According to one account, spiritual experience across history and culture has these core features:
• A degree of aliveness and intensity that makes ‘normal experience’ seem vapid and attenuated.
• A sense of belonging and connectedness, of being part of a larger whole, of being naturally ‘at home’, that highlights a common background feeling of loneliness or alienation in normal experience.
• A sense of caring and compassion towards other people in general, and even aspects of nature and the environment, that makes their well-being matter in a non-possessive way, and compared to which normal experience seems apathetic or of less meaning.
• A feeling of depth; of calm connectedness and open involvement with mystery and uncertainty without any insecurity, compared with a rather anxious dogmatism – a need to feel right or certain – that attends normal experience.
• A feeling of ease and lightness, of peace, acceptance and harmony, that contrasts with a background sense of agitation, restlessness or unsatisfactoriness that seems often to accompany normal experience.from Science and Spirituality: ‘Effing the Ineffable’ by Guy Claxton (2013) quoted in Spiritualise by Jonathan Rowson, RSA (2014), which also quotes Oliver Robinson:
Science and spirituality are streams of culture with a common source in the progressive, rebellious ethos of modernity. They are both premised on the values of exploration, questioning, continued innovation, and of never-ending search.
Photo: Douglas Griffin