Monday, September 21, 2015

Spirituality for Life

The Cycle of Spirituality

 Spirituality


Spirituality involves an awakening to life that relates us more deeply to life. The imagination opens to new possibility. Life is seen and heard in a new way. One recognizes that there are deeper currents operating in life. There are dimensions of life yet to be explored, all of which offer greater depth, connection, centeredness and wholeness.

However, spirituality is not a singular activity, but an integration of different activities, spread out over a shorter or longer period. Theologian David Ranson suggests that spirituality involves four stages of a cycle: attendinginquiringinterpreting, and acting. First, in attending, there is an initial spiritual moment of awakening or awareness, where a person recognizes that something or someone is beckoning them. Second, inquiring involves wanting to explore deeper aspects of the beckoning received. Third, interpreting introduces the social and religious sphere of spirituality where a person reflects on the deeper meaning of the beckoning experienced. Finally acting renders spirituality more than just an idea but a way of living.


Ideally then, the spiritual task is to bring the process to a completion by moving through the four phases in the cycle of spirituality.


The Cycle of Spirituality 


The spiritual moment
(awakening and awareness)


The religious movement
(interpretation and evaluation)

(1)  Attending
Recognizing that something is beckoning us

(4) Acting
Unifying the world in response to this beckoning


(2)  Inquiring
Exploring deeper aspects of this beckoning


(3)  Interpreting
Reflecting on the deeper meaning of this beckoning

The personal sphere
(pre-creedal)


The social sphere
(creedal)


The cycle may be split in half by stalling in phases (1) and (2), or in phases (3) and (4), so separating “spirituality” from “religion”. A person may remain in the awareness and expression of what beckons them, which may be ill-defined. Alternatively, a person may remain uncritically loyal to a code of religious conduct.


Furthermore, the cycle may be split into triangles, if one omits one of the phases:


Omitting (1) – leads one into a spirituality lacking interiority. 
Omitting (2) – leads one into an uncritical, devotional spirituality. 
Omitting (3) – leads to a spirituality characterized by prejudice. 
Omitting (4) – leads to a cerebral pseudo-spirituality. 


In sum, spirituality involves an awakening to life that relates us more deeply to life. However, spirituality is not a singular activity, but an integration of different activities, spread out over a shorter or longer period. In a most insightful way, theologian David Ranson suggests that spirituality involves four stages of a cycle: (1) attending, (2) inquiring, (3) interpreting, and (4)acting.



Source  : Excerpted from and based on David Ranson, “Spirituality: What Is That?”, in Across the Great Divide: Bridging Spirituality and Religion Today (Sydney: St Pauls, 2000), 17-20, 27.


Photo credit: Intellimon Ltd.