Spiritual sustenance, naturally.

At the moment I’m reading a book which was mentioned on the blog called Urban Mystic (thanks, Tim). The title of the book is Beyond Religion: 8 Alternative Paths to the Sacred, by David N. Elkins. Because I haven’t finished it, I’ve not decided whether to add it to my list of recommended books.

“Buried deep in the heart of every adult is a longing for a life that matters.  We want to drink deeply from the stream of existence and know the passion of being truly alive.  The purpose of this book is to say that such a life is possible, and that it all begins by learning how to nurture and care for the soul.”

OK. Nurturing the soul is what Elkins considers the spiritual life to be about. But I’m trying to understand exactly what he means by soul, since it is basic to what he is putting forth. He does claim that one doesn’t need religion in order to nurture one’s soul. Should be interesting to see what moves he makes to define soul in non-religious ways. More after I’ve read more.

Meanwhile, some of the ideas I’ve already come across in this book may be fun to play with at the Sanctuary Without Walls  monthly gathering tomorrow. Please come if you are interested! 4 PM.


By the way, the eight paths are: The Feminine, The Arts, The Body, Psychology, Mythology, Nature, Relationships, and Dark Nights of the Soul.

Comments on: "Eight Alternative Spiritual Paths" (6)

  1. natureloversunited said:

    I would like to think that the use of the word soul, which has obvious connotations, is largely a matter of semantics. Even in the Christian faith there is disagreement as to the use of the terms soul and spirit so I try not to get caught up too much in word choice. As a naturalistic pantheist I feel that there is a life force within all things we find in the universe, that “God” consists of those parts collectively and that all life is therefore sacred. Any efforts we make to enrich our own spirits/souls or to improve the quality of life for other living things ultimately benefits more than just ourselves.

    I am actually in agreement with the concept that we don’t need religion to serve this purpose. For example, I explore nature, view art, read, listen to music, write and take photographs of nature. All of these things enrich me and increase both my appreciation and understanding of the world around me. In doing so I am more able recognize and serve the needs of my fellow denizens of this place both human and non-human. On the other hand, what participating in some sort of organized religion does do is provide us with an outlet for self expression, a sense of personal renewal and the ability to expand our knowledge and understanding through personal interaction. Why, if we are truly interested in personal growth and improving our world, would we deny ourselves of any avenues.

    Appealing to those of us who somehow feel disenfranchised by the traditional religious establishment might sell copy, and it may be true that we don’t need religion to grow, however there is a danger in totally discounting the role of religion as part of our spiritual diet. Balanced spiritual nutrition is just as important as physical nutrition and I believe we should be careful with any philosophy that closes doors or teaches us that we are just fine without religion.


    • natureloversunited said:


      I have made an interesting discovery about what I have professed to be my belief system and therefore must issue a correction to my post. I am not a naturalistic pantheist as I have stated but instead a dualistic pantheist. I was not until just a few minutes ago aware that such a categorization existed. We choose to describe ourselves in accordance to the labels which best fit what we are until such time as we find a better label. So I have said and so I have done.


    • Robert,
      I have not forgotten you. Life has been a bit complex here. A proper response will be posted eventually!
      From my soul to yours,


  2. Will await Part II to see if you like it.

    michael j


  3. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the book 🙂


  4. Katherine,

    Thank you for your visit and comment on my blog. Oh, how I wish I were in upstate New York … your sanctuary without walls sounds wanderful. I have not lived my life connected to nature. I am much more of a indoors, bookworm, artistic type creature. However, my husband loves natures … the birds, flowers, trees. and he is nurturing the nature within me and I am discovering this is vital to my creative life … connecting with nature, with the earth and the energy within this earth … is needed to feed my soul.


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