What is sprituality?

I am a collage student, studying a course entitled, ‘Study of Religions’. We study this from a non religious point of view and take the more curious approach.

As part of my assignment I have been asked to approach friends, family and others and ask them what the term ‘spirituality’ means to them.

I thought if I done this exercise over the internet I would get a wider range of views from people of all different walks of life.

Also if anyone has any ideas or views on:

Why has the term ‘spirituality’ become popular?

What is the relationship between ‘religion’ and ‘spirituality’?

Has there been a spiritual revolution?

I would be very greatful and interested in any insight or input on this subject.

Many thanks


Well, for me, spirituality means a belief that there is something otherworldly at work, and one’s belief in such. Whether that thing be a single God, multiple spirits or what have you, it doesn’t really matter, what matter’s is the belief in something outside the realms of science and logic that kind of help guide things in life and the movings of the world/universe.

Religion is the stepping stone that helps one achieve a greater sense of spirituality and helps one get close to whatever it is they feel they’re guided towards. For example, if you believe in God, and that you’re role in life is to gain a better understanding of what he/she/it wants for you out of this life and how to live it, then you’ve got hundreds of different religions that can help you out. To me, there is no one specific right, just many different avenues to travel to help get you to the appropriate destination.

Spirituality exists outside of religion. As does faith. Faith and spirituality are more connected and unified…religion is just a tool that one can either use as a fulcrum to focus their spirituality, or do without completely. some people use it as a crutch, some people let it overshadow their spirituality, and others ignore it completely.

As to why spirituality has become “more popular”…I hadn’t heard of that, but I know religion has become less popular. We live in an age of science and reason, and many feel the two can’t coincide. Plus, many religions used rather sketchy reasons to explain events and such that science is now able to explain, so it’s validity is a little off nowadays. Hence, it’s power has faded, and many people don’t really believe in religion anymore. But many of them still have faith. That’s my half-assed take on it.

Spirituality is religion for people who don’t like to go to church! It is a free-form brand of worship.

Spirituality vs. religion = no rules. Just worship.

Your spirituality is your relationship with the world around you.

Ultrafilter, I’ve heard that definition before. But I still don’t get it. Where do the spirits come in?

People are prone to considering such questions as ‘What is my purpose in life?’, and ‘On what basis should I make moral decisions?’, and ‘What principles should govern my basic attitude towards other people in this life?’.

These questions trascend normal day-to-day concerns, and seem ‘deep’ (in the sense that they can lead to seemingly intractable philosophical complexities) and ‘large’ (in the sense that they pertain to one’s entire life, and can pertain not just to the individual but also to an entire society, nation or race.

In a great many cases, a person’s awareness of these questions and the issues they raise will invoke the notion of beings or entities which are ‘spiritual’, by which we mean existing and usually sentient but non-corporeal, and hence not within the taxonomy of natural history. The existence of that which is ‘spiritual’ is in most cases held to be a matter of faith rather than empirical demonstration.

Religions codify a set of responses to these spiritual questions, and generally graft on some social rules pertinent to the time and place in which they first became documented.

In more secular terms, I think it is fair to say that a person’s awareness of these ‘large’ questions and the issues they raise constitute his or her ‘spiritual’ faculties, whether or not that person actually goes as far as believing in the existence of spiritual entities. For example I myself, like many atheists, do not personally believe in any spiritual beings or entities (except as mental constructs that many people find comforting or desirable), yet I believe I have an understanding of the ‘large’ questions I mentioned earlier which is at least as good as any answers presented by the world’s religions, and in some ways an improvement upon them.

Before I spout my personal dribble, I’m letting you know I am a practicing Wiccan, a recovering Catholic, and I no longer Step.

Spirituality is your understanding of the unexplainable mysteries and your places in them. I say places because as we change as beings, our place in the world changes. When we throw off lables and skins we become someone in a someplace else.
Religion and spiritulality differ in that religion is usualy (but not always) practiced in groups. Spirituality is individual. Though thier ideas and practices can overlap. Religion and it’s ideas are strict and rigid. Spirituality is maliable(sp?) and changes sometimes daily, especialy if one is on a quest of some sort. The reason I left the Catholioc church is because it did not have adequate answers to some of my questions and concerns, yet like all bible based religions, claimed to be “The only compleat truth”
The reason I enjoy my religion is that it allows for the freedom of individuality. There are no scripts, a very loose hierarchy, and sin based guilt is right out. I can praise who I wish as I wish, without fear of retrobution.

I think the term ‘spirituality’ has becomemore popular than the term ‘religion’ for the reason that spirituality is a bit P.C. When one speaks of specific religions it can offend others. Spiritual ideas though similar to religious ideas are less dogmatic and therefore easier to discuss.
I’m having a bit of trouble understanding what you are getting at by the term “Spiritual Revolution”. We as a race have been trying to answer the questions of the mysteries as long as we have been a sentient(sp?) species. When I hear the term revolution I think of: 1) A war, but spiritual wars are fought in the head and heart like a true jihad, or 2) Throwing off of the old for the new, spirituality as I define it constantly does that in its’ absorbtion of new ideas and concepts. The only true spiritual revolution one faces in the one within.
My spirit is constantly revoluting. So when I move from this plane to another my ascention is complete, and I get to revolute all over again.:wink:

Let me start with saying I consider myself to be a spiritual athiest. I also consider this designation to be a work in progress, because I can’t define my entire spirituality in any short sentence or phrase. The question you posed has made me turn around and take another hard look at how I believe, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

Spirituality for me starts with the belief that I am more than just the sum of my parts. From a scientific viewpoint, the sum of my parts is categorized as a volumes of chemicals, amounts of organs, arms, legs, torso…

After that, it continues on the how or why I’m more than just those pieces and parts. Do I have a soul? Whats the purpose of a soul? Is there a life unkown to us, beyond our mortal existence? What is the nature of thought? …and so on.

