Spirituality

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Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or immaterial reality;[1] an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of their being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.”[2] Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop an individual's inner life; such practices often lead to an experience of connectedness with a larger reality, yielding a more comprehensive self; with other individuals or the human community; with nature or the cosmos; or with the divine realm.[3] Spirituality is often experienced as a source of inspiration or orientation in life.[4] It can encompass belief in immaterial realities or experiences of the immanent or transcendent nature of the world.

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Definition

Traditionally, many religions have regarded spirituality as an integral aspect of religious experience. Many do still equate spirituality with religion, but declining membership of organized religions and the growth of secularism in the western world has given rise to a broader view of spirituality. [5]

Secular spirituality denotes various attempts to recognize aspects of life and human experience which are not captured by a purely materialist or mechanistic view of the world, but without accepting belief in the supernatural. It is for example possible to regard many kinds of spiritual practice such as mindfulness and meditation as beneficial or even necessary for human fulfilment without accepting any supernatural interpretation or explanation. Indeed, there is no necessary connection between spirituality and belief at all. For some, the term simply carries connotations of an individual having a religious outlook which is more personalized, less structured, more open to new ideas/influences, and more pluralistic than that of the doctrinal faiths of organized religions, although whether it is helpful to call this view secular may be doubtful. While atheism tends to lean towards scepticism regarding supernatural claims and the existence of any actual "spirit", some atheists define "spiritual" as nurturing thoughts, emotions, words and actions that are in harmony with a belief that the entire universe is, in some way, connected; even if only by some mysterious flow of cause and effect at every scale.[6]. Some versions of Buddhist spirituality would also be examples of this style of thought since Buddhism, although conventionally involving the supernatural, is not theistic.

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