The Echoes of the Mind (95) Spirituality


Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. ~ American astronomer Carl Sagan

The English 15th-century term spirituality derives from the Latin word for being put into motion by drawing breath: an animated spirit. Written expression of the idea predates the term by a millennium. But spirituality has echoed in the minds of hominids since awe sparked thoughts about the fabrication of Nature and one’s place in the cosmos.

Spirituality has long been a nebulous abstraction, a term without definitive definition. European words referring to spirituality begin to appear in texts in the 5th century, when the Dark Ages came. By the 11th century spirituality denoted the mental facets of life, in contrast to the material and sensual aspects.

In the 13th century, spirituality had been captured by the Christian clergy in a sociological context: the ecclesiastical contrasted against the secular. To this day, religions claim spirituality. Since the 2nd World War, the term was disconnected from religion per se, taking on a broader meaning: nurturing one’s spirit. The rise of secularism in the late 20th century – notably, the advent of the New Age movement in the 1970s – drew spirituality further away from theology and into the realm of metaphysics. In a sense, the conceptualization of spirituality returned to its roots.

Being spiritual necessarily means a belief that there is more to life than corporeal existence. Beyond that, schools of thought diverge as to the essence of the spirit, and what is entailed in devotion to spiritual health.

We do not believe in immortality because we can prove it, but we try to prove it because we cannot help believing it. ~ English sociologist Harriet Martineau

In worldview terms, a stark contrast can be drawn between spirituality and its philosophical antithesis: existentialism.