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The chosen spiritual vs non spiritual essay

There is growing interest in spirituality in the wider community today, but because matters of the spirit are so divisive and productive of conflict we have to make real distinctions between spirituality and fundamentalism. After the events of 11 September 2001, we have to be very careful when we talk about the rising interest in spirituality, and differentiate clearly between creative and destructive forms of spiritual interest.

Mystery and Tolerance Spirituality and fundamentalism are at opposite ends of the cultural spectrum. Spirituality seeks a sensitive, contemplative, transformative relationship with the sacred, and is able to sustain levels of uncertainty in its quest because respect for mystery is always paramount Tacey 2000.

  • But that's us, how does the general public, especially those with an interest in spooky things, use the term spirituality?
  • As Damien Keown notes, 'The fact that Buddhism can be presented as in harmony with influential contemporary ideologies has undoubtedly aided its spread in the West.

Fundamentalism seeks certainty, fixed answers, and absolutism, as a fearful response to the complexity of the world and to our vulnerability as creatures in a mysterious universe. Spirituality arises from love of and intimacy with the sacred, and fundamentalism arises from fear of and possession by the sacred.

The choice between spirituality and fundamentalism is a choice between conscious intimacy and unconscious possession. Spirituality is capable of remaining with ultimate questions, but fundamentalism wants answers: Fundamentalism can arise in any spiritual tradition, whether Christian, Islamic, Hindu, or even in modern ideologies such as Freudian or Jungian psychology Tacey 2001.

If we were less certain of our beliefs, and more receptive to mystery and wonder, we would paradoxically be closer to God, more intimate with the spirit, and more tolerant of our fellow human beings and their differing conceptions of the sacred.

Secularism Under Pressure The confusion of spirituality and religious the chosen spiritual vs non spiritual essay causes many rational and reasonable people to reject both, in the belief that humanity is better off without the sacred, since it seems to be at the heart of contemporary and historical conflicts.

But the ideals of secularism, however well intended, are inadequate for life, since our lives are not rational and we are hugely implicated in the reality of the sacred, whether or not this is acknowledged. Spirituality in Theosophical Perspective Spirituality is the cultivation of a personal relationship with the sacred.

It is the intuition that there is a deeper level of reality, a level we are not always conscious of but which we can apprehend in moments of insight or vision.

Spirituality is the gradual awakening of this depth dimension, and a longing to know it more fully and intimately. In 1875, such a recognition came as a great shock to the Christian church, which believed it possessed the greatest truth of all, but today Christianity is more humble about its status, and is being forced to recognise the universality of the living spirit. Thus Theosophy was a prophetic movement that was far ahead of its time.

Spirituality develops an interior life and taps the deepest sources of desire, revealing our mystical longing for unity with creation. Although spiritual depth is not discernible to the ordinary eye, it is discernible to insight, and we are guided by intuition through the hidden universe of the spirit.

The awakening of spirituality often goes together with an activation of the journey motif: We experience this journey as a movement toward integrity, away from anxiety and toward an experience of wholeness. Sandra Schneiders has said: This personal wholeness remains potential and is never fully realised, but it is tasted and glimpsed, and we are never the same again.

The Australian Situation Recently I was asked by a Sydney newspaper journalist if Australia was a spiritual country, or if it was primarily unspiritual. This question begs a lot of further questions, not least of which is how we define spirituality, and how we go about looking for it.

But our worldliness and secularism could be a kind of official mask or disguise, hiding a great deal of spiritual longing and activity that takes place, as it were, below or beneath the secular persona. We may not be traditional in our spiritual tastes, but this should not lead us to conclude that we have become identified with worldliness, or that Australians have somehow turned away from spirit.

From where I stand, it looks like Australia is going through a spirituality revolution, and there has never been more longing for the spirit and therefore more hope for the future. For instance, I am personally aware of interest in spirituality in dozens of areas of human concern and professional enquiry.

Over recent years, I have been invited to give talks on spirituality to conferences based on these areas: It seems to me that we are in the midst of a spirituality revolution, as virtually every traditional discipline or area of knowledge struggles to come to terms with the postmodern interest in spiritual matters.

The Spirituality Revolution One of the major cultural shifts in recent times is the relocation of spiritual activity the chosen spiritual vs non spiritual essay the religious to the secular domain.

This shift is a universal social phenomenon, and is not, of course, limited to Australia.

The Rising Interest in Spirituality Today

To the surprise of many, the term spirituality has become democratized. Ideals that for centuries an elite viewed as virtually unattainable now prompt spiritual growth in everyone. The figures contrast radically with statistics showing how church attendance is declining in all the mainstream Christian denominations. But if one looks at the figures on spiritual experience, they might suggest that we are in the midst of an explosive spiritual upsurge.

David Hay and Kate Hunt 2000: Spirituality has rarely enjoyed such a high profile, positive evaluation, and even economic success as it does among Americans today. If religion is in serious trouble, spirituality is in the ascendancy and the irony of this situation evokes puzzlement and anxiety in the religious establishment, scrutiny among theologians, and justification among those who have traded the religion of their past for the spirituality of their present.

This is a sociological fact, and cannot be denied: But apart from the breakdown of tradition, there are obviously other factors involved in this massive shift. From Perfection to Wholeness One such factor could be that religious tradition has supported a far too narrow conception of holiness or sacredness.

