Union with Christ is the purpose of Christian mysticism.
An 18th Century Sikh Raja

The meaning of spirituality has developed and expanded over time, and various meanings can be found alongside each other.

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Personal development

Personal development or self improvement consists of activities that develop a person's capabilities and potential, build human capital, facilitate employability, and enhance quality of life and the realization of dreams and aspirations.

Human capital infographic

Spiritual identity development and recognition

Meaning of life

Meaning of life?", pertains to the significance of living or existence in general.

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, one of Post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin's most famous paintings
DNA, the molecule containing the genetic instructions for the development and functioning of all known living organisms.
The metric expansion of space. The inflationary epoch is the expansion of the metric tensor at left.
Hieronymus Bosch's Ascent of the Blessed depicts a tunnel of light and spiritual figures, often described in reports of near-death experiences.
Plato and Aristotle in The School of Athens fresco, by Raphael. Plato is pointing heavenwards to the sky, and Aristotle is gesturing to the world.
Immanuel Kant is regarded as one of the most influential thinkers of the late Enlightenment.
Jeremy Bentham
The End of the World, by John Martin.
Edvard Munch's The Scream, a representation of existential angst.
The "Happy Human" symbol representing secular humanism.
Symbols of the three main Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado mountain in Rio de Janeiro is symbolic of Christianity, illustrating the concept of seeking redemption through Jesus Christ.
The Ringstone symbol represents humanity's connection to God
A golden Aum written in Devanagari. The Aum is sacred in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religions.
The eight-spoked Dharmachakra
The Khanda, an important symbol of Sikhism.
Taijitu symbolizes the unity of opposites between yin and yang.
Shinto torii, a traditional Japanese gate
Dante and Beatrice see God as a point of light surrounded by angels; from Gustave Doré's illustrations for the Divine Comedy
Charles Allan Gilbert's All is Vanity, an example of vanitas, depicts a young woman amidst her makeup and perfumes, preoccupied with her own beauty at the mirror of her vanity. But all is positioned in such a way as to make the image of a skull appear, expressing memento mori, that no matter how good she looks, it won't last, as death is inevitable.
Hamlet meditating upon Yorick's skull has become the most lasting embodiment of the imagery of vanitas, conveying the theme memento mori ('Remember you shall die'). Whatever the meaning of life, it (life) is fleeting.

These questions have resulted in a wide range of competing answers and explications, from scientific theories, to philosophical, theological, and spiritual explanations.


Phenomena or entities that are not subject to the laws of nature.

Saint Peter Attempting to Walk on Water (1766), painting by François Boucher
The Archangel Michael wears a late Roman military cloak and cuirass in this 17th-century depiction by Guido Reni
Schutzengel (English: "Guardian Angel") by Bernhard Plockhorst depicts a guardian angel watching over two children.
In Jainism, a soul travels to any one of the four states of existence after death depending on its karmas.
The patron saint of air travelers, aviators, astronauts, people with a mental handicap, test takers, and poor students is Saint Joseph of Cupertino, who is said to have been gifted with supernatural flight.
Theodor von Holst, Bertalda, Assailed by Spirits, c. 1830
Bronze statuette of the Assyro-Babylonian demon king Pazuzu, circa 800 BC –- circa 700 BC, Louvre
Witches by Hans Baldung. Woodcut, 1508

Concepts in the supernatural domain are closely related to concepts in religious spirituality and occultism or spiritualism.


Philosophical movement that developed in the late 1820s and 1830s in New England.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Henry David Thoreau
Margaret Fuller

It arose as a reaction, to protest against the general state of intellectualism and spirituality at the time.

Image of God

Concept and theological doctrine in Christianity, as well as in Judaism.

In "Creation of Adam," Michelangelo provides a great example of the substantive view of the image of God through the mirroring of the human and the divine.
Issues surrounding "the fall" and "original sin" often became a crucial points of contention among Christian theologians seeking to understand the image of God.
Hebrew Midrashim depict the image of God in democratic or universal terms.

The human likeness to God can also be understood by contrasting it with that which does not image God, i.e., beings who, as far as we know, are without this spiritual self-awareness and the capacity for spiritual / moral reflection and growth.


