A while back I asked in a post if you can be both spiritual and atheist and I think most agreed that you can, in fact, be both. It led to some interesting comments.
If you can be both, do you think spirituality is an important part of life? A part needed to feel whole?
Working in mental health as well as being a patient I sometimes run across things like this — a pie chart that shows spirituality as an important part of wellbeing.
Do you agree that it’s a dimension of our wellbeing? Is it necessary?
Sometimes I’m annoyed with spirituality’s inclusion right alongside physical, emotional, and financial health. Until my last post about spirituality, I always associated spirituality with religion which gave me some seriously bad vibes whenever anyone brought it up — especially professionals.
I myself have never considered spirituality as important but recently I have been thinking about it differently. Maybe it does play a role in my life. I’m still trying to figure that out.
So what do you think? Is spirituality important even when you’re an atheist?
Paul Durrant says
A definition of spirituality would help. It’s always seemed a very vague term to me.
Defining “spirituality” as something to do with cheese — a perfectly reasonable & understandable definition (e.g., “blessed are the cheesemakers”) — then I’d rather not be a Cheese Pie (or Cake): If I don’t eat me, the mildly deranged penguin will !
Yes, it is a very vague term. Here is the previous post that started the discussion.
It’s a Trap!
Spirituality is inviting the camel to put their nose inside your tent. Soon the whole camel will enter, even if it rips your tent to pieces.
Spirituality could mean lots of things, some of which are benign or even good. But once you “allow” spirituality to be called a virtue, evil people will call that question settled, and then will demand their versions of spirituality be worshipped.
Don’t support vague labels that would just be used to attack innocent humans.
I’ll quote part of my response to the previous thread, by way of definition:
“I would define it as ‘a state of emotional exaltation that comes from feeling oneself to be a part of a larger whole.’
You don’t need to believe in anything nonmaterialistic to experience this emotion. Sure, it can come from religion, but also from nature as you say, or music, or art, or architecture, or oratory, or just a really good rave.”
That said, I don’t feel it’s necessary to my well being. I’d also say that such moments — “spots of time,” as Wordsworth called them — seem to come less often as I’ve grown older. He and many of the other British Romantic poets were troubled by this — if you base your entire livelihood on writing about a specific emotion, and then you stop feeling that emotion, are you even still a poet any more, or what? One of his most famous poems, “Ode: Intimations of Immortality” is all about trying to come to terms with that “falling off.”
My interpretation of spiritual has to do with understanding my own mental processes, recognizing my responses, being aware of how they arise, and learning not to get carried away with them, recognize how easily they can dissipate. Learning to avoid (or at least limit) the harm I cause myself and others near me when bad things happen (in Buddhist teachings this is called avoiding the second arrow), learning to find joy in other people’s good fortune even when nothing particularly good is happening to me, that kind of stuff. One can live without this awareness, but one is much better off with it. And it doesn’t come by itself, it takes a lot of learning and practice.
“A definition of spirituality would help. It’s always seemed a very vague term to me.”
In Christianity, it is the very exclusive restored, trichotomous status of the elect.
“In Christianity, it is the very exclusive restored, trichotomous status of the elect.” I have no idea what that means. That is a perfect example of every definition of ‘spirituality’ I have ever heard. Everyone defines it differently so I havent a clue what anyone is saying when they use that word. Being ‘spiritual’ is something I dont understand either, so if my life was a pie chart it wouldnt be on it.
In orthodox Christian doctrine, spiritualness is technical and positional. It has nothing to do with sensory experience or feelings. Natural humans are body and soul. Normalized people are body, soul and spirit, reflecting the triune nature of the Creator. The human spirit is a perceptive apparatus.
All this has to do with the fall of mankind, which killed the human spirit, and the reacquisition of that dimension by ‘born again’. Unfortunately, not many people are acquainted with the conceptual basics these days.
That’s interesting, txpiper — but I’m not sure I’d use the word “unfortunate” to describe the lack of interest in advanced theology these days. People are pretty ignorant about the importance of balancing the humors to keep themselves healthy, too, but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
John Morales says
The concept of spirituality is for other people.
Those purported 8 dimensions in the example in the OP include [spiritual, emotional, intellectual], yet outside substance dualism, that’s just the same as [emotional, intellectual].
Otiose and supernumerary.
I think it’s there basically to appease religious types.
Paul Durrant says
I suspect John has hit the nail on the head: “it’s there basically to appease religious types”
But putting that to one side, since you did give a definition in your previous post as “feeling connected to nature and the world around you”, I’d say that that feeling comes in rare moments that are very pleasant, but probably not significant. No more significant than moments of deja-vu.
So I think that spirituality in that sense is almost inevitable, but not an important or essential part of life, nor needed for “wellbeing”.
That is from the journal of Joseph Banks. It is part of his description of the indigenous peoples he encountered in New Holland (now New South Wales, Australia).
The reason they seemed umaware that they were descended from adam and eve is because they indeed were not. The “fall” spoken of in the bible is irrelevant outside the bronze age tribe to whom that creation myth belonged.
And to be perfectly blunt, religion is not spirituality. In fact, christi-insanity killed spirituality and replaced it with the hollow ritual.
No, not even a crumb.
Raging Bee says
In orthodox Christian doctrine, spiritualness is technical and positional…
I love it when someone tries to “define” some vague undefined word or concepts by using other vague undefined words and concepts. Seriously, WTF do “technical” and “positional” mean in this context? It kinda sounds like you’re talking about a GPS.
Raging Bee says
If your life was a pie chart, would spirituality be one of the pieces?
If it was angel-food cake instead of pie, maybe…
“WTF do “technical” and “positional” mean in this context?”
A change in status. The explanation in #6 is adequate for this discussion.