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Spiritual Study appreciates critical thinking: we like to consider multiple and opposing perspectives. Some people think that criticism is an obstacle to the spontaneity that is typical of spirituality. Well, this is already a good criticism! Criticism does not come just from reasoning, reflecting, analyzing; a lot of important criticism comes exactly from claiming the importance of experience, emotions, body, feelings, spontaneity. Here we love to take into consideration this kind of criticism, as well as any other kind of criticism and different perspectives. This thorough management of criticism makes Spiritual Study a place that offers the highest quality spirituality.

Spiritual Study means primarily study and experience of spirituality as such, that is, in the most general perspective that embraces all together all kinds of spirituality, especially including secular, artistic, atheistic, agnostic, skeptic, materialistic and “spiritual but not religious” spiritualities; secondarily, we consider, in detail and specifically, the perspective of any particular spirituality as well. You can find an in depth study of the definition of spirituality in the academic article What is spirituality?

Spiritual Study is study of spirituality involving not only our mind and intelligence, but our whole life, emotions, body, experiences: it is cultivation of a spiritual experience, indirect connections, awareness of our self, art of living and building a lifestyle. This website is an instrument to make a spiritual experience existing and shared. It is aimed to be, as much as possible, the highest quality comprehensive portal to spirituality. You can use any part of it, and especially the course, as a ready instrument to practice meditation, nourishment, the pleasure of practicing the art of Spiritual Study. It is an instrument to cultivate and listen to the memory of spirituality carrying out its history in conjunction with the history of the world and our personal history.

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The logo

The logo of the website is a piano with a score, meaning that we interpret and play life like a musician interprets and plays a music score. We can think of those who play a pipe organ in a monastery, often in a soft, dark light, that reminds us the secret space of the soul where our inner experiences happen. We can also imagine “spirituality playing us”, that is, inspiring us, our life, decisions and creativity, the same way the organ player is, in a sense, played by the music they are playing. You can see in this video an example of this idea:

Angelo Cannata ORCID logo (Modica, 19 February 1964) is a researcher in spirituality and a biblical scholar. He is keen on Gianni Vattimo’s “weak thought”, postmodernism and relativism. In 1991 he got a degree in Biblical Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University and was ordained a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. For several years he taught the Bible in theology schools and managed some parishes. In 2013 he published the book Walking, available for free in this website; it is an introduction to philosophy, aimed to highlight a non-metaphysical perspective, and a guide to build a personal life path. The same year he left priesthood and became a non-believer (which is different from atheist). These choices have been determined by an increasingly clear perception of incompatibility between anti-metaphysics and the dogmatism of the Church, as well as critical thinking and the problem of theodicy. He thinks that faith in a God who is by definition good and omnipotent cannot coexist with an alive memory of his absence in front of evil in the world.

Hello, everybody, this video is an introduction to the website “Spiritual Study”. So, I welcome all of you who are interested in spirituality.

Talking of spirituality, we might wonder what is it, because there are a lot of different perceptions, a lot of different ideas about this. I’m trying to give you a first idea or, because since it’s just so a rich and wide aspect of our life, the whole website, the whole experience is aimed to give a good idea. So, this is just a first approach and I decided to add videos to the website to try to make it more human, a bit deeper, because, since it is spirituality, spirituality is the whole of our life, so, as much as possible I would like to introduce in our experience what is more and more human, especially about our relationship in exchanging messages, having a conversation, interacting each other.

To have an idea about what spirituality is, we can compare it to the counseling. All over the world this is something that is going to be experienced, like even philosophical counseling. What can be the difference between counseling and spirituality? The difference is that counseling is especially for help. Spirituality includes help, includes being compassionate, loving and so on, trying to do our best, but spirituality is not limited to help, because we can practice spirituality even when we don’t need any help, we are okay, we are fine, we are just enjoying life and this is something that deserves deepening and practicing spirituality, so, this is the difference: spirituality is not just when you have problems. Spirituality is essentially because we are human livings, human beings and we appreciate, we like, to deepen, to see what we are experiencing inside ourselves.