Rudolf Steiner
Second Goetheanum, seat of the Anthroposophical Society
Ignaz Paul Vitalis Troxler
The Representative of Humanity, detail of a sculpture in wood by Rudolf Steiner and Edith Maryon.
Flowforms in Darmstadt, Germany
The First Goetheanum, designed by Steiner in 1920, Dornach, Switzerland.
The Representative of Humanity, by Rudolf Steiner and Edith Maryon

Anthroposophy is a spiritualist movement founded in the early 20th century by the esotericist Rudolf Steiner that postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world, accessible to human experience.

Rudolf Steiner

Austrian occultist, social reformer, architect, esotericist, Some of the literature regarding Steiner's work in these various fields: Goulet, P: "Les Temps Modernes?", L'Architecture D'Aujourd'hui, December 1982, pp. 8–17; Architect Rudolf Steiner at GreatBuildings.com; Rudolf Steiner International Architecture Database; Brennan, M.: Rudolf Steiner ArtNet Magazine, 18 March 1998; Blunt, R.: Waldorf Education: Theory and Practice – A Background to the Educational Thought of Rudolf Steiner.

Steiner c. 1905
The house where Rudolf Steiner was born, in present-day Croatia
Rudolf Steiner, graduation photo from secondary school
Rudolf Steiner as 21-year-old student (1882)
Rudolf Steiner around 1891–92, etching by Otto Fröhlich
Steiner, c.1900
Rudolf Steiner in Munich with Annie Besant, leader of the Theosophical Society. Photo from 1907
Marie Steiner, 1903
Steiner's gravestone at the Goetheanum
The Waldorf school in Verrières-le-Buisson (France)
English sculptor Edith Maryon belonged to the innermost circle of founders of anthroposophy and was appointed to head the Section of Sculptural Arts at the Goetheanum.
Rudolf Steiner 1900
Memorial for Rudolf Steiner in Vienna

In the first, more philosophically oriented phase of this movement, Steiner attempted to find a synthesis between science and spirituality.

New Age

New Age meditation group at the Snoqualmie Moondance festival, 1992
This barrel house was the first dwelling constructed at the Findhorn Ecovillage.
New Age shrine in Glastonbury, England
Astrological ideas hold a central place in the New Age
Reiki is one of the alternative therapies commonly found in the New Age movement.
Stonehenge is a site visited by New Age pilgrims, as seen in this midsummer rave.
Isis, a New Age shop named after the Ancient Egyptian goddess that was located in St Albans, southern England
The New World Alliance was one of several New Age political groups in the 1970s and 1980s.
New Age author Marianne Williamson campaigned for a seat in the U.S. Congress and for the Democratic Party nomination for president.
One of the first academics to study the New Age was Wouter Hanegraaff.

New Age is a range of spiritual or religious practices and beliefs which rapidly grew in Western society during the early 1970s.

Swami Vivekananda

Indian Hindu monk, philosopher and author.

Vivekananda in Chicago, September 1893. On the Left note, Vivekananda wrote: "One infinite pure and holy – beyond thought beyond qualities I bow down to thee".
Group photo taken on 30 January 1887 in Baranagar Math, Kolkata. Standing: (l–r) ) Shivananda, Ramakrishnananda, Vivekananda, Randhuni, Debendranath Majumdar, Mahendranath Gupta (Shri M), Trigunatitananda, H.Mustafi Sitting: (l–r) Niranjanananda, Saradananda, Hutko Gopal, Abhedananda
Vivekananda at Chennai 1897
Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati (a branch of the Ramakrishna Math founded on 19 March 1899) later published many of Vivekananda's work and now publishes Prabuddha Bharata.

Born into an aristocratic Bengali Kayastha family of Calcutta, Vivekananda was inclined towards spirituality.

Biodynamic agriculture

Form of alternative agriculture based on pseudo-scientific and esoteric concepts initially developed in 1924 by Rudolf Steiner .

Rudolf Steiner, occultist philosopher and founder of "anthroposophic agriculture", later known as "biodynamic".

It treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives.