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"The most widely accepted definition of spirituality"[edit]

These two edits added a definition to the lead, stating

"Currently the most widely accepted definition of Spirituality is 'a dynamic and intrinsic aspect of humanity through which persons seek ultimate meaning, purpose, and transcendence, and experience relationship to self, family, others, community, society, nature, and the significant or sacred...[and] is expressed through beliefs, values, traditions, and practices’’"

This definition comes from the field of palliative care, as published in Puchalski, Christina; Vitillo, Robert; Hull, Sharon; Relle, Nancy (2014). "Spiritual Dimensions of Whole Person Care: Reaching National and International Consensus". JOURNAL OF PALLIATIVE MEDICINE, Volume 17, Number 6. doi:10.1089/jpm.2014.9427. 
It's nice that health care workers try to make their field more compassionate, but one conference does not change the simple fact that there are hundreds of definitions on spirituality. Besides, this 'concencus definition' is so broad and vague that it can include almost anything, including jihadism and hooligans.
Crafting such "definitions" is misleading, as it suggests that there is an such exact thing as "spirituality," whereas the term is used to connote many "things" and ideas. It's more usefull to give a description of what's being meant with the term. In general, this will be "religion," as in going to church et cetera, and "meaning making" (Dutch: "zingeving"), that is, all the "things" that make life worthwhile. For most people, that will be caregiving and relatedness to others, which does not necessarily imply any explicit belief or practice, but 'just happens.' Religious traditions don't capture this in "definitions," but in commands: "love thy neigbor" (Christianity), or not even words, but only a statue or picture (Guanyin).
As for the health care workers, they have a general problem in that they work in a highly protocolised and technical environment, and regret the loss of the human aspect in their work. Ironically, and sadly, the construction of such "definitions" is yet another protocolisation... See also Jürgen Habermas and his The Theory of Communicative Action}, in which he makes a distinction between "the internal subjective viewpoint of the "lifeworld" and the external viewpoint of the "system"." Best regards, Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 05:03, 22 March 2016 (UTC)

The definition is a perfectly valid contribution to the conversation and might well be quoted to good purpose, without treating it as a universal consensus. What can be seen as "vagueness" can also be seen as inclusiveness.
In addition, let's try to avoid throwing sweeping statements about whole professions into the discussion. Caregivers have often been at the forefront of recent discussions about spirituality, for many and complex reasons. HGilbert (talk) 06:05, 22 March 2016 (UTC)
When we start adding definitions, we can add dozens of "definitions," which would be quite useless. I think we have to be very carefull with adding such definitions; it won't be very helpfull. It's not without reason that religions use narratives and commands. The definitions are for the theologians; ah, the wonder of huge libraries with dust-cathing books... Anyway, that's why the article says that there is no concensus. At best, we can say that religious studies and health care professionals have provided different definitions, for different reasons, and provide examples of those definitions. But to say that there is a "most widely accepted definition" is WP:OR. The only concencus is that thee is no widely agreed upon definition of spirituality.
Regarding the health care, I've been working there myself, and I know which discussions are going on there. The main point for health care professionals is the humanisation of the health care profession. "Spirituality" may not be the best instrument to reach this goal; it's too vague and ill-defined (sic). Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 09:08, 22 March 2016 (UTC)
I've been scrolling through the Puchalski; it contains a long list of recommendations which read as a 'colonisation' (Habermas) and medicalisation of "spirituality"... Anyway, I've added some info on health care and "spiritual care." NB: Google scholar gives 5,45o hits for 2012-2016 alone when searching for "health care" "spiritual care". Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 09:37, 22 March 2016 (UTC)

Comments on Puchalski[edit]

I'm reading Puchalsky now. There's something odd about that publication: it starts to talk (sic) about "spirituality" right away, wittout making claer what's being meant with it. That's an important omissions for a scholarly publication. Compassion appears to be a central element, though, according to this author. At page 643 we get to know more about what spirituality is:

"Clinicians, by being aware of their own spirituality — including a sense of transcendence, meaning and purpose, call to service, connectedness to others, and transformation — are more able to be compassionate with their patients."

