts us out of the confines of human dimensions, and in doing so nourishes the soul.” –Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul

“The very distinction between spiritual and material or sacred and secular, is ultimately invalid, for the spiritual mode finds its place in all actions, whether physical or psychical, that lead us to a fuller knowledge of God. Whatever leads us to a knowledge of God is spiritually based; it also leads us away from preoccupation with ourselves to a fuller participation in the world’s affairs and the concerns of others.” –Martin Israel, Precious Living

A way of being and experiencing that comes about through awareness of a transcendent dimension and that is characterized by certain identifiable values in regard to self, others, nature, life, and whatever one considers to be the ultimate. — Elkins, et al. (1988), p. 10.

The feelings, thoughts, experiences, and behaviors that arise from a search for the sacred. The term ‘search’ refers to attempts to identify, articulate, maintain, or transform. The term ‘sacred’ refers to a divine being or Ultimate Reality or Ultimate Truth as perceived by the individual. –Larson, D. B., et al. 1998.

RELIGION is an the expression of spiritual or religious belief/experience in a set of symbols, beliefs or doctrines, and practices by which groups and individuals relate to themselves and the world. Religion, for many people, is the concrete, culturally oriented definition and expression of their spirituality. 1. Religion and spirituality clearly share many common characteristics, such as a search for what is sacred or holy in life, coupled with some kind of transcendent (beyond the self) relationship with God or a higher power or universal energy. 2. They differ in important ways, such as religious factors being focused more on prescribed beliefs, rituals, and practices as well as social institutional features; were as, spiritual factors are concerned with individual subjective experiences, sometimes shared with others. 3. Religion is defined by its boundaries; spirituality by a difficulty in defining its boundaries. 4. Religion and religiosity can, in fact, interfere with a person’s spiritual growth. The spiritual purpose of religious practice can be lost in obsessional piety or in political and economic agendas that focus on power and prestige.

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