Spiritual Formation

Spiritual formation is the process by which people use various "disciplines" designed to make them feel closer to God and to have a greater sense of inner peace.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

In Christian Spiritual Formation the focus is on Jesus.

Practice of spiritual disciplines

  • prayer
  • the study of scripture
  • fasting
  • simplicity
  • solitude
  • confession
  • worship
  • submission
  • service
  • others

Writers (listed by Wikipedia + some added, sorted by year of birth)

New Age inspirators

Disciplines to "The Silence", "God in everything", "Oneness", etc.

Religious ecstasy




Spirituality Today is a quarterly journal of spirituality in the Dominican tradition published by the Chicago Dominican province. This is a part of Vol. 43 1991, No. 2 http://www.spiritualitytoday.org/spir2day/91432teasdale.html: Wayne Teasdale:
Interreligious Dialogue Since Vatican II
The Monastic Contemplative Dimension
PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE Interreligious dialogue has really two aspects: (1) the faith level and the revelatory experience that grounds it, something which in many cases is a form of mysticism, and (2) the practical level of the concerns we all have in common. I think it is critically important for the religions to relate to one another through their common responsibility to guide the world in the direction of transformation. Some possible projects to which the various religions might commitment themselves are:
  1. Intermonastic communities sharing life in depth. We have already had some indication of the benefits to be derived here.
  2. An International Council of Religions. The need for such an organization should be obvious, since the religions have to find a way to consult on a regular basis and to speak with one voice in world affairs, thus becoming a positive moral force and having a modifying influence on governments.
  3. The religions should move towards signing and promulgating the "Universal Declaration on Non-Violence." The "Universal Declaration on Non-Violence" was formulated and endorsed by the North American Board for East-West Dialogue, a monastic organization dedicated to interreligious understanding, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama in October 1990. This could become part of the foundation of a new vision of global society and culture. The Universal Declaration could be an essential principle in promoting a worldwide or universal understanding of society and its relation to the natural environment. The ideals of non-violence and gentleness are indispensable to this possibility of a new civilization rooted in love and compassion, a civilization that places the ultimate emphasis on the values of spiritual transformation. The following is the actual text of the Declaration:
    This document is an attempt to set forth a vision of nonviolence within the context of an emerging global civilization in which all forms of violence, especially war, are totally unacceptable as means to settle disputes between and among nations, groups, and persons. This new vision of civilization is global in scope, universal in culture, and based on love and compassion, the highest moral and spiritual principles of the various historical religions. Its universal nature acknowledges the essential fact of modern life: the interdependence of nations, economies, cultures, and religious traditions.

    As members of religious groups throughout the world, we are increasingly aware of our responsibility to promote peace in our age and in the ages to come. Nevertheless, we recognize that in the history of the human family people of various religions, acting officially in the name of their respective traditions, have either initiated or collaborated in organized and systematic violence or war. These actions have at times been directed against other religious traditions, groups and nations, as well as within particular religious traditions. This pattern of behavior is totally inappropriate for spiritual persons and communities. Therefore, as members of world religions, we declare before the human family, that:

    Religion can no longer be an accomplice to war, to terrorism, or to any other forms of violence, organized or spontaneous, against any member of the human family. Because this family is one, global, and interrelated, our actions must be consistent with this identity. We recognize the right and duty of governments to defend the security of their people and to relieve those afflicted by exploitation and persecution. Nevertheless, we declare that religion must not permit itself to be used by any state, group, or organization for the purpose of supporting aggression for nationalistic gain. We have an obligation to promote a new vision of society, one in which war has no place in resolving disputes between and among states, organizations, and religions.

    In making this declaration, we the signatories commit ourselves to this new vision. We call upon all the members of our respective traditions to embrace this vision. We urge our members and all peoples to use every moral means to dissuade their governments from promoting war or terrorism. We strongly encourage the United Nations Organization to employ all available resources toward the development of peaceful methods of resolving conflicts among nations.

