Spiritual Change Outside Institutional Religion as Inner Work on the Self: Deep Within and Beyond

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The present study employed a qualitative phenomenological method to explore how processes of spiritual change were experienced outside institutional religion. In-depth interviews were conducted with 27 Israeli adults (13 men, 14 women; age range 25–66; M = 45.3) who experienced such a change. The findings underscored the pervasiveness of the concept of work, which was extensively discussed by all the participants and which reflected the meaning they ascribed to their experience of the change process. Spiritual work was experienced as effortful, demanding, and involving a gradual non-linear process without a clear end-point. Spiritual work on the self was perceived as involving two complementary processes: uncovering and cleansing the self—the Spiritual-Psychological facet—and expanding it and rising above—the Spiritual-Transpersonal facet. The discussion suggests that the interplay of psychological and transpersonal spiritual work makes up an alternative narrative of human personal development where modern values of work sustain a postmodern change process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Adult Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Adulthood
  • Phenomenology
  • Postmodernism
  • Qualitative methodology
  • Spiritual change
  • Spirituality
  • Work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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