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The Forum > Article Comments > Do-it-yourself spirituality > Comments

Do-it-yourself spirituality : Comments

By Rosemary Aird, published 29/4/2008

Spirituality is a burgeoning industry, but is it good for mental health?

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I have no doubt Rosemary's research is correct.

Those who engage in navel gazing or search for meaning generally do so because they are unhappy with the lack of meaning or sanity in their life and are genuinely trying to find their way out of it. Their search is naturally driven be a general unhappiness.

By contrast, most people locked into a mainstream religious brand are there because they were born into it or because such religions offer quick-fix, spoonfed solutions, thus negating the need to search any further. Faith is the key word.

Faith: "That which allows us to believe what we know to be untrue".

Cynical perhaps, but I have no doubt religious faith is a source of comfort and - to quote the author - "has also played a crucial role in promoting notions like empathy, compassion, forgiveness, and social justice". As do nearly all spiritual enterprises.

Perhaps more so, they have played a crucial role in world division, bigotry and bloodshed. I say perhaps because nobody has the research capability to quantify the positives and set them against the negatives and come up with a definitive answer. As much as they may try.

Many spiritual seekers are, no doubt, in a state of anguish, but at least they are searching. My hope is that they will land on answers that are expansive rather than reductionist. Ones that celebrate the immense diversity of world views rather than succumb to 'this is the one and only'.

There is nothing wrong with fixing on a world view, so long as that fixation comes with an understanding that it is only as legitimate as is our own very limited experience. As soon as our world view becomes a prompt for intolerance towards others, then we have taken a dangerous step backwards.
Posted by gecko, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 9:56:35 AM
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Steeeerike 1

<<The findings also suggest that alternative spiritual belief systems require more attention if their potential link to poorer mental and social wellbeing is to effectively explored.>>

Steeeerike 2
<<Spirituality is a burgeoning "INDUSTRY".>>

Steeerike 3
<<The findings from this research showed that young adults who believe in a spiritual or higher power other than God had higher rates of problems in the three domains of mental health examined.>>


Now we know.. fake religion.. pseudo religion.. false religion.. has ill effects on mental health by measurable points.

So, why not simply turn away from sin, come back to the living God, revealed in Jesus of Nazareth, and receive the Holy Spirit and enjoy the fruit thereof?

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Self control etc etc.

Be reconciled.. made 'at one' "Atonement" be fixed up.. repaired.. renewed.. revived, rejuvinated.

Seek Him, and you will find Him, if you search for Him with all your heart.

Repent... (from sin) Believe in Christ Jesus( His teaching, sacfificial death and resurrection)


-it won't make you rich,(but you will be richer than you ever imagined)
-it won't get you a 'hot girlfriend', (but you will find the deepest love you can imagine between man and woman)
-it won't pay your bills, (but it will set you free from many things which prevent you paying them)
-and best of all, as Jesus said: "I go to prepare a place for you... that where I am, you may be also"

"I am the resurrection and the Life, he who believes in me, will live, even though he dies".(Jesus)
Posted by BOAZ_David, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 11:34:51 AM
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I was about to say roughly the same thing, Gecko. The author said:-

"Treating religiousness and spirituality as the same thing is to ignore fundamental differences in the worldviews of those who maintain beliefs tied to religious teachings and those who embrace alternative forms of spirituality."

As you pointed out, this would be like apples and orange: a comparison between those who "maintain" religious beliefs needs to be sub-categorised into those who have never questioned and those who have questioned and found the answers - in each case however, one would assume such persons to have either solved, or shelved questions of self. On the other hand those who "embrace" alternative forms of spirituality are, of necessity, those who are looking for answer and therefore would naturally present as having problems with the basic issue of self.

It is therefore hardly surprising that the second group would present as more prone to mental illness.

I realise that a short article such as this could hardly include all the complexities contained within this writer's PhD. But I would be extremely curious to know more about the parameters in which the definition of the word "spirituality" is framed in this context?
Posted by Romany, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 11:37:15 AM
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I had similar thoughts and reactions to reading this one, Romany & Gecko; one thought was that the very use of words like 'higher power' lends itself to forms of spirituality linked to 12-step movements - by definition, people who are seekers/searchers, struggling with addiction and mental health, so one might expect higher self-reported levels of anxiety etc as Rosemary's research found. My personal experience too is that growing up in formal religious institutions (church in my case) provides a firm (rigid?) moral framework that doesn't require much self-searching and questioning, at least in the early stages, so might obviously be linked to increased pro-social behaviours, as they are described and advocated by the particular religion/institution. I'd add to Gecko's point about faith from a slightly different perspective, that the genuine 'faith journey' requires acceptance of ambiguity and not knowing, but 'faith' as it is espoused in many religious institutions is as you described it Gecko, an abandonment of thinking and 'the search' to the spoon-fed, simplistic answers.

This makes me think of various psychological theories and models of moral development, and makes me wonder about whether the religion model represents one platform for exploration of a more nuanced, sophisticated moral/ethical approach to life. M Scott Peck wrote about this too, and suggested that it was necessary at some point to work from a rules-based morality before challenging it, even abandoning it for a time, and later perhaps returning to a similar belief system or spirituality free from the 'rules' element, or a completely different framework (the 'mystic' as a recall him writing about it).
Posted by Timbo, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 12:19:28 PM
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Interesting findings which further supports evidence that faith in God is good for mental well being. Many are searching for the truth and in this process go down different routes to explore what suits them. When a person finds meaning for their existence then it is as if the blocks in the puzzle finally fit in. For me it was when I experienced the power of God's love through Jesus Christ. I cannot see how a person can go on living without a purpose and meaning for his/her life. It is this meaning and purpose that provides the health generating energy to cope with all that life throws at us through the various challenges.

For those who are interested you can read more about my journey through my book at
Posted by jeshua, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 3:18:29 PM
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The USA is supposedly the most "religious" country on the planet, or so the hype tells us.

If this were really true then the USA would be a completely different country, a country of relative peacableness where the traditional religious virtues sharing and cooperation would be an integral part of the common lived practice, and the general aspiration.

Instead there is a widespread "culture" of guns--often stridently boosted by groups that call themselves "religious". Thousands of gated "communities". Very high rates of mental illness. An example being the tens of millions who subscribe to the TOXIC "world"-view promted by the Left Behind books. It has the highest prison population per capita in the world. One of the worlds highest murder rates. It still engages the barbaric practice of capital punishment. It is the largest arms merchant (and user) in the world. It has a humungously huge pornography industry. A humungously huge level of violence against women altogether. A consistently high level of teenage pregnancies. It is saturated with drugs both legal and illegal. Its mainstream media is saturated with lies, with those on the "religious" right lead the pack in telling porkies. It is "ruled" by a bunch of lying psycho-paths who have systematically gutted what was still left of a common civic culture, with Fox so called "news" setting the standard---of depravity.

Some years ago Murdoch who is Fox's owner, was made a "Knight" of the "catholic" church for services (and supposedly inspiration) provided.
Here in OZ Murdoch uses the OZ "news"-paper to push "catholic" values.
If you want to find out the truth about anything dont relie on the OZ.

To be fair the OZ dose sometimes feature some excellent stuff which is soon over-whelmed by the wall of partisan propaganda, half truths and downright lies.
Posted by Ho Hum, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 5:26:32 PM
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