Yech! Sounds very prescriptive and normative. Yet, at second thought, we may also call it "intrinsically motivated," or "self-actualisers." Hmmm, the same old stuff in another bottle.
Anyway, what surprises me about this publication is that "spirituality" is presented as a self-evident token, without any critical consideration or some self-reflection on the way the term is being used. The "definition" that's being given is only a vocalisation of this self-evident token. Compared to what chaplains, theologians, religious studies scholars, and psychologists of religions have to say about, it's very meager, almost naive. Where is social constructionism, to name only one important strand of thought, the idea that we construct our reality by giving meaning to our experience (see Ann Taves)- what's more, that we even create the "experiences" that "validate" our worldview. Or the cognitive science of religion, an important new development in the psychology of religion? All missing; only a "concensus 'definition'" which merely reiterates the preconceptions of the participants... Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 19:40, 22 March 2016 (UTC)


One citation in the lead (to reformation of the personality) failed verification, but the cited page provides a different, useful definition. I have replaced the unverifiable text with the verifiable one.

I am also moving the large footnote explaining some of the aspects of spirituality to the article's text, but outside the lead. HGilbert (talk) 10:35, 22 March 2016 (UTC)

I have the book in my persoanl library; how did it fail verification? Lead is fine so, though; thanks. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 11:05, 22 March 2016 (UTC)
I'm glad this works for you, too. Sometimes simplicity is better!
Failed verification because there was nothing relating to the sentence on the cited page. It may have come from somewhere else in the work? HGilbert (talk) 20:27, 22 March 2016 (UTC)


To be spiritual means to be of influence. Anything or any person can be spiritual. It is all in the eye of the beholder Or the person that is being influenced. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:55, 1 May 2016 (UTC)


Oops, my mistake: I presumed that "Sheldrake" referred to Rupert. Nevertheless, Sheldrake's definition, "deepest values and meanings by which people live", is just one of many definitions; it's arbitrary to present this one definition as "the" definition of spirituality; and it bypasses the fundamental finding that there is bewildering variety in definitions. At best, we can give an overview of definitions as presented by reliable sources. Best regards, Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 18:32, 4 September 2016 (UTC)

Sheldrake notes this breadth but suggests that "despite the fuzziness, it is possible to suggest that the word ‘‘spirituality’’ refers to the deepest values and meanings by which people seek to live.” This text from Blackwell Publishing, an academic press, is one of the best tertiary sources. Compare "spiritual development is about becoming a whole person, someone who stands for something that defines and gives meaning to being human" (Dowling and Scarlett, Encyclopedia of Religious and Spiritual Development, p. xxiii). These tertiary sources should take priority over the secondary sources that disagree on this point. (Similarly, David Ray Griffin defines spirituality: "to refer to the ultimate values and meanings in terms of which we live" in his Spirituality and Society)
Furthermore, it is perhaps unhelpful to start an article by declaring that the word is difficult to define. It seems to me that it would be better to start with an approximate definition such as Sheldrake's, and then note that there is considerable divergence around this. Clean Copytalk 20:02, 4 September 2016 (UTC)
Sheldrake's definition is given in a section on modern spirituality, and that's indeed what it's typical for. But I'll take a closer look at that source; it looks interesting. But, at second thought, given this definition, Nazism is also spirituality... Just like IS, for another example. So, actually, it's a non-definition. No, it's not satisfying. Those definitions are about 'meaning-making' ("zingeving", a Dutch word); that may be a broader concept than 'spirituality' (which is a contradictory statement of course, in this context, since it implies an 'exact' definition of spirituality). Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 04:46, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
PS: Dowling and Scarlett's definition of spiritual development comes closer, I think. Compare Waaijman. It's got to do with not just any "deepest values and meanings," but a more specific set, this "image of God." "Deepest values and meanings" seems to be secularized, a modern, broader understanding. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 04:51, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
PS2: LIndsay Jones, MacMillan Encyclopedia of Religion (2005), p.8718:
"SPIRITUALITY is the concern of human beings with their appropriate relationships to the cosmos. How the cosmic whole is conceived and what is considered appropriate in interacting with it differ according to worldviews of individuals and communities. Spirituality is also construed as an orientation toward the spiritual as distinguished from the exclusively material."
Regarding "to start an article by declaring that the word is difficult to define": that's exactly what you will learn when you follow a class on religion, be it theology, psychology of religion or whatever. It's also what you will find yourself when you dive into it. So, to suggest that there is an "approximate definition," when there is not, is misleading. Better to give a "fuzzy" short list of definitions which give an approximate description of the range of definitions. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 04:57, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
I've re-added Sheldrake. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 05:37, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
PS3: Sheldrake is not a general overview, but only about western Christian spirituality. At the first page of his introduction he already mentions four different paradigma's in the study of spirituality. At page 2 he also gives a more specific, Christian definition, which seems to be the proper starting point for his book. And in the second edition (2013), this single-line definition is replaced by an overview spanning 2-3 pages, in which he lists several aspects of "spirituality," without even "suggesting" an all-inclusive definition. So, the single-line definition from 2007 seems to have had some limitations... Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 05:49, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
The lead is improving. The first sentence is awkward and repetitious, however. Can we condense it to say once, what it is now saying twice?Clean Copytalk 13:26, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
@Clean Copy: I've rephrased the first sentence, and added a "bridge" to the following sentences (and taken the liberty to move this comment downward, for chronological order). Better (the sentence)? Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 15:33, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
@Joshua Jonathan: Nice work. I've continued to work on flow and clarity; I hope these changes work for you. (I appreciate the collaboration!) Clean Copytalk 13:10, 6 September 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @Clean Copy: nice phrasing. Not being a native speaker comes with limitations, no matter how much you learn... Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 13:20, 6 September 2016 (UTC)

