The Calling of Practical Spirituality

  • Ananta Kumar Giri


Practical spirituality involves transformation of both science and religion. In the field of religion, practical spirituality emerges in varieties of transformative movements and seeking in self, culture, and society which interrogate existing structures of domination and strive for new modes of self-realization, God-realization, and world-realization. Practical spirituality seeks to transform religion in the direction of creative practice, everyday life, and struggle for justice and dignity. Practice here is not just practice in the conventional sense, for example, in traditions of American pragmatism or anthropological conception of practice as offered by Clifford Geertz, Pierre Bourdieu, and Jürgen Habermas. These conceptions suffer from an entrenched dualism such as theory and practice and immanence and transcendence and work with a notion of subject which is predominantly “techno-practitioner” and cut off from its inescapable and integral links with transcendence. But practice in practical spirituality is simultaneously immanent and transcendent and the actor here is simultaneously a “techno-practitioner” and “transcendentally real self.” Practical spirituality embodies immanent transcendence, as for example in music or in the experience of transcendence in our various moments of everyday life—love, meditations, scientific engagements, and other activities of life and in society.

Practical spirituality emphasizes experience and realization—self, God, and world—in and through practice but at the same time nurtures the humility not to reduce these only to practice. In its emphasis upon experience and realization practical spirituality has close kinship with the spirit of science which embodies, in the words of Albert Einstein, a holy spirit of inquiry. In its emphasis upon practice, practical spirituality stresses that without taking part in practice we cannot realize truth—religious or otherwise. Practical spirituality involves manifold experiments with Truth as well as truths where truth is not a thing but a landscape of meaning, experience, and co-realization. This chapter describes such visions and movements of practical spirituality.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ananta Kumar Giri
    • 1
  1. 1.Madras Institute of Development StudiesChennaiIndia

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