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They claim not only that belief is non-essential, but that it is potentially harmful or at least a hindrance to spirituality. According to Philip D. Kenneson, many of those studied who identify as SBNR feel a tension between their personal spirituality and membership in a conventional religious organization. Most of them value curiosity, intellectual freedom, and an experimental approach to religion. Many go as far to view organized religion as the major enemy of authentic spirituality, claiming that spirituality is private reflection and private experience—not public ritual.

To be "spiritual," in contrast, connotes personal practice and personal empowerment having to do with the deepest motivations of life. According to Robert Fuller, the SBNR phenomenon can be characterized as a mix of intellectual progressivism and mystical hunger, impatient with the piety of established churches. According to Robert Wuthnow, spirituality is about much more than going to church and agreeing or disagreeing with church doctrines. Spirituality is the shorthand term used in Western society to talk about a person's relationship with God.

Linda A. Mercadante categorizes SBNRs into five distinct categories: [21].


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  • Conceptualising spirituality for medical research and health service provision?

SBNR is related to feminist spiritual and religious thought and ecological spiritualities, [22] and also to Neo-Paganism , Wicca , Shamanic , Druidic , Gaian and ceremonial magic practices. Some representatives of organized religion have criticized the practice of spirituality without religiosity. Lillian Daniel, a liberal Protestant minister, has characterized the SBNR worldview as a product of secular American consumer culture, far removed from community and "right smack in the bland majority of people who find ancient religions dull but find themselves uniquely fascinating".

Other critics contend that within the "Spiritual but not Religious" worldview, self-knowledge and self-growth have been problematically equated with knowledge of God, directing a person's focus inward. As a result, the political, economic, and social forces that shape the world are neglected and left untended.

Conceptualising spirituality for medical research and health service provision

Classical mysticism within the world's major religions requires sustained dedication, often in the form of prolonged asceticism, extended devotion to prayer, and the cultivation of humility. In contrast, SBNRs in the Western world are encouraged to dabble in spiritual practices in a way that is often casual and lacking in rigor or any reorganization of priorities.

Sociologist Robert Wuthnow suggests that these forms of mysticism are "shallow and inauthentic". When contrasted with professional or academic theology, spiritual philosophies can appear unpolished, disjointed, or inconsistently sourced. Wong and Vinsky challenge SBNR discourse that posits religion as "institutional and structured" in contrast to spirituality as "inclusive and universal" According to them, Western discourses of "spirituality" appropriate indigenous spiritual traditions and "ethnic" traditions of the East, yet racialized ethnic groups are more likely to be labeled "religious" than "spiritual" by white SBNR practitioners.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. History Timeline. Christian Catholic Mysticism. Buddhist modernism New religious movement " Spiritual but not religious " Syncretism. Spiritual experience. Mystical experience Religious experience Spiritual practice. Spiritual development. Ego death Individuation Spiritual development Self-actualization. Other non-Western.

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Animism Shamanism Totemism. Humanistic psychology Mindfulness Positive psychology Self-help Self-realization True self and false self. Mystical psychosis Cognitive science of religion Neuroscience of religion Geschwind syndrome Evolutionary psychology of religion. See also: Spirituality and New Age. And as for spirituality, this is an old concept with a new usage. Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Bulletin for the Study of Religion. New Age thinkers usually enter the ditch on the other side of the road: They idealize altered states of consciousness and draw specious connections between subjective experience and the spookier theories at the frontiers of physics.

Here we are told that the Buddha and other contemplatives anticipated modern cosmology or quantum mechanics and that by transcending the sense of self, a person can realize his identity with the One Mind that gave birth to the cosmos. Few scientists and philosophers have developed strong skills of introspection—in fact, most doubt that such abilities even exist. Conversely, many of the greatest contemplatives know nothing about science.

But there is a connection between scientific fact and spiritual wisdom, and it is more direct than most people suppose. Although the insights we can have in meditation tell us nothing about the origins of the universe, they do confirm some well-established truths about the human mind: Our conventional sense of self is an illusion; positive emotions, such as compassion and patience, are teachable skills; and the way we think directly influences our experience of the world.

