As long as we operate out of old assumptions that alienate us from Earth,
blind us to its spiritual dimensions, and prompt us to pursue economic development in
fatally immature ways, the destruction of Earth is likely to continue with grave consequences.
– Joseph Mitchell, CP

The so-called “spirituality movement” emerged in the 1960’s in the West, right alongside the feminist and ecology movements. According to researchers, this resulted from several influences. One is the overwhelming experience of violence in the 20th Century, which forced many people in the West to re-think the failure of the “progress of man” philosophy and to search for new meaning and understanding of what it means to be human.  Travel and immigration resulted in explorations by people in the West into Eastern spiritualities during this time. Another influence, certainly, is the first opportunity for humans to see our Earth from space, and to realize that we exist on a fragile ball floating in a very vast, seemingly cold and dark Universe. This new worldview prompted a questioning of former worldviews that formed the bedrock of many traditional religious traditions.

Within my own Catholic tradition, at least two events heightened exploration into spirituality. One of these influences was the Second Vatican Council, which adopted the concept of the “universal call to holiness” and encouraged “lay” participation in pastoral ministry. Another is the popularity from the 1960’s onward of the spiritual writings of Thomas Merton.

As a result of these influences and explorations, and many others, new definitions of “spirituality” now abound.  Here is my own evolving definition:

Spirituality describes our human reality of interconnectedness, known by us consciously or unconsciously. Our spiritual purpose and challenge is to grow in our capacity to live ever more consciously and with ever greater integrity this interrelationship with the source of our being and all of Creation.

Integral to this definition is the implication that our spiritual life is a journey. Many spiritual teachers and researchers have offered descriptions of the various stages one passes through on that journey.

Click Here for the first post on Spirituality in My Journey

Online Resources:

Website: Dr. Margaret Placentra Johnston’s easy explanation of the stages of the spiritual development http://www.exploring-spiritual-development.com/

Video: Spiritual but not Religious? (with Thomas Keating and Ken Wilber)

Recommended Books:
Michael Downey, Understanding Christian Spirituality
Diarmuid O’Murchu, Reclaiming Spirituality
Margaret Placentra Johnston, Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind
Richard and Jan Potter, Spiritual Development for Beginners
Charlene Spretnak. States of Grace: The Recovery of Meaning in the Postmodern Age
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment