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HANDOUT 1: What is Spirituality?

Reprinted with permission from "What Does Spirituality Mean? Young People Speak Out" by Search Institute (R). Copyright (C) 2006-2009 Search Institute (R), Minneapolis, MN; www.search-institute.org. All Rights Reserved.

What does spirituality mean?

Youth from around the world answer this question:

  • "I think spirituality is important to everyone. Maybe there's a section of people that doesn't realize they are following that path, but they are spiritual. And I think everyone has that kind of adaptability in themselves to go into that kind of path to being spiritual. Maybe the word 'spiritual' is more important in some people's lives, but the whole definition and the concept I think it's there in everyone." (Female, India)
  • "Spiritual is how you feel inside, every emotion you express, everything you feel comes from inside, your spirit. Your feelings, your emotions, all comes from inside." (Male, Israel)
  • "You can be spiritual and not religious. You can believe there is a soul, a spirit, an essence within a person and yet not believe in God." (Female, 13, Peru)
  • "If you are not spiritual, then you don't ever struggle with things, you don't make a choice or ask, 'why did this happen to me?' If you are not spiritual, you will never learn anything ... [Spirituality] goes together with wisdom ... you have to reflect on what's happening to you." (Male, 18, South Africa)
  • "You can be religious by coming to Jamat Khana [mosque] and doing your duty, but to be spiritual means that when you actually do your duty, you interact with Allah." (Female, 15, England)
  • "Being spiritual is believing in things that are not real, intangible, that cannot be perceived by our senses, but that you know exist." (Male, 14, Peru)
  • "I feel spiritual when I'm attuned to what matters ... noticing little things... like, a sense of perspective." (Female, 17, U.S.A.)
  • "When the person grows up, his spirituality grows with him, particularly when he starts to use his intellect more." (Female, Syria)
  • "Spiritual is something one experiences in your own being, religion is, well, your religion. The most of our religion is forced — the do's and don't — being spiritual means standing on a mountain with the wind blowing through your hair, and the feeling of being free."(Female, 15, South Africa)
  • "'Religious' is kind of knowing the things in your head, but 'spiritual' is knowing them in your heart." (Female, 15, Australia)
  • "You don't have to be religious to be spiritual, but you have to be spiritual to be religious. If you're fully religious, you've got to be spiritual." (Male, 15, Canada)

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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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