Secular Spirituality: The Next Step Towards Enlightenment by Harald Walach

How to Cite

Grosso, M. (2015). Secular Spirituality: The Next Step Towards Enlightenment by Harald Walach. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 29(2). Retrieved from


Harald Walach's Secular Spirituality: The Next Step Towards Enlightenment is an ambitious book that touches on a variety of abstruse materials, ranging from medieval mysticism to quantum mechanics. The author is a clinical psychologist who in this book takes on the role of physician of worldviews. The title Secular Spirituality confuses the reader because the word secular connotes non-religious and non-spiritual. But by secular he means "not part of any institutionalized dogma or belief-system." Although the distinction between spiritual and religious, a popular trope nowadays, can be overdone, it is central to Walach's project.

He begins by describing himself as having had important spiritual experiences, but treats them critically and with nuance, a stance essential to his notion of secular spirituality. In this book, he comments on many, many topics, distinctions, and presuppositions, and not always with clarity, which can retard the flow of the narrative; so my comments are highly selective.

            Walach's project seems to be twofold.  He wants to disentangle the gold of spiritual experience from the dogmatic, variously tainted, residues. The first step is to rescue spirituality from religion and its biases. But the author also takes on the complementary task of rescuing the spiritual from the hubris of science. To succeed in freeing the spiritual from the fetters of religion and from the ignorance of dogmatic science: that happy conjunction of fates would constitute 'the next step towards enlightenment'-our book's subtitle.

   Walach stipulates that his idea of enlightenment is meant in the 18th century European sense where science throws off the shackles of superstition and tyrannical religion; but his usage also includes mystical enlightenment, as described in the ecstatic poetry of a Rumi or the meditations of a Meister Eckhart. So much for the main idea of the book: saving spirituality from science that has fallen under the spell of physicalism, and creating a new science informed and transformed by spirituality.


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