Exploring the Essence: What Does Spirituality Mean in the Modern World?

Exploring the Essence: What Does Spirituality Mean in the Modern World?

1. Introduction

The aim of this article is to analyze the changes in the essence of concepts such as spirituality and personal evolution in the modern age, as well as their development. There is an opinion that physical expression is the spiritual essence, and that both business and morality are guided by the structures of the human organism. It is evident that human behavior reveals the spiritual life of a person, and vice versa, the unique physiology defines the spiritual aspects. However, it is likely that some spiritual substances of a person are more than just a reflection or properties of specific configurations of matter (this can be inferred from the systemic and self-organizing properties of the organism). Certainly, possessing spiritual substance does not exclude arguments for its particular implementation into the structures of the organism, specifically the brain.

The modern age, which is characterized by rapid changes, suggests specific preconditions for the development of society and individuals. Today, we can observe major revisions of traditional ways of living. Money has become the most desired possession, democracy limits freedom, and the structure of the family is changing. It is important to also consider the changes in the essence of a person. Spirituality, as an essential part of human essence, can be viewed from different perspectives - material, spiritual principles, body, soul, and spirit. In general terms, spirituality is the relationship between a person and their life space, and the way they become aware of and understand meaning. Science and spirituality intersect through the acquisition of knowledge, resulting in spiritual experiences, while religion combines them into faith.

1.1. Background

Seeking not so much to pinpoint the essence of spirituality as its importance as guidance in life, the goal of our study is to explore, from the standpoint of laypeople, how modern society understands this dimension, where (if anywhere) it finds expression and, above all, to what extent it provides guidance. Indeed, people's tendency to seek or not seek contact with the spiritual dimension also offers additional support for the idea of spirituality. Every person and all the experiences, feelings, and relationships lived by the individual provide an opportunity to approach or to question spirituality, explains Best (2006, p. 42). Again, while "religion is an agreement about spirituality that is especially present in institutional practices centered around the divine; spirituality represents the human activity of life that can be directly attributed to that agreement" (Le Ron, 1994, p. 297).

In the quest for personal fulfillment, how can we avoid confusion and poor choices? Happiness eludes many precisely because we expect joy from the wrong places. Meanwhile, everything connected to the spirit is mistaken for religion. What, then, in the secular modern world does spirituality mean? Clearly, people need to answer the question if we are to avoid the pitfalls of a superficial, materialistic society. The soul or "that which connects us with purity, with the absolute, and with values of higher scale, corresponds to the spiritual dimension of the human being" (Boff, 2004, p. 65). Hampered by the plenitude of the world, attempts to describe "that which is not made of matter, forms that are not necessarily solid, such as emotional harmony and the union felt in love" (Cotrim, 2012, p. 16).

2. Defining Spirituality

It is also important to discriminate the term 'spirituality' from the adjacent field of 'religion'. To be sure, spirituality and religion are essentially different phenomena. As Hyde and Linn (1986) pointed out, the phrase 'the spiritual life' was not first used until the fourteenth century as a contrast to the phrase 'religious life'; prior to this time there had been no differentiation because the oral teaching regarding spirituality and the life of prayer had always formed a part of the Church teaching.

After distinguishing spirituality from such areas as theology and psychology, I define spirituality as a fundamental property of human existence, emerging from the very essence of personality. Spirituality as an essential feature of personal experience is characterized by a set of hallmarks, which are identified. What are the characteristics of spirituality? The search for, and the fulfillment of, distinctive meaning are both pointedly concerned with the issue of individual responsibility. I conclude with practical implications. Differentiation between theology and psychology is important and critical to the present paper. Etymologically, the term theology constitutes a compound consisting of the 'divine' and 'word', the corresponding term conveys the idea of a rational reflection on God or the sacred. Accordingly, theology refers to a discourse about the divine. In the Christian tradition, sacred texts and the revealed word of God are the essential elements of theological research.

