(Re-)defining spirituality

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Angelo Cannata
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(Re-)defining spirituality

Post by Angelo Cannata »

Lately I focused my attention on spirituality. I come from a christian background, but I think that spirituality should be recovered today as something free from religion and from believing in metaphysical things. I have seen that a thread about Secular Spirituality already exists in this forum, but it seems to me that it ended because there were no clear ideas about a definition of spirituality. My idea of spirituality is something that even atheists should be able to share. Anybody interested?
prothero
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Re: (Re-)defining spirituality

Post by prothero »

Sure, put something out there, just do not make it too long or too complex. :o
thedoc
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Re: (Re-)defining spirituality

Post by thedoc »

I'll read a short synopsis, just ignore the trolls, and keep to the topic.
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bahman
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Re: (Re-)defining spirituality

Post by bahman »

Angelo Cannata wrote: Lately I focused my attention on spirituality. I come from a christian background, but I think that spirituality should be recovered today as something free from religion and from believing in metaphysical things. I have seen that a thread about Secular Spirituality already exists in this forum, but it seems to me that it ended because there were no clear ideas about a definition of spirituality. My idea of spirituality is something that even atheists should be able to share. Anybody interested?
Spirituality is mostly matter of experience rather than definition. Have you ever experience this or this or being haunted with good and evil spirit?
Angelo Cannata
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Re: (Re-)defining spirituality

Post by Angelo Cannata »

My idea about spirituality is based on the way it is described in its entry on Wikipedia.
In this entry, any meaning of spirituality related to esoterism, special states of the mind, mysterious experiences, is at least very reduced, if not ignored.
I think the way used by Wikipedia to approach spirituality is still to be improved to exploit all cultural potential that spirituality has.
I mean that we should elaborate a definition of spirituality even more free from esoterism and religions; a kind of spirituality that even atheists should be able to follow. I think that working on research in this way would have great benefits in terms of clarifying culture, philosophy e human experience.
prothero
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Re: (Re-)defining spirituality

Post by prothero »

From Wikipedia entry on Spirituality
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]

Secular spirituality emphasizes humanistic ideas on moral character (qualities such as love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, responsibility, harmony, and a concern for others).[98]: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

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.

The term spirit means "animating or vital principle in man and animals".[web 1] It is derived from the Old French espirit[web 1] which comes from the Latin word spiritus (soul, courage, vigor, breath)[web 1] and is related to spirare (to breathe).[web 1] In the Vulgate the Latin word spiritus is used to translate the Greek pneuma and Hebrew ruah.[web 1]

A survey of reviews by McCarroll e.a. dealing with the topic of spirituality gave twenty-seven explicit definitions, among which "there was little agreement."[10] This causes some difficulty in trying to study spirituality systematically; i.e., it impedes both understanding and the capacity to communicate findings in a meaningful fashion.

Traditionally, spirituality referred to a religious process of re-formation which "aims to recover the original shape of man," oriented at "the image of God" exemplified by the Torah, Christ, Buddha, Muhammad and others. In modern times the emphasis is on subjective experience of a sacred dimension[1] and the "deepest values and meanings by which people live,"[2][3] usually in a context separate from organized religious institutions.[4] Modern spirituality may include a belief in a supernatural realm,[5] personal growth,[6] a quest for an ultimate/sacred meaning,[7] religious experience,[8] or an encounter with one's own "inner dimension."[9]

The meaning of spirituality has developed and expanded over time, and various connotations can be found alongside each other.[10][11][12][note 1] The term "spirituality" originally developed within early Christianity, referring to a life oriented toward the Holy Spirit.[13] During late medieval times the meaning broadened to include mental aspects of life, while in modern times the term both spread to other religious traditions[14] and broadened to refer to a wider range of experience, including a range of esoteric traditions.
I guess I would classify myself as “spiritual but not religious”. I do not accept the formal doctrines of any officially organized religion. I have “religious sentiments” but draw on a wide variety of religious notions and at least some concepts from virtually all of the major religious traditions. The fundamental religious conception, IMHO, is the notion that the universe (taken at large) is not entirely accidental and purposeless. I do not accept atheistic materialism as a worldview. I think there is some larger, purpose, meaning and design to nature. My particular religious view is not very anthropocentric (humans are not the center and purpose of creation) or anthropomorphic (god is not like a human writ large or necessarily very concerned with the fate of humans). I very much accept science as an important source of our knowledge and understanding of the universe but I also think science has limits and never gives an entirely accurate or entirely complete picture of “life and nature” taken as a whole. Scientific empirical explanations of “experience” are abstractions from a more complete and complex reality which includes psychic (valuations and feelings) and well as physical “phenomena”. The ultimate purpose of reality is in my view “creativity”, creative advance, formation of value, intensity of experience.
MatejValuch
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Re: (Re-)defining spirituality

Post by MatejValuch »

When defining "spirituality", you may consider the origin of the expression, which is "spirit". Spirit came from latin word "spirare", which means something like breathing.
Thus the Eastern connection of spirituality and breathing exercises/meditation, and a special condition of being we can achieve while performing the exercises.

Is this the way you want to go with your definition?
FlashDangerpants
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Re: (Re-)defining spirituality

Post by FlashDangerpants »

thedoc wrote:I'll read a short synopsis, just ignore the trolls, and keep to the topic.
I would like my contribution to be more on the trolling front if I may.
Angelo Cannata
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Re: (Re-)defining spirituality

Post by Angelo Cannata »

I think that, assuming Wikipedia as a starting point for a definition of spirituality, we could develop it, with our search work, in order to make it easy to refer to. When I read anything about spirituality in an esoteric sense, I see that, in this field, there are no reference points academically accepted, as they can be found in other fields, such as science, literature, or arts. I think that we could elaborate a definition of spirituality that should help us to find wide academic agreement and reference points.

