January 2014 Spirituality



Humanism and Spirituality
Exploring what we mean by spirituality
and its place in our lives

Spirituality is something everyone can experience.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists says that spirituality, in its broader sense, is necessary for one’s mental health.


(We used their 9 page document on the subject as a springboard for our discussion.)

How is spirituality different from religion?

Religions do their own thing but include spirituality. However spirituality is something universal. Every person has his or her own individual spirituality. Spirituality is not tied to any particular religious belief or tradition. Religion is one of the avenues to express spirituality.

Spirituality involves a connection with the world and with each other. It is a profound feeling of this connection in heart and mind, which we struggle to express intellectually. It is transcending the sense of self. It is a ‘knowing’. It is awe, being ‘moved’, an intense feeling of gratitude; it is expansive, a surrender, up-lifting; it is hope, the resilience and strength within, the call to great endeavour.

Poetry, music and art are needed because you can’t easily fit spiritual feelings in to normal language. For many the arts are a heartfelt spiritual experience. The literal often fails to adequately express the intense emotions involved with spirituality. It is also for this reason that music and poetry are key features of religious services. The spiritual value of music in church is often underestimated.

We can touch on the spiritual even if it is not something religious. Love is a very good example of a subject in that range. Again, the need to transcend the limitation of reason turns us to poetry and music.

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.

The need for spirituality in our lives is also seen in the growth of the Sunday Assembly movement. http://www.sundayassembly.com

Its message of “live better, help often, wonder more” captures the essence of purpose that spirituality gives. The Sunday Assembly started a mere year ago. It has now spread to 47 cities across the globe. Many humanist groups are involved and they were represented with a presentation at the recent Group Representatives Annual Meeting (GRAM) held by the BHA.

Spirituality helps us to find meaning and purpose in the things we value. This statement from the Royal College of Psychiatrists is in accord with the intent expressed by the BHA and the Sunday Assembly and was shared by our meeting and those who took part in the Service for World Peace back in October.

As a footnote, the following is from Wikipedia:

The use of the term “spirituality” has changed throughout the ages. In modern times, spirituality is often separated from Abrahamic religions, and connotes a blend of humanistic psychology with mystical and esoteric traditions and eastern religions aimed at personal well-being and personal development. The notion of “spiritual experience” plays an important role in modern spirituality, but has a relatively recent origin.