Does spirituality have a definition?  

I don't think at this point in time it actually does (not anything set in stone anyway).

Why is that?  There are so many theories that bring up what it 'could be' but not often do we understand what it actually is.  Is this because spirituality is entirely subjective?  Does spirituality have to do with religion or the self?  Are there levels to spirituality and who defines them?
Is the monk that spends all his time in prayer more spiritual than the man or woman who acts and stays within his moral beliefs and understanding of self?  Is the man or woman who meditates a spiritual person, what about the church goer that holds strict code to dogmas or memes?  What of the person without spirituality, are they still spiritual in a sense of ignoring it's possibilities?

Can spirituality be defined by what a person does or what a person is or is it something bigger than the person and their mind?

I'm sure everyone can come up with an opinion on what spirituality is... some don't know what it is and can only express a feeling, some can't put 'spirituality' into words either, it's just something they know.

Here's a disturbing find... I typed "What is spirituality" into Google search, and the top definition that came up was from Princeton's definition: "spirituality: property or income owned by a church"... interesting

I like what commentary Dr. Colliford had to say, that "It is not ideal to consider sprituality as a thing, an object. It does not have the nature of a specimen that can be dissected and analysed. Spirituality is better thought of as a boundary-less dimension of human experience. As such, it must be admitted, it is not open to the normal methodologies of scientific investigation. It cannot completely be defined. It cannot be pinned down. So... What are we to do?"

No need for a response if it's difficult to articulate, but it's always worth a really good think session.

I'm sure it's easier to accumulate thoughts of what isn't spirituality..

but what is spirituality to you?

Views: 701

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

In the Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism, edited by Hanegraaff, Brill Press.

They break it out into
1) Terminology
2) Origins
3) Spread and Development
4) Reformism and Progressivism
5) Crisis and Transformation
6) Spiritualism in England
7) Spiritualism Outside English Speaking Countries

Terminology gives it as basically a belief that men hold intercourse with spirits of the dead. That is followed by a remark that theat definition is of little use, "emcompassing as it does everything from the trance voyages of Shamans to King Saul's recourse to the Witch of Endor..."

It was predominant in the early 1800's and continues up through today in the New Age movement. It was present in Mormanism, Adventism and American Shakerism (and a few others). It occurs in various forms through Theosophy, Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor and Rosicrucianism. It evolved to include gods, denizens, demigods and most anything that ruled the Universe.

personally, I might add that Jung had some of these events. The most famous is "The Seven Sermons to the Dead" starting with the Dead arriving from Jeruseleum etc.
I should add that the "Red Book" is similar in creation, though terms like "Collective Unconsiousness" are used instead. It is just not a simple subject. Many aspects of divinatory practices fall in this category (or should. my opinions only).

Just some thoughts....

I forgot to mention that the above was "Spiritualism." The way words work, Spirituality is the study of spiritualism, that is until the term spiritualology starts popping up.

It is so broad, it remains undefined. No definition is academically useful.

It occurs in all cultures which may have extraordinary beliefs, in the sense of "intelligence" outside of men (humankind) that is non-physical.

An interesting view in this video. Spirituality is awareness. Everything is spiritual .....

I liked this.  Thanks for posting it!

What is spirituality? A principle, process or a product? Or all three rolled into one word?

Response to Anand

A product of ones desire to understand True meaning/understanding. Usually through stpirritual practices.
A process involving practicing studies and techniques which lead to True meaning/understanding.
A principle that is True and recognized as a product of spiritual practices leading to True meaning/understanding. 

(how is that for circular confusion?)

Originally, the word had a much smaller meaning. today, it has a very large meaning.

The Genetic Factor and Politics

the result from finding a genetic factor allowing this has been controversial. I am not sure why. The true Atheist "Knows" spirituality does not exist. A left over genetic fluke from evolution. The spiritualist is rather in a sad genetic handicap.

A person who understands spirituality "knows" that there is more than just some physical reality out there. (whatever that means). There exists spirituality of some form.  The True Atheist is inherently deprived of this genetically. The Atheist is rather a sad genetic handicap.

They cannot meet, ever, .. apparently. Evangelicalism in the US gets political results. The Atheists seems rational and progressive to people  because the religious "born-again" are politically active to the point of impeding societal progress - scripture is God. Religion appears bad for society to develop. Atheism is then a political solution. That is Karma. The religious then rebel. We suffer the sins of a society turned away from God. They both get the opposite of their actions. (the reactions).
I am unsure if I explained that well...

