Spirituality may include belief in supernatural powers, as in religion, but the emphasis is on experience. What is referred to as "religion" and what is referred to as "spirituality" are often the same. In recent years, "spirituality" has often carried connotations of the believer's faith being more personal, less dogmatic, more open to new ideas and myriad influences, and more pluralistic than the faiths of established religions. Those given to speaking of "spirituality" rather than "religion" are apt to believe that there are many "spiritual paths" and that there is no objective truth about which is the best path to follow. On the other hand, there are many adherents of orthodox religions who consider spirituality to be an aspect of their religious experience, and they are more likely to contrast spirituality with secular "worldliness" than with the ritual expression of their religion. Others of a more New Age disposition hold that spirituality is not religion, per se, but the active and vital connection to a force, power, or sense of the deep self.
Some proponents of spirituality believe that the goal of 'being spiritual' is to simultaneously improve one's wisdom, willpower and communion with God/universe, which necessitates the removal of illusions at the sensory, feeling and thinking aspects of a person. The 'Plato's cave' analogy in book VII of The Republic is one of the most well known descriptions of the spiritual development process.
Other spiritual proponents point out that that spirituality is a two-stroke process. The upward stroke relates to inner growth and the downward stroke relates towards manifesting improvements in the world/reality around us as a result of the inward change.
The rule of thumb when evaluating any spiritual approach is that six months of diligent, proper practice should manifest noticeable improvement in one's life. If not, then the usual advice is to pick an approach that is more likely to assist you in achieving your specific goals.
- Wikipedia (2004). Spirituality (http://www.wikipedia.org/Spirituality). Retrieved Oct. 16, 2004.