This section is about spirituality. I wonder what goes on inside of you when you read that word. What thoughts, feelings, images are elicited? Undoubtedly some of you think of God (or god, or gawd) and religion. Some get fleeting images like wind--something insubstantial, ethereal and unrelated to your daily life as it is lived. Many of you just draw a blank--the word is meaningless. We can try that old experiment that teachers have often used to annoy students--can you write the definition? If not, you don't know what it means! I suspect that this is the case with most people when it comes to the topic of the human spirit. This fact, combined with the importance the human spirit has been accorded through the centuries, is what motivates this section.
At the very least, I hope this section will be able to provide a direction for discussion and debate. I do not pretend to provide "the truth" concerning spirituality--merely a framework for a renewed and contemporary understanding of the issue. My greatest hope, however, is that this will provide a working definition and rudimentary understanding of spirituality for use by all--including clinicians and academicians.
None of what follows is overwhelmingly original. It is the distillation of a number of years of study and thought on the subject--always with the assistance of many wonderful teachers. Many of the thinkers and scholars who have guided my thinking are named. I do this to give credit where credit is due and to leave a "trail" so to speak, for the debate of academics and clinicians.
Throughout all of this we are interested in spirituality as distinctively
human and as a naturally occurring human phenomenon. There will be no need for
supernatural appeals or justifications, no magic, no leaps of faith. Though
we will discuss the relation between spirituality and religious traditions there
will be no need for religious language. Spirituality is first and foremost human.