Spiritual Naturalism is easier to get a grip on when you think about the phrase itself. Any time there is a naturalist worldview (without supernatural beliefs) and there is any kind of spirituality, contemplative practice, or ritual – that is Spiritual Naturalism. As such, that makes it a pretty big tent. It includes, for example, Humanistic or Cultural Judaism. It includes Religious Humanism (which is religious in the sense of structure and practice, but as naturalistic as Secular Humanism). It includes many various ancient philosophies such as Stoicism, Epicureanism, and so on. It also includes naturalistic forms of pantheism and Paganism.
Some of the largest emerging communities within Spiritual Naturalism seem to be Atheistic Pantheism, Secular Buddhism, and Stoicism. Many people are surprised to learn that there are even naturalistic forms of Christianity beginning to appear. In addition, the ideas of people like Spinoza, or the poetry of people like Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson can be important influences. The thoughts and awe-inspiring perspectives of people like Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan bring a great sense of the sacred to the natural universe, and are indispensable. More recent religious naturalist writers, philosophers, and researchers have offered important work in the movement. At the Spiritual Naturalist Society, we try to include educational materials, articles, and references to all of these traditions. Some are books by our friends in the movement; others are publications by our own fine writers.
That doesn’t mean that every Spiritual Naturalist practices all of these traditions (a daunting prospect). Some Spiritual Naturalists (myself included) build their practice from a variety of traditions that speak to them and seem to work well together for them – an eclectic approach. I am a Humanist, Stoic, Taoist, Buddhist, with an interest in integrating complex-systems theory perspectives and Pagan ritual (or, I often just say I’m a Spiritual Naturalist). But some naturalists prefer to focus in on a single community or tradition. Others don’t take on any one tradition, or even a group of them, but simply prefer to develop their own ideas and rituals to make life better and more fulfilling. Not all of these interpretations will agree with one another, and that’s ok! Continuously searching, changing, growing, and evolving are wonderful options too. Without a supernatural belief in some kind of punishment for disloyalty, we are all free to explore.
That is why our goal in the Society is to help any of these many kinds of Spiritual Naturalists find information, community, and friends that help them along their own path. I often like to say that building one’s individual practice is part of Spiritual Naturalist practice. If it looks to you like one tradition has more presence than another, or that certain sources are missing, this is often simply because of the happenstance of what’s on the front page at the time, or our current collection of volunteer writers, or limitations of resources. It may mean – not that this isn’t a place for you – but just the opposite; that we need you more than ever to add your voice, representation, suggestions, and influences to the community. For example, I have long wanted to include more African, Native American, and other philosophical resources that are often under-represented.
Right now we are in the process of creating special spaces on our website for these traditions, and we are looking for curators to help manage those pages – adding new content and being there to answer questions and converse with others. We’ll let members know in the newsletter as more develops.
Please drop us a line and let us know how we’re doing! If you are new to Spiritual Naturalism, I hope this has been a helpful overview. If you are a long-timer, consider offering some of your input and time to help build this community to be even more inclusive!
Many thanks and Best wishes
With love and thanks,