2.1. Traditional vs. Modern Perspectives

In traditional perspective, spirituality is deeply grounded in humble moral development. Therefore, values to which we attach significance are related in turn to a concern for other people and for the world in which we live. Spiritual values involve beliefs about the innate dignity of all people and of the world, and about their intrinsic worth. Spiritual values are therefore concerns which seem to be intrinsic to the human condition, or to our idea of what being human and humane entails. In contrast to conventional, moral values, spirituality seems to elicit a qualitative experience, a powerful emotional response. It connects the individual not just to a sense of being part of a culture or an organization or a society but to an experience of being an integral part of a vast, outward stretch of community, of nature, of time or space. Thus, spirituality becomes about the experiencing of deep connection, fulfilment, meaning, communion, a sense of oneness or fulfilment and aliveness with, for example, one's community, a named Being, a specific national history, a powerful tradition such as music or science.

People have been looking at spirituality for thousands of years of human culture. During the whole spirituality history, we can find various definitions, of numerous interpretations and expressions of spirituality. Ancient cultures offered their own definitions and reflections on spirituality and religion, in the frame of the particular challenges they were facing during their time. In this way, the definition of spirituality has been developing, changing, and reflecting the typical problems of each era, modifying along with human cultures and human needs. There are various theories of spirituality, which can be made relevant to or incorporated into modern concepts of aspects of spirituality. Each of these theories may help to increase understanding of the different levels of meaning and experience associated with spirituality.

3. Spirituality in Different Cultures

Spirituality is a personal quest for understanding answers to our origins and our destiny. The meaning of life is intangible, as much as love, to which it is intimately linked. The subject of any reflection on spirituality is important to joining man with the impersonal power of the feelings of anxiety and guilt, sin and penitence, contrition and forgiveness. The rising spiritual sensibility is a strong feature of our time where, in the most sordidly material terms of life, marked religious atavism coexists with a new faith in education, understanding, the need to appreciate, and an increased value with regard to the environment in which they have to live. All of this indicates that we are beginning to understand different aspects of the spiritual sense. Whence came the impulse to seek answers to the mystery of our existence? Everything is interconnected on this Earth. The wind transports our planet's empowerment to everyone on Earth, which includes everything. I reflect that the body and the soul must harmonize into just one body and one soul with the supreme. Man must experience complementary unity. God sacrificed his life and thus proves the strength of what happens between the relationship of the two realities. When one perfectly understands this natural context, this level, he becomes God. This level should not be passively assimilated through the observation of it, however, nor with an instinctive impulse or through contemplation. We have to get this information. By means, or through living, loving, and observing his brother, man can only feel human. Only by becoming a universal human being will man become divine.

None of us can be certain of the true color of our own lights, let alone the lights of others. Who can claim to unravel all the currents and motions of his own spirit? We pierce through the unique appearances of different civilizations and times, but with the very act of dividing, we instantly mingle what we separate, since everything is diversely riveted within the whole. The things that are distant from our hectic capacities of understanding are never numerous and concern our strength cannot encompass. The affections are impelled directly into me. They might all be seen in themselves, but the mind lacks the ability to gaze into all things at once. Let us then reveal the manner of the human mind, far back, before the time of records. Accordingly, we are not born for ourselves but for the common good. The separate interests shall always be expanded for the common well-being. Virtue and reliability do not crystallize unless they revolve around the transmission of benefits of everything in common.

3.1. Eastern Philosophies

As a very broad overview, Indian thought can be divided between the Hindu Vedanta, which is rooted in the revealed literature known as the Vedas and associated sutras, and the philosophies that emerged from their interpretation, such as Purnacandra or Sankara. Buddhism, a movement that originated in the context of Hindu thought, eventually rejected the divinities (specifically Brahma) and much of the framework of Vedic philosophy and practice. Jaina philosophy is similar in many ways to Buddhism, though its view of the universe and its denizens is radically different from the plurality comprising momentary entities conceived in Jainism as the supreme reality, or Jain dharma. Lokayata, meaning "worldly," sometimes referred to as Carvaka, was an early naturalistic school of Hindu thought, founded by Ajita Kesakambali. Carvaka embraces philosophical skepticism and utilizes empirical epistemology. This philosophical tradition is the one that has often been described as committed to rational empiricism and explicitly denying the moral and religious basis of Hindu thought.