The Science Connection

the following may be of interest. Some of my deepest religious experiences came when studying Math and Physics. It is a surreal mental state of realization of mind where reality falls away leaving pure consciousness.

Plato on Math and Science

The following may also be of interest. Another current example of what leads one through the "Koan of Science":
The last paragraph is the important one. The process above it explains the Koan - it is True. They are integrally linked.

"As an experimental physicist, I find it almost impossible to build a setup without having a mental picture of the trajectory photons travel along from one point to another; how else can I know where to put mirrors or lenses? Yet, as Feynman discussed [7], a quantum particle takes every possible path through space from one point to another. Hence a particle’s propagation or evolution is reminiscent of a multipath interferometer, and, as Danan et al.’s experiments show, its final state carries the imprint of all possible paths."
(Note: this includes traveling backwards through time)

What Can we Say about a Photon’s Past?

So, for the True Atheist, often found in the Skeptics circles, they apparently believe in a spirituality that they know does not exist. They even seem happy there.

yes. The word can mean about anything: product,  process, principle etc. truly nearly a worthless term.
And now, with the genetic connection, people like Richard Dawkins can honestly believe he is superior and evolved beyond it all. True Arrogance.
So, even the acncient Science Path can be excused. Plato suffers from a genetic delusion.
very strange.

"To attribute anything that you can't say for certain to even more unknown and mysterious causes seems to me to be at best misguided and at worst arrogant, but what do I know?"

I was re-reading that, and trying to put in context of, say,  Buddhist Literature (or any other)...  you confused me.


It would appear that the word spirituality is used to cover such wide range of meanings that it is not worth a working definition. However with the amazing, mind-boggling range and scope of human thoughts, that is not surprising. There are several such words.  

Yet, in the minds of each of us there is a range of meaning(s) assigned to it which we use to interpret/understand whenever we come across the word. Would a compilation of such meaning(s) help?

I agree. The issue is, now it is somewhat of a moving target.

In Broad and General Terms/Strokes
In the days of Newton (& before) one studied the Natural Sciences: Math, Physcs, Astrology (astronomy), Alchemy (Chemistry), etc.
During the "Age of Reason," the Natural Sciences, i.e. now used terms like Astronomy; Chemistry, Life Sciences etc., the people apparently threw out anything you could not directly verify, kck, etc., but kept Art, Poetry, History, Philosophy etc. Most everything is still "Doctor of Philosophy"; Philosophy be the "Catch-all."
What they "tossed aside" is what Hanegraaff (in Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed) decided to sell as Esotericism, or potentially esoteric. (Un-Natural Sciences, Religions, Spirits, Gods, Bardo(s) etc.).
Admittedly an over simplification, it does have some usefulness.
So, we have Natural Science and Other (Spiritualism). I guess it would be along the lines of the verifiable and non-verifiable; Scepticism (Atheism) and Spritualism (Belief in Unexplained; Includes non-human UFO's etc).

I rather break it out like the above, but others have their favorite inclusions/exclusions. The Terms are useful in popular language when one needs a very broad Brush for top-level classifications. Lack of specifics can break them out as "not" an Academic topic of study. Too much specificity can also make the term LESS useful (!!!!!  NoNoNo..Aaaahhh ....  @*&%#).

NOTE: I find some of this very interesting precisely because, today, some items currently cross boundaries as discoveries take place. I think Life Sciences, Physics and Esotericism (includes Theosophy) are in high states of flux.

Well, all of the above is just one more of my quack diatribes. (I expect "Mead-ism" is its own trash folder; delete stuff, scheduled very regularly).

wow!!   there is a lot I don't know..... so, where is this doctrine that answers these questions? I hope it has predetermined what I need to know. ,,,  I don't know that either.

I think Life Sciences, Physics and Esotericism (includes Theosophy) are in high states of flux.

One cannot but agree. As Life Sciences turn digital and Physicists learn to cope with the amazing new discoveries, the state of flux seems never ending. Esotericists always suffered from the advantage of interpretation (where after every discovery they could re-interpret some old text or the other to claim that they knew about it. Rarely before the discovery.). That really takes them out of the equation for defining spirituality.

One may like to wait for an order to emerge out of this flux. But what if flux was the Order?


Search Theosophy.Net!


What to do...

Join Theosophy.Net Blogs Forum Live Chat Invite Facebook Facebook Group

A New View of Theosophy


Theosophy References

Wiki Characteristics History Spirituality Esotericism Mysticism RotR ToS

Our Friends

© 2024   Created by Theosophy Network.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service