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Spirituality as seen by some lack a defining definition…but the basic definition of spirituality is that it is the fact or quality of being spiritual.  Spirituality has come to mean the internal experience of the individual.   But the term of spirituality use has changed though out the ages, in more recent times spirituality has been separated from religion and is a blend of humanistic psychology with mystical and esoteric traditions as well as eastern religions that are aimed at a person’s well-being and development.

Spirituality may be sought not only through religion, but through movements like the feminist theology and green politics.  There have been suggestions that spirituality also leads to finding purpose and meaning in one’s life.   Spirituality also aids in developing inner peace as well as forming a foundation for happiness.

Spirituality means something different to everyone. For some, it’s about participating in organized religion: going to church, synagogue, a mosque, etc. For others, it’s more personal: Some people get in touch with their spiritual side through private prayer, yoga, meditation, quiet reflection, or even long walks.

Spirituality is extremely hard to define with words alone, as it encompasses so much more than what we can express with our language. Although people tend to label themselves as being ‘spiritual’ or ‘not spiritual’, almost everyone on this planet is on the proverbial spiritual path, whether they are aware of it or not.

There are many different branches of spirituality, including mystical spirituality, intellectual spirituality and secular spirituality. Here are some of the most common spiritual themes:

  • Understanding that we are all connected and part of a larger reality
  • Realizing that we are infinite souls
  • Transcending the physical world and achieving enlightenment
  • Discovering the true nature of consciousness
  • Practicing kindness and compassion to all beings

Traditional Spirituality



Rabbinic Judaism has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud, which is characterized by the belief that the Written Torah (the law) can’t be correctly interpreted without reference to the Oral Torah and by voluminous literature specifying what behavior is sanctioned by the law.   Judaism has a variety of religious observances:  ethical rules, prayers, religious clothing, holidays, Shabbat, pilgrimages, Torah reading, dietary laws.

Kabbalah is an esoteric method, discipline and school and thought of Judaism.  According to the tradition and aims of their followers from its religious origins as an integral part of Judaism, to the later adaptations.   Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings that is meant to explain the relationship between an unchanging, eternal and mysterious and the mortal and finite universe.

While it is heavily used by some denominations, it is not its own denomination itself.    Inside Judaism, it forms the foundations of mystical religious interpretation. Outside Judaism, its scriptures are read outside the traditional canons of organized religion. Kabbalah seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to thereby attain spiritual realization.

Hasidic Judaism means piety and is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality through the popularization and internalization of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspect of the faith.   Hasidic Judaism was founded in 18th Century Europe.  Hasidic teachings cherished the sincerity and concealed holiness of the unlettered common folk, and their equality with the scholarly elite. The emphasis on the Divine presence in everything gave new value to prayer and deeds of kindness, alongside rabbinic supremacy of study and replaced historical mystical and ethical asceticism and admonishment with optimism, encouragement and fervor. This emotional revival accompanied the elite ideal of nullification to paradoxical Divine through intellectual articulation of inner dimensions of mystical thought.



Union with Christ is the purpose of Christian mysticism.

Catholic spirituality is the spiritual practice of living out a personal act of faith following the acceptance of faith.  Although all Catholics are expected to pray together at Mass, there are many different forms of spirituality and private prayer which have developed over the centuries. Each of the major religious orders of the Catholic Church and other lay groups have their own unique spirituality – its own way of approaching God in prayer and in living out the Gospel.

Christian mysticism refers to the development of mystical practices and theory within Christianity.  It is often connected to mystical theology, especially in both the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions.   The attributes and means by which Christian mysticism is studied and practiced are varied and range from ecstatic visions of the soul’s mystical union with God to simple prayerful contemplation of Holy Scripture.




The five pillars of Islam.

The Pillars of Islam are five basic acts in Islam, considered obligatory for all believers. The Quran (or Koran) represents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith.

They are (1) the creed (2) daily prayers, (3) almsgiving, (4) fasting during Ramadan and (5) pilgrimage to Mecca (haji) at least once in a lifetime.

The Shia and Sunni sects agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts.



The best known form of Islamic mystic spirituality is the Sufi tradition in which a spiritual master transmits spiritual discipline to students.   Sufism is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam.  Sufis believe they are practicing perfection of worship as revealed to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel.   Sufis consider themselves as the original true proponents of this pure original form of Islam. They are strong adherents to the principal of tolerance, peace and against any form of violence.

Classical Sufi scholars have defined Sufism as “a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God.



MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANSJihad is a religious duty of Muslims.  In the Arabic language, the word jihad translates as a noun meaning “struggle”.

There are two commonly accepted meanings of jihad: an inner spiritual struggle and an outer physical struggle.  The greater jihad” is the inner struggle by a believer to fulfill his religious duties.  This non-violent meaning is stressed by both Muslims and non-Muslims.





The Hindu traditions know a wide range of spiritual practices called Sadhana, which is aimed at reaching enlightenment.    Sadhana literally means “a means of accomplishing something.  It includes a variety of disciplines in Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Muslim traditions that are followed in order to achieve various spiritual or ritual objectives.

Sādhanā is a discipline undertaken in the pursuit of a goal. Abhyāsa is repeated practice performed with observation and reflection. Kriyā, or action, also implies perfect execution with study and investigation. Therefore, sādhanā, abhyāsa, and kriyā all mean one and the same thing. A sādhaka, or practitioner, is one who skillfully applies…mind and intelligence in practice towards a spiritual goal.





Buddhist practices are known as Bhavan, which literally means “development” or “cultivating   in the sense of “calling into existence.”     It is an important concept in Buddhist praxis.  The word bhavana normally appears in conjunction with another word forming a compound phrase such as the development or cultivation of the heart/mind or the development/cultivation of loving kindness. When used on its own bhavana signifies ‘spiritual cultivation’ generally.



Slave-Rebellion-HaitiAfrican spirituality

In some African contexts, spirituality is considered a belief system that guides that welfare of society and the people therein, and eradicates sources of unhappiness that is thought to be caused by evil.







Then there are people that hold that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience, as well as a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study.





One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.

Kathy Kiefer



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