It turns out that nearly one in five Americans is spiritual but not religious. And importantly, there are some significant differences between those who are spiritual and those who are not. For example, a consistently higher percentage of those who are spiritual (whether religious or non-religious) report feeling inspired while doing activities such as listening to music or reading a book.
This may seem like a bizarre divergence, until one thinks about the fundamental meaning of spirituality. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said: “Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement … get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”
Spirituality, in its purest form, is not an escape from the world but a richer engagement with it. In contrast to a reductionistic disposition, which collapses the world to the rational and empirical, a spiritual disposition understands that there is always more to this world and to other people, things that are not quantifiable.
The root of spirituality is the Latin spiritualis, “pertaining to breath, breathing, wind, or air”. Spirituality is made up of everyday experiences. It’s not so much about the fantastical as it is about illuminating the ordinary.