Original source material emanating from India, China, Korea, and Japan can be greatly enriched by studying both the histories of these cultures while focusing especially on their many rich historical roots. Excavating what has given life to these cultures until today, the analysis, and interpretation of the literary masterpieces, folklore, fairy tales, myths, legends, and rituals that were used as a base on which most philosophical orientations were built.

Eastern philosophies, in their broader meaning, have a very long history reaching deep into prehistory and are composed of cultural elements often entwined in complex ways with those from other neighboring regions. As a collection, these are often contrasted with Western philosophies by way of analysis or contrast that form the backbone of what most understand as philosophy. Eastern thought has even, in the context of the modern world, shown a remarkable resilience and consistency, retaining its hope of creating a meaningful human existence.

3.2. Western Traditions

In light of the struggle against Western hegemony led by Islam, traditional Muslim religiosity is contextualized in politics. The West versus the Rest, Vanguard Islam, and Islamism are contrasted approaches to not only modern issues but also to the meaning of modernity itself. Post-modernity is examined in the context of pan-Islamic continuity. However, rather than seeing traditional beliefs simply as interesting alternatives that balance or critique the spiritual inclinations of the West, this research offers an alternative approach. Focusing on the moral Islamic entity and examining the lived experience of Islamic morality in diffuse societies ties Islam to other major religious beliefs from their common coevality. Nonetheless, vestiges of religious conflicts still endure in our modern world. Reliable knowledge from our spiritual entity, such as representing people through multiculturalism, can ease the discord suffered by societies.

Another approach to modern spirituality is to explore traditional Christian religious structures as they manifest themselves in secular society. Traditional Christian religious beliefs have been secularized in the West, meaning they no longer require formal belief or need to be subscribed to by the larger congregations. Their culturally specific modes have lost many of their institutional attachments, grounding themselves ever more firmly into the emotional and personal experiences of the faithful. As their institutions decline, alternative and less hierarchical communities of the faithful spring up to pick up the lost functions. Believers often resist institutional control, lay claim to different sorts of knowledge that grant alternative interpretations of faith, contest religious bifurcation, and place scientific evidence on the same footing as sacred dogma. A new form of religious experience based simply on the self-existent entity of spirituality ties Christianity to other major religious beliefs through their common origin. As such, the irrationality of belief, the certain knowledge of heaven, or the saintly ideal held by believers are things of the past as faith dwells in our essence.

4. Spirituality and Well-being

Among the recognized dimensions, especially in populations with health problems such as individuals deprived of freedom and those who care for others, negative religious coping is often associated with higher levels of depression and may serve as a trigger for abnormal behavior and thus justify why spirituality is shunned in clinical practice. Reflecting on the growing body of spiritual dimensions that are, today, of great importance, this review article collects and discusses some current perspectives that underline the importance and need for greater exploration of spirituality among practitioners of health-related professions. Since the essence of spirituality is unique and dynamic, in the sense that it is not concerned only with the aspects of belief and religion, but is rather a much broader concept, it should be integrated and added to the educational programs of these professionals. Only in this way can one promote the well-being and provide the most holistic care to their patients, safely conferring that which today remains the essence and meaning of being human.

The attention given to religious beliefs neglects the dialectics of the human experience and overshadows and obscures the richness of spirituality in which the life of each person is inserted and which often goes beyond religious practices and beliefs.

Spirituality is considered as an important aspect of the quality of life and a fundamental factor in the life of all individuals, regardless of age, sex, race, and socioeconomic status. As a result, increasingly greater numbers of healthcare providers seek to integrate spiritual dimensions in patient care. This integration is in accordance with current guidelines in many international medical and nursing institutions. Evidence indicates that spirituality is a determinant of health and is associated with a higher quality of life and reduced risk of stress-related pathologies across all age groups. But, due to the lack of consensus concerning the meaning of spirituality and its definition, the religious dimension is frequently prioritized in research and clinical practice, leaving aside the transcendent aspects, whatever the individual beliefs.

