Nurturing the inner world
Among the major cultural changes that are taking place in contemporary societies is an unexpected phenomenon: the emergence of a new spirituality, often detached from any moral or religious dogma. New spiritualties are developing thanks to wellness and health. But this need has also led to an industry of emotional comfort and self-help. Extricating spirituality from its commodification is the huge challenge.
Among the major cultural changes that are taking place in contemporary societies is an unexpected phenomenon: the emergence of a new spirituality, often detached from any moral or religious dogma, which is expressed in an open and plural manner with different philosophical narratives. Religions have seen a decline, but not spirituality. The crisis of the idea of God and secularisation have not waned, as the French philosopher André Comte-Sponville underlined, the need for communion that humans have, the desire for deep connection with a source of meaning that binds everything together.
In response to this need, various ways of exploring the inner world have emerged, giving meaning to life and relating to the idea of transcendence. Eastern religions, much more focused on meditation and emotional balance, have borne an enormous influence on the emergence of new spiritualties in the West. There have also been changes within the major traditional denominations. Alongside new backward and aggressive fundamentalisms, currents have emerged that do not emphasise the institutional and dogmatic aspects, but the humanistic and spiritual legacy of their religions.
Meanwhile, the crisis of the welfare state; the generalisation of increasingly precarious living and working conditions; the emergence of new global threats, such as terrorism, the climate crisis or pandemics; the culture of competitiveness, and consumerist individualism have generated a great sense of fragility. The growing medicalisation of life and the use of psychotropic drugs is still an unsatisfactory response, beset with adverse effects, to the perception of vulnerability and the outcomes for health of a production and social model that generates anxiety and malaise. The pursuit of inner well-being becomes a necessity, and that is why new spiritualties are developing thanks to wellness and health. But this need has also led to an industry of emotional comfort and self-help, often wrapped in esoteric components, that makes the exploitation of malaise a big business. Extricating spirituality from the trend towards commodification is the huge challenge.
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