There is now a large literature on the psychological benefits of meditation. Different techniques produce long-lasting changes in attention, emotion, cognition, and pain perception, and these correlate with both structural and functional changes in the brain. This field of research is quickly growing, as is our understanding of self-awareness and related mental phenomena.

Deepen Your Relationship with God

Given recent advances in neuroimaging technology, we no longer face a practical impediment to investigating spiritual insights in the context of science. Spirituality must be distinguished from religion—because people of every faith, and of none, have had the same sorts of spiritual experiences. While these states of mind are usually interpreted through the lens of one or another religious doctrine, we know that this is a mistake. Nothing that a Christian, a Muslim, and a Hindu can experience—self-transcending love, ecstasy, bliss, inner light—constitutes evidence in support of their traditional beliefs, because their beliefs are logically incompatible with one another.

A deeper principle must be at work. There is no discrete self or ego living like a Minotaur in the labyrinth of the brain. And the feeling that there is—the sense of being perched somewhere behind your eyes, looking out at a world that is separate from yourself—can be altered or entirely extinguished. From both a scientific and a philosophical point of view, they represent a clearer understanding of the way things are. Confusion and suffering may be our birthright, but wisdom and happiness are available. I am often asked what will replace organized religion. The answer, I believe, is nothing and everything.

Nothing need replace its ludicrous and divisive doctrines—such as the idea that Jesus will return to earth and hurl unbelievers into a lake of fire, or that death in defense of Islam is the highest good. These are terrifying and debasing fictions. But what about love, compassion, moral goodness, and self-transcendence?

Spirituality, Change & Patience

Many people still imagine that religion is the true repository of these virtues. To change this, we must talk about the full range of human experience in a way that is as free of dogma as the best science already is. Rather, my goal is to pluck the diamond from the dunghill of esoteric religion.

There is a diamond there, and I have devoted a fair amount of my life to contemplating it, but getting it in hand requires that we remain true to the deepest principles of scientific skepticism and make no obeisance to tradition. Readers who are loyal to any one spiritual tradition or who specialize in the academic study of religion, may view my approach as the quintessence of arrogance. I consider it, rather, a symptom of impatience. There is barely time enough in a book—or in a life—to get to the point. Just as a modern treatise on weaponry would omit the casting of spells and would very likely ignore the slingshot and the boomerang, I will focus on what I consider the most promising lines of spiritual inquiry.

My hope is that my personal experience will help readers to see the nature of their own minds in a new light. I share the concern, expressed by many atheists, that the terms spiritual and mystical are often used to make claims not merely about the quality of certain experiences but about reality at large. Far too often, these words are invoked in support of religious beliefs that are morally and intellectually grotesque. Consequently, many of my fellow atheists consider all talk of spirituality to be a sign of mental illness, conscious imposture, or self-deception.

This is a problem, because millions of people have had experiences for which spiritual and mystical seem the only terms available. Many of the beliefs people form on the basis of these experiences are false. The human mind does, in fact, contain vast expanses that few of us ever discover. And there is something degraded and degrading about many of our habits of attention as we shop, gossip, argue, and ruminate our way to the grave.

Perhaps I should speak only for myself here: It seems to me that I spend much of my waking life in a neurotic trance.

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My experiences in meditation suggest, however, that an alternative exists. It is possible to stand free of the juggernaut of self, if only for moments at a time. Most cultures have produced men and women who have found that certain deliberate uses of attention—meditation, yoga, prayer—can transform their perception of the world.

Their efforts generally begin with the realization that even in the best of circumstances, happiness is elusive. We seek pleasant sights, sounds, tastes, sensations, and moods. We satisfy our intellectual curiosity. We surround ourselves with friends and loved ones. We become connoisseurs of art, music, or food. But our pleasures are, by their very nature, fleeting. If we enjoy some great professional success, our feelings of accomplishment remain vivid and intoxicating for an hour, or perhaps a day, but then they subside.

And the search goes on.