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Some Remarkable Overlaps in the Study of Present-Day Spiritualities

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Chapter Summary

Although spirituality is primarily associated with special personal or private experiences, it is remarkable that most of the practices discussed in this book are collective activities, for instance Western Buddhist meditation, Christian devotions and exercises, popular pilgrimages, ethical business activities, and the fight against alcoholism. By and large present-day spiritualities appear to involve collective ideas and practices, even if they are very different and in many ways contrasting. Spirituality can be described as a specific attitude (of the participants), but the easiest access to it is through (analysis of) practices. Elisabeth Hense proposes six fields of spiritual practices, which all merit detailed research: spiritualities of institutional religions, in popular contexts, in organizational contexts, education, health care and the arts. A distinction on which several authors reflect is that between popular and non-popular spiritualities. Another distinction concerns substantive areas and corresponding worldviews: theistic, holistic and secular spiritualities.

Keywords: Christian devotions; Elisabeth Hense; ethical business activities; popular pilgrimages; spirituality; western Buddhist meditation



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