Spirituality Explained

Sarah Bowman

Sarah Bowman, Secular Humanist: studied theology, social work, some philosophy, anthropology

I think spirituality for all people is that feeling of transcendence, of awe, of other-worldliness that sometimes comes over a person especially when in the presence of a great natural phenomenon such as the ocean, a tall mountain or majestic tree or beautiful sunset or fierce storm. It can also happen when surrounded by lovely music, when engaged in dance, listening to a powerful sermon, in prayer, singing, or chanting. Sometimes it happens for no reason at all, especially if we are in deep grief and needing comfort, or with an overwhelming joy such as the birth of one’s child or news of the safe arrival of a loved one. Compare Rudolph Otto’s book Idea of the Holy: An Inquiry into the Non-Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and its Relation to the Rational, especially the “Translator’s Preface” by John Harvey.

Theists attribute the feeling to proof of God’s presence and existence. I attribute it to evidence of psychological functioning, a physical response to an overwhelming or over-awing situation. That this feeling can be artificially stimulated convinced me it all begins and ends in the human psyche and has nothing to do with an external Presence called God or any other name. See the article “This is Your Brain on God.”

The body has wonderful ways of coping with and enjoying life and the world in which it evolved. Enjoy it.


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