Interspirituality is Not the Same as Superstition

Interspirituality is Not the Same as Superstition August 22, 2022

In this article, I want to clarify the difference between interspirituality and superstition. There is a reason for doing this. Far too many people equate the terms spirituality and superstition, subsequently dismissing both. I can’t really blame them. I was raised in the New Age movement and know that many of the participants failed to make a clear distinction. They embraced superstitious practices and told everyone they were spiritual. It took me a while to separate the two in my mind.

Defining Terms

Before I go any further, let me define the terms so that we are on the same page.

Interspirituality: The exploration of the immaterial or sentient parts of our being using methods and ideas that are shared by and/or exist between the world’s wisdom traditions.*

*My definition (see here)

Superstition: A widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or practice based on such a belief.**

**Dictionary definition

The Difference is Clear

Interspirituality is a personal exploration that utilizes ideas and methods that exist in more than one wisdom tradition. Examples include prayer, meditation, service, contemplation and compassion, all of which exist cross-religiously.

Superstition is a belief in supernatural causation that often presupposes that you can either do something to affect the outcome or know the outcome before it happens. Examples include lucky objects, fortune tellers, soothsayers and magic rituals, to name a few.

Superstitions Are Not Widely Codified

Superstitions have been with humans for a long time. They speak to our primal need for certainty; our need to be able to influence the outcome in a world where we have little power; our need to know what happens next.

And I’ll admit it. Earlier in my life, especially when I was around New Age practitioners who failed to make distinctions between superstition and spirituality, I sought the counsel of mediums and astrological charts. I even made some major decisions based on those readings. Some turned out well. Others did not.

In my defense, this was well before I had any ability to accept life as it was and find serenity in the chaos. My need to know what would happen next overtook my ability to discern.

However, as I continued to study the world’s religions and wisdom traditions, I realized that superstitions were not widely codified. In fact, the opposite was true. Scriptures and mystical texts alike rebuffed superstitions rather than embraced them.

Interspiritual Practices and Ideas

One of the core concepts in interspirituality is that ideas and practices must exist in more than one tradition. If something exists in three, four, or more… it is worth taking a closer look. That is why I usually lead with prayer, meditation, service, compassion and contemplation because they appear everywhere.

There is another side to that coin. Interspirituality also needs to acknowledge what is left out of most traditions. Superstitions appear to top that bill. Even though some followers may be superstitious—it’s a human trait, after all—no serious theological or mystical scholar has memorialized such beliefs in scriptures.

Granted, militant atheists may disagree because they’ve reduced all human spirituality to ‘hooey,’ but that’s another story. For those of us who see value in spirituality in the modern age, it’s important to note that superstitions do not meet the interspiritual threshold of being valued in many traditions.

For Clarification

Widespread misunderstanding. That is why I wrote this article. In the minds of far too many people, superstition, spirituality and interspirituality are the same. I wanted to demonstrate that they are not.

Interestingly enough, even though I’ve thought about this subject for years, writing the article further clarified my thinking. I hope reading it did the same for you.

Gudjon Bergmann
Author and Mindfulness Teacher
Amazon Author Profile

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Picture: CC0 License

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What is Interspirituality?
Spirituality: A Definition

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