A Vision for the Farther Reaches of Spirituality: A Phenomenologically Based Model of Spiritual Development and Growth

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We present a phenomenologically based model of spiritual development and growth. The model heuristically suggests three “spatial” facets—(a) deep within, (b) up and beyond, and (c) sideways and interconnected—assuming them to be related and yet distinct realms of spiritual development. The model further underscores the importance of alignment and harmony among the three facets of development, as well as the centrality of expressing spirituality in one’s way of living and the importance of sustaining an intrinsic and intentional mindset. The model further notes that the developmental process is nonlinear and endless in nature, involves both conscious decisions and less conscious intentional actions, and might be better described as a process of “becoming.” This developmental process is assumed to contribute to the development of inner personal wholeness, which is a quality not fully achievable. Such wholeness involves a sense of inner peace, integrity, and harmony; closeness to one’s authentic self; a sense of “being held”; gratitude; a compassionate and caring stance; and a sense of meaning and purpose in life. We conclude by presenting a vision that inner and personal wholeness may lead to outer wholeness, among individuals and among social groups. Three facilitating aspects are suggested to create such a bridge between inner wholeness and outer wholeness: (a) values of respect, caring, and service; (b) a less exclusive circle of care; and (c) humility and pluralistic spirituality.

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