Portal:Spirituality

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Spirituality

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

Traditionally, spirituality referred to a religious process of re-formation which "aims to recover the original shape of man", oriented at "the image of God" 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 and broadened during late medieval times to include mental aspects of life.

In modern times, the term both spread to other religious traditions 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 and the "deepest values and meanings by which people live", often in a context separate from organized religious institutions, such as a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm, personal growth, a quest for an ultimate or sacred meaning, religious experience, or an encounter with one's own "inner dimension".

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Neoplatonism (also called Neo-Platonism), is the modern (19th century) term for a school of mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas. Neoplatonism focused on the spiritual and cosmological aspects of Platonic thought, synthesizing Platonism with Egyptian and Jewish theology. However, Neoplatonists would have considered themselves simply Platonists, and the modern distinction is due to the perception that their philosophy contained sufficiently unique interpretations of Plato to make it substantially different from what Plato wrote and believed.

The Neoplatonism of Plotinus and Porphyry has been referred to as in fact being orthodox Platonic philosophy by scholars like John D. Turner. This distinction provides a contrast with later movements of Neoplatonism, such as those of Iamblichus and Proclus, which embraced magical practices or theurgy as part of the soul's development in the process of the soul's return to the Source. Possibly Plotinus was motivated to clarify some of the traditions in the teachings of Plato that had been misrepresented before Iamblichus (see Neoplatonism and Gnosticism).

Neoplatonism took definitive shape with the philosopher Plotinus, who claimed to have received his teachings from Ammonius Saccas, a philosopher in Alexandria. Plotinus was also influenced by Alexander of Aphrodisias and Numenius of Apamea. Plotinus's student Porphyry assembled his teachings into the six sets of nine tractates, or Enneads. Subsequent Neoplatonic philosophers included Iamblichus, Hypatia of Alexandria, Hierocles of Alexandria, Proclus (by far the most influential of later Neoplatonists), Damascius (last head of Neoplatonist School at Athens), Olympiodorus the Younger, and Simplicius of Cilicia.

Thinkers from the Neoplatonic school cross-pollinated with the thinkers of other intellectual schools. For instance, certain strands of Neoplatonism influenced Christian thinkers (such as Augustine, Boethius, John Scotus Eriugena, and Bonaventure), while Christian thought influenced (and sometimes converted) Neoplatonic philosophers (such as Dionysius the Areopagite).

In the Middle Ages, Neoplatonic arguments were taken seriously in the thought of medieval Islamic and Jewish thinkers such as al-Farabi and Moses Maimonides, and experienced a revival in the Renaissance with the acquisition and translation of Greek and Arabic Neoplatonic texts. Well-known Christian mystics influenced by neoplatonism are Meister Eckhart and Johannes Tauler.

Glossary

  • Bhakti: Devotion towards Supreme Personality of Godhead (Krishna, Chaitanya and other Vishnu avataras) by Spiritual and Religious Practices
  • Revivalism: A revival is the apparent restoration of a living creature from a dead state to a living state. In a New Testament story, Lazarus was revived by divine intervention. In religious terms, Revival is the substitution of religious fervor in life and worship, for an intellectualized, pragmatic approach to everyday conduct (often stigmatized by revivalists as 'pride').
  • Spirit: The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning breath...
  • Yoga: (Sanskrit योग, "union" of soul with SuperSoul, God) is any of authentic practices of a family of spiritual practices that originated in India, which includes meditation (dhyana), which is seen primarily as a means to enlightenment, samadhi (or bodhi)...
  • Channelling: The act of having spirits enter or possess one's body in order to speak and act through one as practised in many cultures and religions.

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A portrayal of Vyasa, who classified the Vedas in to four parts, and author of the Mahabharata, which includes the widely read Bhagavad Gita.

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  • In Hinduism and its spiritual systems of yoga and in some related eastern cultures, as well as in some segments of the New Age Movement – and to some degree the distinctly different New Thought movement – a chakra is thought to be an energy node ("wheel") in the etheric body or energy duplicate of the human physical body.

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