The meaning of spirituality has developed and expanded over time, and various connotations can be found alongside each other.[1][2][3]3

Traditionally, spirituality referred to a religious process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man”,4 oriented at “the image of God”[4][5] as exemplified by the founders and sacred texts of the religions of the world. The term was used within early Christianity to refer to a life oriented toward the Holy Spirit[6] and broadened during late medieval times to include mental aspects of life.

In modern times the term both spread to other religious traditions[7] and broadened to refer to a wider range of experience, including a range of esoteric traditions and religious traditions. Modern usages tend to refer to a subjective experience of a sacred dimension[8] and the “deepest values and meanings by which people live”,[9][10] often in a context separate from organized religious institutions,[11] such as a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm,[12]personal growth,[13] a quest for an ultimate or sacred meaning,[14]religious experience,[15] or an encounter with one’s own “inner dimension”.[16]

Footnotes

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