Don't forget WP:LEADSENTENCE here. ("If its subject is definable, then the first sentence should give a concise definition: where possible, one that puts the article in context for the nonspecialist.") Is it worth cutting the existing first sentence ("Spirituality has developed many meanings over time.", which gives no definition or context) and going straight into "Traditionally, spirituality referred to a religious process of re-formation..."? --McGeddon (talk) 13:26, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
I've considered that too. But the simple point is: there is not one single, concise definition, but at least two. The context is the problem as I'd first phrased it, and is essential in understanding the complexity and multiple meanings and usages of this term:
"Spirituality is defined in many ways,[1][2][3][note 1] due to the development and changes of its meaning over time."
When we remove that context altogether, giving two definitions is still faithfull to the complexities and development of the term "spirituality," but not very clear. I've just expanded the first sentence again, but not as a 'definitive' first sentence, because it re-introduces the sentence "no single definition is universally accepted." Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 13:46, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
I've rephrased it again (editing by trial, so to speak):
"The meaning of spirituality has developed and expanded over time, and various connotations can be found alongside each other."
I've also shifted the bold writing of spirituality to the second instance of the term, since that is where the first definition appears. I hope that that may help as a compromise: noticing that various definitions exist, and focussing the quick reader to the definitions instead of the introductory context. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 13:53, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
If it's not possible to write a single sentence summarising the range of these definitions, I think we'd be fine with a three-sentence lede paragraph where the framing of the first sentence ("Traditionally...") made it clear that we'd be following it with alternative definitions. The current "various meanings ahead" opener just seems like filler, and flat-out fails "The first sentence should tell the nonspecialist reader what, or who, the subject is." --McGeddon (talk) 14:10, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
The policy contains a lot of "if's"; it should not push the subject into a format which does not represent or describe the subject correctly. See, among others:
  • "If possible, the page title should be the subject of the first sentence."
  • "If its subject is definable, then the first sentence should give a concise definition: where possible, one that puts the article in for the nonspecialist. Similarly, if the title is a specialised term, provide the context as early as possible."
The first sentence now contains the context. This context matters. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 15:41, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
You're right, and an attempt to wrangle multiple definitions into a single sentence might be too much, but WP:LEADSENTENCE opens with an ifless "The first sentence should tell the nonspecialist reader what, or who, the subject is". Starting the article at "Traditionally, spirituality referred to a religious process of..." (which tells the reader about the traditional religious meaning and implies the existence of other meanings) would do a much better job of setting out our stall than "developed and expanded over time, and various connotations can be found alongside each other" (which tells the reader that they're about to read multiple definitions of the subject, but gives no clue as to what that subject might be). --McGeddon (talk) 16:15, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
I agree that the first sentence should lead the reader into the topic rather than putting up warning signs. JJ: can you possibly let go of this and allow some creative thinking around how to forge a positively worded introductory sentence (or two)? Clean Copytalk 17:05, 6 September 2016 (UTC)


The term "spiritual" is used in social media to create a topic that is shared with other individuals who believe in spirituality as well. There are many social media pages that are devoted to spirituality and relaxation. Spirituality is also a way of thinking which brings positive energy into your life. It is being able to connect with different souls and higher consciousness. Being spiritual is being able to live in your truth and feeling the energy of the universe.

I added the above paragraph to the article "Spirituality" because it gives it a more broad meaning. There were many great points on spirituality and the different views on it. One thing I did not notice was the term used in social media. I believe "spirituality" is growing more and more everyday and people are learning about it through social media pages that are based on spirituality alone. These pages are inspiring and give insight on some of the ways to tap into your own spirituality. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Roxy25 (talkcontribs) 05:37, 8 November 2016 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Roxy25 (talkcontribs) 23:40, 8 November 2016 (UTC)