4.1. Mental Health Benefits

Religious affiliation, church attendance, and subjective religiosity exhibit a moderately strong negative association with major depressive disorder (MDD) and other mood disorders. Empirical evidence has shown that participation in religious services has a crude effect in lowering the prevalence of major depression and dysthymia, and this is because those who attend the services tend to have time to interact with others and to receive emotional and economic support. Another review, assessing the effect of religion on mental health, has provided evidence of the benefit of religious involvement on depressive symptoms, psychological distress, substance abuse, self-esteem, life satisfaction, and social support. Many studies, and more systematic reviews, suggest that believers exhibit a reduced risk of depressive symptoms because of their faith. Indeed, empirical evidence has shown a cross-national correlation between suicides and religiosity: in many, but not all, studies, an inverse relationship between religiosity and the suicide rate.

People with beliefs, religion, or spirituality have found enjoyment and fulfillment from their lives. This also includes the sense of hope, optimism, and confidence. Neuroscientists and psychologists have suggested that people seek out relief from the brute reality of the modern world that is so overwhelming that they shield from it alternate versions of reality. For many people, faith and spirituality offer a release from the harsh realities of the material world. Material comfort and technological progress are not enough for people to be content with their lives: a growing number of individuals are pursuing relief of the soul, seeking to belong and find meaning in their existence. Research has, according to a review, consistently shown a positive relationship between religiosity, or closely related spirituality, and well-being, happiness, life satisfaction, and mental health, reducing hopelessness and suicidal feelings and helping cope with stress, death, and grief.

4.2. Physical Health Impacts

Thus, spirituality does improve their physical health, and it helps them to remain strong, energetic, and motivated. It should be noted that some emailed me during the research for this work to state that it also helps alcoholics to get clean. Lastly, found that having a spiritual practice of any kind helps many people to counter stress, find meaning in their lives, and gain emotional strength. These findings are also parallel to those of the non-empirical review of the literature that focused on several general mental health components such as health, happiness, and stress resolution impacts of spirituality found by . These studies suggest that spirituality does have general health benefits.

A number of researchers have also found that spiritual exercises and practices can have health benefits. found that there is substantial evidence that a number of spiritual activities can improve general health and medical conditions such as reducing anxiety, depression, blood pressure, and increasing well-being. found that the more people pray or meditate, the better their physical health, stress regulation, and cognitive skills for specific aging functions are enhanced. found that spiritual activity does have remarkable health benefits. She stated that when people are spiritually active, even in a society that is hostile towards spirituality, they are quicker back on their feet after surgery when others remain bedridden.

5. Spirituality in the Digital Age

In the digital age, new spiritual paths will emerge, probably blending mysticism and science. Mind, consciousness, intelligence, are complex and mysterious phenomena about which we know very little. We are at the beginning. In the future, neuroscience and other disciplines may surprise us. What may happen, we do not know, but we are continuously faced with unexplainable phenomena (OBE, NDE, ESP); and we understand that in the universe there are natural phenomena which, if we don’t know how to explain them, we can call spiritual. Therefore, out of respect for this universe, for this creation that we don’t know completely, but whose wonder makes us feel part of the unity, we must try to humanize our societies, but always try to grow ethical awareness and love. Technology, with spiritual guidance, can therefore accompany this change. There will be those who will want to continue traditional spiritual paths and those who believe it is possible to travel on a spiritual path outside religious institutions.

Spirituality, being a deeply personal matter, cannot be standardized. It aims to experience inner transcendence, seeking the inner essence in relation to the laws of existence of the world. What will be influencing spirituality in the future? It is the digital age. In what way can technology influence spiritual practices? It can provide the tools to improve and accelerate the processes of personal growth and transformation of human beings. Can it help people search for the essential? It can try to guide them through the process. Can it help to provide more meaning to life? It can determine a significant change in the values that orient existence. But it is consciousness what aims to protect. Technology is a means, not the substance; spirituality is the essence, not the form.

