Friday, October 29, 2010

What is 'spirituality'?

Spirituality is a process rather than a state or accumulation of beliefs and practices.

It starts with a collection of concepts and convictions. In Buddhism, for example, the Four Noble Truths and how we understand them Other concepts may also be present, along with presuppositions and prejudices about, say, Ultimate Reality (God, liberation, and so on). Included in this concatenation are beliefs about who 'I' am, how this 'I' relates to others and the world around me and the purpose, if any, of these convictions.

This ensemble lead us to make choices about values, likes and dislikes and our life-style and plan. These choices are then underpinned by supportive practices, leading to our individual response experiences. What is often described as 'spirituality' refers to these practices and experiences. These do not, however, stand alone; they are contingent and dependent on the other loci.

It is these experiences strengthen or challenge our concepts and conviction, to maintain them or to change.

When I was first shown this model, I realised that it can be applied far beyond what is normally deemed 'spiritual'. Indeed, it may be seen as a description of scientific method with experiment and supportive evidence as the supportive practice locus

I am grateful for this model to Sister Ishpriya. Below is the schema she gave us on a study retreat. Whilst it refers specifically to the religious practice and experience, I believe that it has a much wider application.

It is particularly useful when we want to change (or help another to change) because we can see very quickly where we are likely to meet the strongest resistance to change and where the least

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