Religion, repitition, regimen. Synonymous. Religion is a practice. It can be a practice centered on exploration of spirituality, or a practice of devotion to the beliefs that come from spirituality, but in most cases I find it a stumbling block, or even a road block to real self discovery and spiritual growth. Someone may be guided in their spirituality, but never taught.

Spiritual revolution… I believe that may just be a big impressive slogan for those who feel that the “god fearing” status quo of America a few decades back was righteously crushed and the freedom of worship and belief today is a revolution. I just call it a relaxing of standards… whether those standards are just or not is another question.

Hope that helps.

Spirituality is the awareness of the journey of discovering Unity.
Or, it is the journey of discovering Unity.
Or, it is the Unity itself.
I’m not sure which – or even if there is a difference among the three.

I think that perhaps the term has become more popular as people become open to the idea that all of the world’s great relgions lead in the same direction. So we don’t think of ourselves as being “religious” so much as being “spiritual” – even though we may still prefer one path over another.

It has also become more popular because many have chosen to make money off the “seekers” by holding the “answers” to spirituality and selling them in books, tapes, seminars, workshops, etc. Some may have something valueable to sell. Others may just be exploiting.

Some people choose to express their spirituality through a religion and to use the tenents of their faith to learn more about spirituality.

Has there been a spiritual revolution? Yes. Some of it is real. It’s probably a healthy sign when people begin to look for answers within themselves, to set aside time for quietness, and to spend more time appreciating nature and “the moment.”

It is not good when we refuse to help people because we "don’t want to interfere with their kharma or when we adopt “guru-speak” and have no concept of meaning.

Religion is for people who are afraid of going to hell.

Spirituality is for those who have been there and back.

Ooh, I love surveys!

Why has the term ‘spirituality’ become popular?
I think spirituality has become more popular as the world has become smaller and a lot more hectic. I think a lot of people are seeking something to calm them, and a lot of people turn to spirituality for that.

What is the relationship between ‘religion’ and ‘spirituality’?
There’s a strong relationship between religion and spirituality. However, I think they can be separated. Spirituality can mean many things to many people. It can mean the searching for and belief of something more than yourself, something supernatural, such as God. Or it can mean that you’re looking for something incorporeal within yourself. Maybe not necessarily God, but perhaps something inside you which makes you more human or even more enlightened.

Has there been a spiritual revolution?
I think that depends on what you term “spiritual revolution.” It seems that more people are looking for the incorporeal on their own, rather than with the help of an organized religion, yet those people who have “embraced” organized religion are leaning more heavily on those beliefs for comfort. Also, a lot of things that had been linked with spirituality/religion in the East have become mainstream in Western society. One example would be yoga. The definition of yoga is “Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation” (Merriam Webster). Many Westerners use the tenants of yoga not necessarily in a religious sense, but to “center” themselves spiritually, or to find some sort of balance. Other people use it as just plain exercise.

What spirituality means to me
To me, spirituality is a pretty individual thing. I’m kind of wishy-washy at the moment as to my belief in God, but I do believe in the afterlife. So spirituality for me is more about myself than about finding God.

Just remember - it’s all about me.:smiley:

I haven’t forgotten your question, and I will give you answer…soon.

Spirituality is a journey. Spirituality is enlightenment. It is a journey of mental discovery, of thinking, pondering, and reflecting on timeless deep questions regarding the self, existence, and other fundamental aspects one can think of. Questions as “Who am I?”, “Why am I here?”, “What is the purpose of life?”, and so on.

These questions tend to invoke a sense of awe and wonderment during the course of introspection, of feelings of connections to things unseen.

I reckon the degree of one’s spirituality can be measured by how strong this sense of awe and wonderment is, and how easy one can see the extraordinary in the ordinary. Sunsets do it for most people, what about snowflakes?

A strongly spiritual person will necessarily emphasis less on worldly possessions and physical urges.

I’d like to say thank you very much to everyone who has taken the time and posted. All your opinions have been very helpful. Thanks again,


In my opinion and experience, use of the word **spirituality[//b] is generally indicative of sloppy thinking.

And my post is indicative of sloppy coding!

And sloppy reasoning. You did, after all, use the word. :wink:

Hey! Everything I know about logic I learned from watching Star Trek.

Actually, this melange of definitions is quite appropriate, seeing as the OP is a “collage” student.


Well, I suppose I should elaborate. My spirituality developed as part of my recovery from alcoholism, which was my hell. I’m now blessed with a conscious contact with a God (or Higher Power, or PowerS, or whatever) of my understanding. I ask for guidance, for strength, for confidence, for serenity and tranquility, for inspiration… as well as some more specific things while I’m at it. But I don’t need to do this in a church by reciting specific prayers or practising set rituals. I can do it while walking to the metro on the way to work. I can do it when I have a moment alone. I can do it before - or in the middle of - a tense and difficult conversation. I don’t need to get on my knees. All I need is to be sincere, honest, open, and willing. And I see results every time, without fail, as long as I let go absolutely. That’s the key: once I’ve asked for guidance and whatever else, I must relinquish any and all control that does not belong to me, and let God take care of it. As soon as I start trying to regain control of those people, places and things that I rationally know I cannot control, things start to get messed up. But as long as I remain faithful that things will be taken care of as long as I do what is required of me (hence no complacency) - the results are clear as day, and the rewards are indescribable.