As I examine religions and other spiritualities, there are repeating motifs – not perhaps that surprising since I do believe that most people have fundamentally similar base spiritual needs. And since one of my goals is to understand the patterns of spiritualities while the other is to develop my own, it behooves me on both counts to dig into this – and especially to dig into the rituals, traditions, and practices that seem to exist in one form or another across most spiritualities.
Having a moment of some kind of spiritual communion, for example, is a practice common to most spiritualities. Many western spiritualities enfold that as prayer, while many eastern spiritualities use meditation for that purpose instead – but scratch the surface and you will find both answer a very similar spiritual need.
Or take the passing of wisdom from spiritual leaders to those who gather to hear them. Some call this practice giving a sermon, say call it preaching, some simply call it teaching, depending on the spirituality – but again, the common thread is evident.
There are many of these common traditions or methods. For the sake of this website’s continuing discussion, I will from now own refer to them as “praxes” – or if only talk about one, a “praxis”.
So, a prayer is a spiritual praxis. So is meditation. Sitting outside in stillness listening to nature speak to you can also be a praxis. In fact, it is likely that all three are actually the same praxis in different forms, using different expressions – but ultimately addressing the same need.
It is this collection of praxes that make up the most visible aspect of a spirituality. That and the creed – more on this later.
I guess part of the process of understanding something is learning its parts and pieces, its components. If you want to understand, for example, the Episcopal Church, you could start by learning the various aspects and methods that the Church employs.
To understand spirituality as a whole, however, you aren’t looking at specific components, you’re looking at the templates that they follow. You have to learn the ways that spiritualities are in general, one assumes by looking at various example spiritualities and finding what they have in common, while also looking at the human spirit and listening to what it needs from these systems.
Praxes are I think going to be a big part of that – identifying and understanding the root praxis underlying each common need and method.
Note: “Praxis” is of course singular, while “praxes” is plural. Praxis is pronounced much like it looks – “prak-zihs”, rhymes with axis. Praxes is pronounced “prak-zeez”.