Is spirituality the essence of sustainability?
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What is spirituality? Does it have a place in contemporary life where corporate systems and material driven lifestyles dominate? It would seem that many people are not comfortable talking about spirituality in public for fear of raising controversy. That in itself suggests that rather than being insignificant, spirituality is an important element of everyday life. To explore this further, I have developed what I term a ‘Connectivity Matrix’ to enable the representation of the great diversity of opinions, interpretations, and experiences regarding spirituality in today’s world. I am currently trialling this matrix through my doctoral fieldwork. It places spirituality as one of the pillars of everyday life alongside the other pillars of community, corporate systems, and nature. This paper proposes that the commonly used concepts of the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ and the ‘Four Pillars of Sustainability’ are incomplete without a spirituality pillar. Using the Connectivity Matrix, a series of semi-structured interviews and workshops have been conducted with people involved in various areas of sustainability in Western Australia. This paper uses recent scientific findings as well as established and new theories relating to mainstream spirituality to analyse perceptions, experiences, and understandings in relation to the role of spirituality in today’s society and its impact on sustainability.
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