Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Religion or Spirituality

It often puzzles me when these two concepts are used interchangeably.  When Chaplains confuse the two, it really causes a raised eyebrow.  With that in mind, I will present some of the best and thorough-going definitions of the term ‘spirituality’.


“Spirituality is the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred.”  National Consensus Panel Report, Improving the Quality of Spiritual Care as a Dimension of Palliative Care: The Report of the Consensus Conference, October, 2009.


“We can define “spiritual” as a life force that awakens us to healing, wonder, community, trust, deep emotions and authentic hope.  What is “spiritual” within a person informs our understanding of identity, our place in the world, our purpose and our values.  This, in turn, inspires creativity, mutuality, morality, and serving the good of all.  This can be achieved through faith in a religion, of course, but by defining it this way, it need not be limited solely to the religious realm.”  Spiritual Health Therapy: New Nomenclature for Spiritual Care Provision at William Osler Health System, Plainviews, February 17, 2016

Volume 13 No. 2.


“Spirituality is the culmination of a person’s quest to discover the ultimate and transcendent meaning and purpose of his/her life. Spirituality reflects the essence and substance of that person - the values, thoughts, emotions, motivations, dreams, experiences, assumptions and relationships that make the person a unique individual. Spirituality provides the individual with the vitality, drive and determination to develop and function as a fully actualized person. Spirituality is not static; it changes over time in response to external events and the person’s ever-developing and evolving sense of self.”  Hillel Bodek, MSW, LCSW-R, BCD


I encourage all members of the IDT to review the above in order to recognize the depth and breadth of spirituality and to recognize it may include religious expression, but that religious expression is not required for a person to be spiritual. 

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