- Written by one of the most eminent scholars and writers on spirituality
- Looks at the impact of spirituality on religion and philosophy, but also on anthropology and psychology
- Considers the historical foundations of spirituality in the major world religions
- Explores the concept of the spiritual experience and considers the impact and transformation it has on society
- Part of the bestselling Very Short Introductions series - over five million copies sold worldwide
It has been suggested that spirituality has become a word that can define an era. Why? Because paradoxically, alongside a decline in traditional religious affiliations, the growing interest in spirituality and the use of the word in a variety of contexts is a striking aspect of contemporary western cultures. Indeed, spirituality is sometimes contrasted attractively with religion, although this is problematic and implies that religion is essentially dogma, moralism, institutions, buildings, and hierarchies.
The notion of spirituality expresses the fact that many people are driven by goals that concern more than material satisfaction. Broadly, it refers to the deepest values and sense of meaning by which people seek to live. Sometimes these values are conventionally religious. Sometimes they are associated with what is understood as the sacred in a broader sense - that is, of ultimate rather than merely instrumental importance. This Very Short Introduction, written by one of the most eminent scholars and writers on spirituality, explores the historical foundations of the thought and considers how it came to have the significance it is developing today.
Professor Philip Sheldrake is currently Senior Research Fellow in the Cambridge Theological Federation (Westcott House), Honorary Professor of the University of Wales, and a regular visiting professor in the United States. He is also a member of the Guerrand-Hermès Forum for the Interreligious Study of Spirituality. Philip Sheldrake co-founded and directed (1984-94) the Institute of Spirituality, Heythrop College University of London. He is on the editorial boards of three international academic journals. For the last twenty five years he has been a leading figure in the field of spirituality as an interdisciplinary area of study.