Another idea to make clear what spirituality is comparing it with philosophy, especially because the studies of Pierre Hadot have shown us that philosophy was born as a spiritual experience in the ancient Greece. Later it became more rationality, more logic, but in the beginning it was meant like an experience involving the whole of our life. Now, in our present, in our epoch, since philosophy seems to have some problems, people are not so much interested in it because they feel it like far from life, far from the experienced life of every day. This way spirituality is something philosophical, because it is trying to deepen, to understand to be close to ourselves, but it gives less importance to just rationality, just reflecting and trying to understand, because spirituality is not just trying to understand. Spirituality is mainly experience, although experience needs to be helped by understanding, in order to be experienced at its best.

Talking about spirituality, there is an obvious thing that comes out, it is that the common perception of spirituality, spread all over the world, I can think about the mass people, is unfortunately something normally connected with belief in supernatural things, like spirits, angels, energies, mysterious forces and also some views that are not so critical, like “let’s love all each other, let’s enjoy peace of nature”, but we should have also a critical perspective both in nature, in ourselves, in everything. So, if you look on Google, for example, for spirituality, you will find a lot of people talking about angels, awakening, like another world that you can experiment. This is the mass perception of spirituality, while in its beginning, in its origins, spirituality was something, I would say, more serious, deeper, and especially more connected with criticism. I already referred to its beginning as an experience in the philosophical world of ancient Greece, but actually the word “spirituality” comes from the context of Christianity. We need to make a difference between the experience of spirituality and the word “spirituality”. We can find experience of spirituality in all epochs, ages of history, but the specific word “spirituality”, coming from the Latin, it was born in the context of Christianity, that is life connected to the Holy Spirit. So, now we are taking this word and applying it to the wider context of humanity, because now even atheists, even skeptics, agnostics, are realizing that they are able to cultivate a spiritual experience, without needing to believe in anything. So, spirituality actually, the way how I want to cultivate it, and the way how it did in the most serious sense mean, is open to anybody, it doesn’t matter if you are a believer or a non-believer, if you are a Muslim or a Christian or an atheist, anybody can cultivate spirituality and i want to cultivate it in this website in this perspective. It’s like a challenge, that is, being able to welcome everybody, trying to avoid as much as possible conflict, polemics and so on, while dialoguing, is possible because diversity, rather than a reason for conflict, can be rather a positive chance for conversation, for enriching each other. So: something independent from beliefs or not beliefs.

I called the website “Spiritual Study” because I want to mean something engaging, something where we do our best, but it’s not just studying like when you study a book and you want to learn. It’s study made with our life. So, it’s not just an intellectual activity, but experiencing. When I say “just experiencing”, I know that this is a fascinating expression, “experience”, but unfortunately a lot of people, when they think of experience they forget critical sense, criticizing, so, we can experience a lot of things, but a lot of experiences are just shallow, or even false or deceiving. For this reason I think, it’s not just my opinion, that spirituality must be strictly connected with philosophy and its critical mind, because critical mind can help us a lot to make spirituality something really deep and really serious.

Another concept, I’ve used already this word, is enriching: why should we cultivate spirituality? I cultivate it because it enriches my life. How? It enriches my life by building connections, connections with other people, connections between concepts and experiences, connection with philosophy and with criticism. By connecting all of these things, and obviously it’s a lot, so it needs a lot of work, but it’s a work that really gives enriching, enrichment, to our life, so I see that it deserves to be cultivated and practiced.

Last note. When we talk about spirituality we know that a lot of things can’t be expressed. They are beyond what can be said by words, and it’s true, but, shall we just keep without saying anything, keep without using words, just because words are so limited. I admit: it’s a problem, but we will try to use words in our best ability and we can sometimes challenge words or use tricks, like double sense, trying to invite people to go beyond our words. So, words are just an instrument, but it’s a wonderful instrument to cultivate spirituality, to understand not only each other, but also for me, to understand myself, because I see that when I express things by words, although words limit everything, it’s an instrument to deepen the understanding and the experience. So, I hope that everything will be enthusiastic to discover this entire world of spirituality, that I would define at best in this expression: “inner life”, that includes a lot of things. So, welcome and hoping that everything will give a lot of fruits in our life. See you in our activities.