Conceptions of Spirituality among the Dutch Population

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Summary

This article explores the conceptions of spirituality in a large and representative sample ( N =2313) of the general population in the Netherlands. Spirituality is described mostly in cognitive terms (54%), especially in the form of general references to a transcendent reality (e.g. ‘more between heaven and earth’). Experiential expressions are used in more than a quarter of the descriptions. Important patterns in the descriptions are: spirituality as the transcendent God, spirituality as inwardness, and spirituality as mental health. In the sample, 21% distance themselves from spirituality; among people with a secular outlook this percentage is 35%. We paid special attention to differences in conceptions of spirituality between people inside and outside institutional religious contexts and between people who self-identify as ‘spiritual’ and those who do not.

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