5.1. Online Communities and Practices

The web becomes the principal source of communication and understanding for many, not least the spiritually curious and experienced. Gigabyte-to-terabyte research libraries include all major sacred texts and numerous interpretations of those texts. Before logging off, users can link into conferences, salons, discussions, live chat, videoconferencing, and access up-to-date accompanying research reports. What can be expected from all of this convergence between massive spiritual thought and expression and the people who express it? And why is this so important? What is driving this insatiable interest in the conscious and spiritual other?

Social networks are growing and multiplying rapidly. All kinds of people, including those who are "spiritual," are increasingly present on the web. New forms of practice and community are emerging. Psychedelic voyagers from the 1960s and 1970s are re-emerging on the web, sharing their adventurous explorations of spiritual "unknowns" which the latest neuroscience theory and research supports as the foundation of all spirituality. Their conversations are revitalizing an expanding audience of enthusiastic signature explorers. The result is a multitude of insights about the impact on human spirituality and a way of life in our rapidly changing world.

6. Conclusion

Much harm has been done by intrusive, presumptive discrimination against what people do or say, without parity or respect of mutual rights. The world is only one, a single common human destiny makes us move in one single direction, wanting together fulfillment in human life for all human beings. Will such an incentive not combine in and give coherence to the essential needs of humanity? It is surely admitted that there is a moral imagination and that it has played a positive, generative and fortifying part. We also want to admit and recognize that the spiritual achievement and the spiritual striving of the human being have in fact their proper germinative power and lead to a structuring of the interiority, to decoloration of chaos that trouble in the interior of ourselves. Is it sufficient that spirituality should exist and that it should more or less succeed in breaking out despite misunderstandings and restrictions by the pressures of civilization, for it to become a regulatory principle of civilization?

The word 'spirituality' is relatively new, having been hardly used at all in the nineteenth century but increasingly frequent from 1960. If we widen the circle and think of the human condition in general, we can say that, in man, we also find not only spirituality with all its fruits of peace, growth, happiness, and poetry, but also ingenuity and transgression, of savagery and destruction, of separations and misunderstandings. Despite all the contradictions, the modern world must be deeply enough convinced of the nobility, grandeur, and the indispensable character of spiritual life to act on its own account, this disinterested life, appreciating and encouraging the permanent progress of this in us, and proceeding with tolerance towards various types of harmonious arrangements due to each mode of known existence.

6.1. Key Insights

Third, spirituality means socious (fellow-citizen), and then ego. Ganardi here referred to Marcel as he invented this word. The truth, as it is intended by a single person, can only become a common truth through the participation of all. In fact, human beings do not dispose of a private truth which is merely in their possession. Any talk about a private truth is absurd, as truth acknowledges no divisions among people. That truth displayed by others, however, becomes a common truth in the face of any single person who thereby experiences the wise relativization of self.

This is the meaning of the aeon which is projected onto the cupola’s perfection from the man who "finds himself" in the pleasurable silence of his greatness, obtaining full freedom while finding himself in happiness.

Second, spirituality means a person’s awareness of their participatory nature because it is only possible to contemplate the eternal (spiritual, divine) through negation of one’s own interests (turning one’s gaze away from the ego). Ganardi rather vividly elucidates this point by considering the Pantheon of Rome, where the flying-dove metaphor for spirit awaits its worthy fate in the face of the oculus (a round opening in the center of the dome with a diameter equal to height). The human being, too, is called to be part of the divine world, through participation with the divine truth, and he will only become capable of this after negating the ego.

First, every clear understanding of spirituality presupposes both proper comprehension of the two-level (horizontal and vertical) structuring of being and human being and acknowledgment of the reality of the spiritual world. The vertical structuring of the surrounding world presents the moral order of the universe (its normative foundation) and, through this foundation, the pathway (and telos) of human life that has potential meaning. In fact, the moral order embraces the hierarchy of values, guiding a person towards the real good. Ego is capable of representing all attractive things as bearers of final value, even when this capacity is still in the embryonic stage, as in the case of the desire for well-being and happiness.

What's Your Reaction?