The sacred ideal has been expressed in traditional terms as a search for spiritual perfection, with a strong emphasis on moral or ethical purity. The code of perfection aspires to a heavenly ideal that leaves out a great deal of life, especially sexuality, the life and vitalities of the body, and our earthly or embodied aspect. There is a new sacred ideal current today, and that is the ideal of wholeness, giving rise to holistic rather than perfectionist ideas and values about spiritual life.

As Sandra Schneiders has said: Spirituality is a project of life-integration, which means that it is holistic, involving body and spirit, emotions and thought, activity and passivity, social and individual aspects of life. It is an effort to bring all of life together in an integrated synthesis of ongoing growth and development.

Our age has not necessarily rejected Christianity itself, but it has certainly rejected the ideal of perfection in which premodern Christian spirituality was cast. In thinking about the holy spirit, we might also reflect on the similarity between these words holiness and wholeness, or the holy and the holistic. The similarity is more than linguistic or accidental: Hence part of the spiritual excitement of our time is the discovery of new forms of the sacred and new expressions of the holy.

The old forms are no longer adequate, and there is a sense of adventure and experimentation today as we go in search of new understandings of the sacred impulse within our lives that drives us to a new understanding of self, society, and cosmos. Water in the Desert When I think about the dramatic rise of popular spirituality in our world, I sometimes think about the flooding of a river in a desert landscape. When I was a boy growing up in the arid regions of central Australia, I occasionally witnessed a strange and miraculous phenomenon.

After we had experienced significant rains near Alice Springs, the normally dry and sandy bed of the Todd River would suddenly be transformed into a raging torrent, and the people of the town would behold the mystery of a the chosen spiritual vs non spiritual essay stream rising up from what seemed like nowhere.

  1. Atheists like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are giving billions of dollars to combat disease and poverty in the likes of Africa, whereas the Catholic Church is contributing to the spread of AIDS around the world by denying the use of condoms, and taking billions of dollars from their followers and investments, on top of demanding tax exemptions, and simply hoarding it.
  2. They should slaughter them wherever they find them.
  3. Water in the Desert When I think about the dramatic rise of popular spirituality in our world, I sometimes think about the flooding of a river in a desert landscape.
  4. Clearly he views Christianity, a religion, as a form of spirituality, along with Buddhism of course, another religion, and so by extension we can logically add Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and any other religion one can think of, as other forms of spirituality. It's a bit like me standing on a street corner with a sign claiming that I'm a true believer.
  5. His book, The Spirituality Revolution which includes a longer version of this article was published in January 2003 by Harper Collins, Sydney.

The high school I attended stood on the banks of the river, and after storms we sometimes received an announcement from the headmaster that we were to walk quickly and quietly to the banks of the Todd, to watch the river coming into flood. This might occur only once or twice a year, or in periods of drought, the river might never flood for years. We were told by our geography teachers that the Todd was actually flowing all the time, but mostly we do not see it.

Just below the ground and beyond our sight, there were bodies of moving water or underground streams, and in times of flood, when sufficient new waters had been added by rain, the water-table would rise up from its subterranean depths, and become a visible river, observable to our sight. Students and workers alike would cheer, whistle and applaud when the wall of water was suddenly apparent to our disbelieving gaze.

  1. I often get annoyed with people that form strong opinions based not on what some book argues, but merely on what they've heard about that book or its author.
  2. Containing the odd valuable gem, religious morality is weighted down with demands that create far, far more harm than they do good.
  3. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.
  4. But they insist they're not religious, they're spiritual. Also, that reincarnation lark would also require a god to monitor your conduct, decide whether you were going up or down a level, body wise, and possess the magic powers to perform the switch when you die.

To the people of the town, Aboriginal and European-descended, this was something of a mystical experience, a kind of apparition, and a dramatic event that brought excitement, interest, and unity to the district. You would almost not believe that a dry river bed could be transformed into a raging torrent unless you had seen it with your own eyes, and unless others had been there beside you, bearing witness to the same event.

I am reminded of this scene when I think of the rising waters of spirituality in our own time.

  • This might occur only once or twice a year, or in periods of drought, the river might never flood for years;
  • But the thing is that the Higgs boson has nothing whatsoever to do with God;
  • Clearly he views Christianity, a religion, as a form of spirituality, along with Buddhism of course, another religion, and so by extension we can logically add Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and any other religion one can think of, as other forms of spirituality.

After a long season of spiritual dryness and aridity, in which faith and intuition have been atrophied, a new river of spiritual possibility is rising up from below, with potentially great benefits to society and life. The river of spiritual life is always present and available to those who wish to gather at its banks, but sometimes whole societies and periods of time choose not to see it or be replenished by it. In Australia, as in most Western societies, we are about to witness a veritable flood of spiritual interest, and those who are unaware of the spiritual dimension of life are going to be placed in difficult and challenging situations.

However, those with developed interests in the perennial philosophy of spiritual wisdom will be better placed to understand and benefit from the rise of spiritual water in consciousness and society. Strangers, Rivals, or Partners?

His book, The Spirituality Revolution which includes a longer version of this article was published in January 2003 by Harper Collins, Sydney.