Spirituality transcends love

"Spirituality is the capacity of persons to transcend themselves through knowledge and love, that is, to reach beyond themselves in relationship to others and thus become more than self-enclosed monads.”

Spirituality is a dimension of a human being that is actualized as a life project and practice.

Spirituality is a developed relationality rather than a mere capacity. It is not generic. For example, we can distinguish in a qualitative sense between a healthy and rigid spirituality, even within a religious tradition. A spirituality is as unique as a personality is unique. Spirituality can be religious or secular. A secular spirituality is still a “relationship between what one truly is and everything that is” (Peter Van Ness). A religious/secular spirituality, according to Schneiders, is “the experience of conscious involvement in the project of life integration through self-transcendence toward the ultimate value one perceives.”

Generally, the term spirituality is the human capacity for self transcendence, regardless of whether that experience is religious or not. Here, the activity of the human spirit, not the Holy Spirit, may be the reference. The fact is that no religion has complete ownership of the term spirituality as it once had with reference to the Holy Spirit, the product of a religious tradition.

There are definite qualities of the word spirituality which are made clear in today’s secular and religious uses of the word. First, it denotes an experience. It is not an abstract idea, or theory or movement. It is, however, a personal-lived reality with both active and passive dimensions. It is something that is experienced.

Secondly, it is an experience of a conscious involvement in a project. It is not temporary, but an ongoing and coherent approach to life, always consciously pursued.

Thirdly, it involves one’s whole life as an integrative process. It is not a temporary attitude, but rather an attitude about life that others model. It involves a life-integration, mind and body, emotions and thought, activity and passivity, social and individual aspects of life. Spirituality promotes an integrated synthesis of ongoing growth and development. Fourthly, spirituality pursues a consistent self-transcendence toward ultimate values. It is positive and not negative in direction. It excludes narcissistic egoism and self-destructive behaviors and thoughts. There must be a self-transcendent quality which is ultimate. This may include personal or social well-being, the good of the earth, justice for all or union with God as an ultimate value. In a culture without a self transcendent attitude in the form of gratitude, humility, awe and some form of a spiritual outlook, healing personal growth and well-being are often compromised.