Religion and the Spiritual Quest

Robert M. Torrance

in The Spiritual Quest

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 1994 | ISBN: 9780520081321
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520920163 | DOI:
Religion and the Spiritual Quest

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This chapter argues that culture is very nearly a second nature, and that the most ordinary effort is all but certain not to miscarry. However, awareness of this process may set human beings self-consciously apart from a no longer “natural” world which they strive to regain or surpass; the concerted effort to overcome this apartness is a cardinal condition of the quest. The very term spiritual is an index of this separation; for distinction from the body places the unhoused spirit in a state of incompletion and need. Whether or not the process of self-transcendence has its inarticulate origin in the protoplasmic beginnings of life, evolution can be comprehended as lying in the nature of spirit, which owes its existence to the separation that it continually strives to overcome.

Keywords: culture; human beings; natural world; separation; spirit; self-transcendence; life

Chapter.  6390 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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