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Prof. Pavel Rican


Spirituality as a key to education

In psychology, spirituality is understood as a precious, peculiar value and its study may be considered a legitimate part of positive psychology. Psychologically defined concept of spirituality has its origin in the protest of the American hippies of the Golden Sixties, who expressed their disappointment by the church religion of their time. This protest was one of the manifestations of a deep transformation of the whole socio-cultural atmosphere of the West. A characteristic motto was: I AM NOT RELIGIOUS BUT I AM SPIRITUAL. A polarization occurred between the concepts spirituality and religion. Religion became understood as something out of date, rigid, binding, as teaching, institution and morality – in contrast to spirituality, which appears as something new, spontaneous, free, as individual experience, cosmic insights, blissful ecstasy. Pargament proposed a rational solution – to leave to the concept of spirituality its original content, and to conceive spirituality as the experiential core of religion. He met, however, an ideologically motivated opposition. David Elkins’ formulation of the humanistic spirituality expresses the mainstream tradition of the values of the West. As Halík points out, other authors accentuate Oriental inspiration, and also a revival of idealized paganism may be observed. 
In the contemporary multicultural Europe, many religious as well as non-religious groups try to offer spirituality. One of the key practical issues is how to convey this supreme value to children from the earliest age on, especially by means of the family spiritual education. One of the basic components of spiritual education is the ethical/moral education with the aim that the ideal of the Good, well expressed for example in the Scout promise may become a central motive of the young girl/boy, experienced with pleasure. Another component, or carrier, of spiritual education is cultural education. Its goal is that children’s sense of music gradually deepens and grows more and more delicate, up to the ability to feel that something sacred is being revealed; to feel that the concert hall may become a cathedral, similarly as the art exhibition hall or the theater cultivating the sense of catharsis. Also, philosophical education begins from early childhood, when we teach children to take pleasure from the insight that things may be quite different than they seem at the first glance, when we lead them to respect the mystery, etc.