For this reason I thought that a very basic definition of spirituality could be this one: spirituality is any inner experience. Obviously, this implies to clarify what I mean with “inner experience”. I mean it in a very material way: inner experience is, in my definition, whenever something moves inside something else.

This definition does not exclude anything outside the material world: I did not exclude that an atom moving inside a stone could be moved by spirits; but I’m not interested in this aspect, because it does not contain academically accepted reference points.
In this perspective, even an atom moving inside a stone is a spiritual experience, but I’m not interested in this aspect, because I’m not interested in stones; I am interested in humans.

This way, starting from the basic definition given above, I can concentrate my research on what moves inside people, while avoiding any debate about the existence or non existence of esoteric realities, Gods of religions, spirits, and so on. I do not deny their existence, nor I state it; I am simply not interested in these aspects because they do not contain academically accepted reference points.
thedoc
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Re: (Re-)defining spirituality

Post by thedoc »

FlashDangerpants wrote:
thedoc wrote:I'll read a short synopsis, just ignore the trolls, and keep to the topic.
I would like my contribution to be more on the trolling front if I may.
You may certainly do as you like, just be prepared to be ignored.
thedoc
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Re: (Re-)defining spirituality

Post by thedoc »

Angelo Cannata wrote:I think that, assuming Wikipedia as a starting point for a definition of spirituality, we could develop it, with our search work, in order to make it easy to refer to. When I read anything about spirituality in an esoteric sense, I see that, in this field, there are no reference points academically accepted, as they can be found in other fields, such as science, literature, or arts. I think that we could elaborate a definition of spirituality that should help us to find wide academic agreement and reference points.

For this reason I thought that a very basic definition of spirituality could be this one: spirituality is any inner experience. Obviously, this implies to clarify what I mean with “inner experience”. I mean it in a very material way: inner experience is, in my definition, whenever something moves inside something else.

This definition does not exclude anything outside the material world: I did not exclude that an atom moving inside a stone could be moved by spirits; but I’m not interested in this aspect, because it does not contain academically accepted reference points.
In this perspective, even an atom moving inside a stone is a spiritual experience, but I’m not interested in this aspect, because I’m not interested in stones; I am interested in humans.

This way, starting from the basic definition given above, I can concentrate my research on what moves inside people, while avoiding any debate about the existence or non existence of esoteric realities, Gods of religions, spirits, and so on. I do not deny their existence, nor I state it; I am simply not interested in these aspects because they do not contain academically accepted reference points.
I will say that I only accept the most basic tenants of religion, and the other "articles of faith", I tend to rationalize to make them acceptable. I am looking for the spiritual aspect of belief in God, but not very enthusiastically, as I don't think it is as important as most religious people believe. At one time I read a lot about Zen Buddhism, and now I am reacquiring those books, and re-reading what I had read before. There is a great deal of spirituality in Buddhism, without a direct reference to God.
Walker
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Re: (Re-)defining spirituality

Post by Walker »

Angelo Cannata wrote:This way, starting from the basic definition given above, I can concentrate my research on what moves inside people, while avoiding any debate about the existence or non existence of esoteric realities, Gods of religions, spirits, and so on. I do not deny their existence, nor I state it; I am simply not interested in these aspects because they do not contain academically accepted reference points.
In your frame of reference, which excludes the movement of chemical reactions and the movement of physiological processes, the only thing that moves inside of a human is thought.
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Terrapin Station
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Re: (Re-)defining spirituality

Post by Terrapin Station »

Angelo Cannata wrote:For this reason I thought that a very basic definition of spirituality could be this one: spirituality is any inner experience . . .
Why call that "spirituality" though?
Angelo Cannata
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Re: (Re-)defining spirituality

Post by Angelo Cannata »

Walker wrote:In your frame of reference, which excludes the movement of chemical reactions and the movement of physiological processes, the only thing that moves inside of a human is thought.
No, in my definition of spirituality it is not my intention to esclude any kind of movement.
Terrapin Station wrote:Why call that "spirituality" though?
As I said, it is evident that my definition of spirituality embraces any kind of movement that our mind is able to think to. By calling it “spirituality”, I express my intention to ignore any kind of movement too far from the definition of spirituality given by Wikipedia; furthermore, I choose to ignore any kind of movement lacking in wide academically accepted reference points.

For clarity, I think to distinguish two kinds of spirituality: universal spirituality and human spirituality. Universal spirituality is any kind of movement that our mind is able to think to; human spirituality is any kind of movement embraced by the definition of spirituality given by Wikipedia.

Stating my definition of universal spirituality makes me able to obtain a definition of spirituality that is very clear, basic, universally acceptable, good even to atheists and scientists. Stating my definition of human spirituality makes me able to concentrate my research on a field that is very similar to what we call “humanities”, such as music, art, literature; the difference is that by “human spirituality” I mean the inner effects that any kind of humanities produce inside we humans.
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Terrapin Station
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Re: (Re-)defining spirituality

Post by Terrapin Station »

Angelo Cannata, you didn't really understand my question unfortunately. You had said, "spirituality is any inner experience." What I was asking is why you wouldn't just call that "experience" (experience is necessarily "inner") or "subjectivity" or something like that. Why would you feel the need to use the word "spirituality" instead?
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