The 4 Genres of Spirituality
In today’s world there seem to be 4 notable genres of spirituality. They all have their place and it is useful to explore these to appreciate how they nourish our personal growth and developing spiritual intelligence. These four approaches are outlined below in brief. Of course, they are not so cut and dried and there are many interwoven links. We talk about these genres, their interconnections and their effect on a growing spiritual world in greater detail during our Heart of Understanding 8 Day LiberatingTouch Class.
Popular spirituality is part of a growing life-affirming genre – It is life loving and joyous, there is almost a feeling that anything goes so long as one is focused on compassion, kindness, positivity, sustainability and being present. This can be a confusing blend of non-dualism and body celebration. For some this approach lacks depth, accountability and does not always allow for the complexity of life’s many experiences. There is an avoidance of discipline and commitment, but there is a huge exploratory element which allows one to venture and discover life outside the confines of certainty. This genre avoids using the word God in describing its affiliation and prefers to use words like, Presence, Grace, Source and similar terminology.
Tradition and Faith
The traditional genre or the route of religion is when one consciously demonstrates love for God or a Higher Power. It is often defined by a set of codified practices or by adopting ancient observations, theology, or philosophy. Some of these approaches have been passed down for generations. The merit in this genre is the emphasis on community, having a value-based life, a life of service. Each tradition has a set of laws that provide the seeker with an ethical life-honouring framework to build upon. The issue with this genre is that over centuries prejudice and misappropriation has tainted some of the original teachings. Much has been lost in translation, yet the essence of these traditions continues to be beacons of light and wisdom for many.
This inquiry based spiritual path shows itself in the growing cognitive therapeutic approaches. This genre veers away from devotion. Its focus is understanding, knowledge, mindfulness and self-awareness. Here the seeker actively engages in deconstructing what they believe about themselves, the world they inhabit, so that they can discover the Truth about themselves. It uses catch phrases like oneness, existence, non-existence, and absolute. Its non-dualistic approach although deeply compassionate and meditative is fairly cerebral and does not always allow for the physical, emotional or the more “chaotic” expressions of the spiritual seeker for example, the tears of yearning.
Integrative and Intuitive
Integrative spirituality relies on the seekers intuitive wisdom, the ability to explore, study, experience and intuit how to build a direct relationship with God. It is the uncertain route, lacking the support of tradition, the feel good of the popular or the clarity of knowledge. This genre requires one to delve into all areas of spirituality, philosophy, life, to explore Truth from an internal, intuitive perspective and because it does not have the certainty of external recognition it can be an unsettling path. Here Love is the path and Truth is the destination. This path demands the cultivation of patience (willingness to listen, devotion, tolerance and constant integrated awareness) and purity (inquiry, discernment, disciplined rigorous self-responsibility). Without these the seeker experiences confusion and conflict.
Although these 4 genres demonstrate differences in their expression and methodology, they all share the recognition and reverence of Divinity; they all have at their core a compassionate heart. This unites them in Love and eventually the seeker whatever the path returns to Truth.