Portrait of an African American woman with open hands.

Spirituality is a quality of life and mind, as well as a practice to bring on that quality. Spirituality is often about religious experience, and it can also describe what many feel amidst the awe and wonder and power of nature, or when one is completely at ease with oneself and the world. The root word of “spirit” in English comes from a word for breath, so spirit can be seen in a nontheistic sense as what gives us life. Here are some musings on spirituality from a variety of thinkers, writers, and practitioners.

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Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.

— Abraham Joshua Heschel

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.

— Albert Einstein

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.

— Albert Einstein

BATH, n. A kind of mystic ceremony substituted for religious worship, with what spiritual efficacy has not been determined.

— Ambrose Bierce

The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself.

— Anaïs Nin

The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.

— Anaïs Nin

Science has carried us to the gateway to the universe. And yet our conception of our surroundings remains the disproportionate view of the still-small child. We are spiritually and culturally paralyzed, unable to face the vastness, to embrace our lack of centrality and find our actual place in the fabric of nature. We batter this planet as if we had someplace else to go. That we even do science is a hopeful glimmer of mental health. However, it’s not enough merely to accept these insights intellectually while we cling to a spiritual ideology that is not only rootless in nature but also, in many ways, contemptuous of what is natural.

— Ann Druyan

There is an endless net of threads throughout the universe…
At every crossing of the threads there is an individual.
And every individual is a crystal bead.
And every crystal bead reflects
Not only the light from every other crystal in the net
But also every other reflection
Throughout the entire universe.

— Anne Adams, an adaptation of one of the oldest written creations of humanity: “The Net of Jewels, or Indra’s Net”

When people go within and connect with themselves, they realize they are connected to the universe and they are connected to all living things.

— Armand Dimele

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, not to anticipate the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.

— Buddha

At times I feel as if I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, and am myself living in every tree, in the splashing of the waves, in the clouds and the animals that come and go, in the procession of the seasons.

— Carl Jung

The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.

— Carl Sagan

Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.

— Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World

The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.

— Carl Sagan

Self dedication is a spiritual experience.

— Cesar Chavez

It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor.

— Cicero

Simply being with other people who are also seekers and who are involved in the same quest you are is very meaningful.

— Dan Wakefield

Mindfulness is both a state of being and a daily spiritual practice, a form of meditation.

— David Richo

Wherever we may come alive, that is the area in which we are spiritual.

— David Steindl-Rast

Sometimes people get the mistaken notion that spirituality is a separate department of life, the penthouse of existence. But rightly understood, it is a vital awareness that pervades all realms of our being.

— David Steindl-Rast

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.

— Denis Waitley

There is nothing we like to see so much as the gleam of pleasure in a person’s eye when he feels that we have sympathized with him, understood him. At these moments something fine and spiritual passes between two friends. These are the moments worth living.

— Don Marquis

Compassion will no longer be seen as a spiritual luxury for a contemplative few; rather it will be viewed as a social necessity for the entire human family.

— Duane Elgin

An understanding of our own spiritual foundations may be one of the bridges we need to better understanding of the East and its people.

— Eleanor Roosevelt, India and the Awakening East

The more we simplify our material needs the more we are free to think of other things.

— Eleanor Roosevelt

Death is a Dialogue between
The Spirit and the Dust.
‘Dissolve’ says Death—The Spirit ‘Sir
I have another Trust’— Death doubts it—Argues from the Ground—
The Spirit turns away
Just laying off for evidence
An Overcoat of Clay.

— Emily Dickinson

The unique personality which is the real life in me, I can not gain unless I search for the real life, the spiritual quality, in others. I am myself spiritually dead unless I reach out to the fine quality dormant in others. For it is only with the god enthroned in the innermost shrine of the other, that the god hidden in me, will consent to appear.

— Felix Adler

There is a great and crying evil in modern society. It is want of purpose. It is that narrowness of vision which shuts out the wider vistas of the soul. It is the absence of those sublime emotions which, wherever they arise, do not fall to exalt and consecrate existence.

— Felix Adler

Why in this world of ours there should be so much suffering no one knows. But this we know; that, evil existing, the world being such as it is, we can win from evil, if we choose, an inestimable good, namely — the conviction that there is in us a power not of the senses, the conviction that spirit exists, and exists in us.

— Felix Adler

To be a prophet or the lawgiver of a nation is not within your province and mine. For such a task hardly one among millions has the opportunity or the gifts. To be liberators of their country has been accorded in all the ages thus far covered by human history to so small a number of men that one might count them on the fingers of a single hand. Even to be philanthropists on a large scale is the restricted privilege of a very few. But to lead the spiritual life is possible to you and me if we choose to do so. The best is within the reach of all, or it would not be the best. Every one is permitted to share life’s highest good.

— Felix Adler
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