Mark LaRocca-Pitt`s – Authentic Spirituality

Interactions Class, St Mark UMC, 2014
Mark LaRocca-Pitts, BCC, M.Div, PhD
Chaplain, Crossroads Hospice of Atlanta
When you think of spirituality,
what comes to mind?
Is there a difference between
spirituality and religion?
My work as a chaplain.
 Internship at Emory Healthcare in cardiac care
 Residency at Duke University Medical Center in oncology
 Clinical chaplain at Duke in Infectious Diseases
Staff chaplain at Athens Regional Medical Center
Hospice chaplain with Crossroads of Atlanta
Ordained as a United Methodist Pastor
Endorsed as a chaplain for a Healthcare Setting
Board Certified with Association of Professional Chaplains
Chaplain in a Healthcare Setting
 Not the same as a parish or church setting
 Pastoral care vs. spiritual care
 NO proselytizing!
 Multicultural
 Multifaith
 Secular
 Scientific and medical models
The Search for Generic Spirituality
Definitions of Spirituality
 “Spirituality pertains to the individual’s relationship to
the Sacred.” Larry VandeCreek
 Problems:
Not everyone believes in “the Sacred”
Restricts spirituality to the Sacred
Deals only with the individual
 Bottom line: Too restrictive
Definitions of Spirituality
 "Spirituality (literally 'the breath of life') is conceptualized
as a complex, intrapsychic dimension of human
development, in which the individual moves toward 'higher'
states of connectiveness, well-being, consciousness, and/or
meaning (with) a desire to realize one's 'true self' or 'inner
potential'." David Derezotes, Ph.D.
 Problem (beyond psycho-babble!)
inTRA-psychic [not inTER-psychic]
in which the individual moves
to realize one’s ‘true self’ or ‘inner potential’
Bottom Line: Seems too self-centered. It’s all about ME!
Definitions of Spirituality
 Philosopher Aldous Huxley described human
spirituality as "the perennial philosophy; a
transcendent or divine reality beyond the limitations
of cultures, religions, and ego.”
 Problem
Too removed, too transcendent, Not immanent
Out of reach: Divine, not human
Outside the realm of here and now
Bottom Line: If it can’t help me in the here and now, what’s
the point!
Definitions of Spirituality
 “Spirituality is the aspect of humanity that refers to the
way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose
and the way they experience their connectedness to the
moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the
significant or sacred” (Puchalski, et. al., “Improving the Quality of Spiritual Care as
a Dimension of Palliative Care: The Report of the Consensus Conference,” Journal of Palliative Care v.
12, no. 10 [2009]. )
 Problem
 I did not publish it first!
Three key words central to Generic
(… but what is “spirit”? …)
Where is and what is “spirit” and
what is its function?
 What is the human being?
 Is there something “more”?
 What makes up the human
 Is there something beyond
the merely physical or
 How is this “something more”
The Human Being: Holistic
So, where is
It is “in” the
human being.
(…ok, so WHAT is “spirit”?...)
What is “spirit”?
 Greek, pneuma
 Latin, spiritus
 Hebrew, ruah
 “Breath”
Spirit as “breath.”
 Implies something inside
 Implies something personal
 Implies something vital and
life giving
 Implies something that can
be controlled/mastered
 Implies something that can
be cut off
Spirit as “breath.”
 If you have breath, you have spirit.
 Animating, life-giving force within us
 If it vitalizes or energizes you
 Intellectually
 Emotionally
 Esthetically
 Ethically
 Sexually
 Recreationally
 Physically
(… but there is a
second meaning …)
What is “spirit”?
 Greek, pneuma
 Latin, spiritus
 Hebrew, ruah
 “Wind”
Spirit as “wind.”
 Implies something “out
there” with direction and a
Implies a range of variables
Implies something that
cannot be controlled or
Implies something shared
or communal
Implies something difficult
or impossible to cut off
What is “spirit”?
Spirit as breath
 The INTRA-dimension of
 Personal/Individual
 Connects one with self
Spirit as wind
 The INTER-dimension of spirit
 Shared/Communal
 Connects one with others
 The TRANS-dimension of spirit
 Connects one with the OTHER
The spirit is that part of the human that experiences connectedness
with other humans, with nature, with ideas, with self, and with the
Divine or Significant. This experience of connectedness gives rise to
relationships, familial, friendly, social, ideological, natural, intrapersonal, and sacred. From this experience of connectedness and
being-in-relationship-with arise questions, concerns, and insights
dealing with meaning and purpose: Who am I? Why am I here? To
whom and where do I belong? What is my purpose? What is the
meaning of life?
Through this experience of connectedness, the spirit births the
human quest for meaningful connections with self, others, and
the Sacred or Significant. Seeking, finding, naming, sorting,
categorizing, and prioritizing these meaningful connections for
oneself is spirituality and when done communally within a
network of outside authority and tradition is religion.
… and Authentic (or Intentional) spirituality helps nurture this spiritual process …
Spiritual growth is threefold:
 INTRA-personal: Becoming a whole person via spirit
through the integration of body, psyche, and spirit.
 INTER-personal: Developing whole and healthy
relationships via spirit-to-spirit with other people.
 (TRANS-personal: Actualizing and deepening one’s
awareness of, presence within, and identity with the
Ground and Source of Being via spirit-to-Spirit.)
So what is Authentic Spirituality?
 Must have aspects of spirit as “breath”
 An inner dimension (in-TRA personal)
 Love of self
 Must have aspects of spirit as “wind”
 A shared/communal dimension (in-TER personal)
 Love of neighbor
 May have aspects of spirit as “Spirit”
 A “something more” dimension (TRANS-personal)
 Love of God (or the Significant)
 PLUS Intentionality!
 Authentic Spirituality provides meaning and purpose!
Ain’t Life GOOD!
Life has purpose!
… and then along comes ….
Death threatens …
 Life
 Existence
 Identity
 Community
 Connection
 Meaning
 Purpose
 Spirit
… or does it? …
… which brings us
(finally!) to …
Some quotes on Death.
 “You have to know the true nature of dying to understand
the true nature of living. If you don't understand death,
you don't understand life” (Thich Nhat Hanh).
 “If I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it
squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and
the pettiness of life - and only then will I be free to become
myself” (Martin Heidegger).
 “When we finally know we are dying, and all other beings
are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost
heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of
each moment and each being, and from this can grow a
deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings” (Sogyal
Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying).
The Measure of Authentic Spirituality:
 Connects one to true self/higher power (spirit as breath)
 Connects one to others, possibly including the Other
(spirit as wind)
 Via these experiences of connectedness, a sense of
meaning and purpose come into focus
 Who am I?
 Why am I here?
 What is my purpose?
 AND: It provides a process or a path to live life fully in
light of the reality of death (and makes “death” a part of one’s
If yours does not provide all this, then it is not
Authentic (or TRUE)

similar documents