Marian De Souza

A Concept of Human Spirituality (excerpt)

(…) in the contemporary world, parents, educators and other professionals who work with young people need to introduce children and young people to spiritual practices that have been inspired by the wisdom, teachings and philosophies from different belief systems across both the Eastern and Western worlds so as to give them the knowledge and skills to access their inner lives to gain self-knowledge. As well, they need to learn how to balance their thinking, reflection and action between their inner and outer selves in their quest to live meaningful and purposeful lives.

In the end, all of us are somewhere on a relational continuum. The further along we are, the more chance we have of becoming empathetic, compassionate creatures, unafraid of the otherness of Other. It is important to recognize that engagement with Other is essential if we are to move on from mere tolerance to acceptance and inclusion; these elements are absolutely necessary in a contemporary world that is, at once, pluralistic and globalized so that religious and cultural diversity are particular characteristics. We also live in a world besieged by technology and social networks today which encourage a kind of ‘distant connectedness’ which, I suggest, actually tends to erode human spirituality in terms of the connectedness that is promoted through close relationships where the individual is able to respond to another through physical and visual

Given these aspects of contemporary living, it is not surprising that the role of spirituality in education, counselling and health needs to be identified and addressed. More importantly, this needs to happen at all levels in society from policy writers, government funding bodies to practitioners who are dealing with issues related to disconnection such as alienation, health problems and undesirable social behaviour. Some of these factors are generated by disenfranchisement and disillusion that some young people experience and may result in further experiences of fragmentation, unhappiness, discontent, prejudice and racism, envy, feelings of loss and being lost, anxiety, fear, guilt, boredom and apathy. Professionals who work with children and young people need to find ways to address these negative tendencies.

Children need to develop practices that help them focus on their inner lives and to balance the desires and needs of their outer lives which will help to promote acceptance of self and other and of developing a sense of identity and a place within their communities. These practices will nurture their spirituality and assist them to find meaning and purpose in their everyday which, in time will enhance and promote social cohesiveness and wellbeing in their communities.