    Our declaration is meant to promote such a new global society, one in which non-violence is pre-eminent as a value in all human relations. We offer this vision of peace, mindful of the words of Pope Paul VI to the United Nations in November 1965: "No more war; war never again!"

    Since this was conceived as an on-going document, much like the "Universal Declaration on the Rights of Man" of the United Nations, it is not necessary to obtain the endorsement of all the religious traditions at the outset, though certainly that is desirable. It is assumed that as time goes on, religious bodies, groups and persons will want to sign it when they have achieved a certain awareness of its necessity and value. What the Declaration attempts to do is to draw attention to a fundamental element of a new global order, society and culture.

    It is crucial to keep in mind that this is not just another peace statement among others, nor a pacifist manifesto. Indeed, the document cannot be regarded or properly understood in isolation from its context: a new vision of civilization in which organized force is no longer tolerated. It is actually only if we can dream of such a world, such a vision for the generations yet to come, that it can and will become a reality, rather than just another failed utopian project.

    The interdependence of economies, cultures and religions, fortified by the technological advance of instantaneous communication, and the inherent dynamism of evolving societies as social organisms in the matrix of world history itself make this particular dream a genuine possibility, a possibility simply waiting to be actualized by our own collective and coordinated efforts.

    The Universal Declaration constitutes a creative leap into the future and is a conscious effort at civilization building. The Declaration tries to express what is one of the most authentic desires of us all: a permanent situation of global peace. This need, this longing of humankind, becomes all the more urgent in light of the horrific destruction and cost in human and ecological terms of the Persian Gulf War that has mercifully come to an end.

    Nor is this document the end of the process; it is really just the beginning because such a new global culture will not only be predicated on non-violence and so on peace, it will also have the values of love, compassion, kindness and sharing, at the center of its self-understanding -- a self-understanding giving expression to a more ultimate notion of justice grounded in charity and real concern. This new civilization, furthermore, would be firmly established on a profound sense of the sacredness of nature with all its wonderful diversity of life-forms, and a permanent, unwavering commitment to ecological justice.

  4. Finally, the religious traditions can lead the world to an acceptance of a universal responsibility for the planet in all its areas of need: peace, justice, human rights, animal and natural rights, ecological justice and wisdom, a more equal distribution of the earth's goods, a genuine respect for pluralism, and the essential need for transcendence or the development of our capacity for the Divine, which is actually a capacity for an all-inclusive love.

  • Inner Explorations was founded by James and Tyra Arraj, as an organic result of their own attempts to discover the riches of their Catholic faith, and to integrate them with the treasures they had found in Jung's psychology, in the practice of Zen meditation, and in attempts to live a simpler life closer to nature. INNER EXPLORATIONS- Where Christian mysticism, theology and metaphysics meet Eastern religions, Jungian psychology and a new sense of the earth. More than 500 web pages, 2,500 pages of text, and 1,000 images.
  • Dallas Willard in The Great Omission, 2006; http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=36

Most of the activities commonly identified as "religious" activities can be a part of the process of spiritual formation, and should be.

  • Public and private worship,
  • study of scripture, nature, and God's acts in human history,
  • prayer,
  • giving to godly causes,
  • service to others,

can all be highly effectie elements in spiritual formation. But they must be thoughtfully and resolutely approached for that purpose, or they will have little or no effect in promoting it.

Other less commonly practiced activities such as

  • fasting,
  • solitude,
  • silence,
  • listening prayer,
  • scripture memorization,
  • frugal living,
  • confession,
  • journaling,
  • submission to the will of others as appropriate,
  • and well-used spiritual direction

are in fact more foundational for spiritual formation in Christlikeness than the more well known religious practices, and are essential for their profitable use.

[Comment: The spiritual activities mentioned in the first listing are clearly taught in scripture. However, Dallas Willard believes that these scriptural spiritual activities cannot be “profitable” without the “more foundational” activities mentioned in the last listing. Some of these “more foundational” activities are centuries old practices that originated with the desert fathers of the Catholic Church and incorporate eastern mysticism.]

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