Humanism is the practice of taking a rational approach to improving the problems of the world and finding our place in it. Spirituality usually means adherence to a faith based belief, some explanation of the cosmos which fulfills a deep human need, but which is ultimately unprovable. So the idea of a Humanist Spirituality doesn’t make sense. Right?
The need for understanding the big picture is universal. Mystery and awe are spices which our psyches need to balance the crusty, pedantic reality we face daily. The purpose of religion and spirituality is to fill those needs. My question is, must spirituality imply belief in something non-empirical, non-observable?
Buddhism is a good example of a rational, empirical spiritual practice. There are no gods, no dogma, yet there is much description of valid and attainable truths, culminating with enlightenment. Yoga has a similar spiritual component, as does Taoism.
Paganism, though commonly debased and dismissed, has great validity, especially today. We busy ourselves with progress while our planet is being destroyed by corporate greed and consumer blindness. Teaching a humble respect for Mother Earth as a primary rule of a healthy spirit might help turn the tide.
All the above traditions have irrational components, remnants left over from cultural traditions long outdated and disproved. But each one has a valid sense of the human need for connection to something greater than ourselves and liberation from the suffering of life. Rationality fails to take us beyond a certain point. Humans need some kind of poetic and comforting practice through which to understand or at least fathom the mysteries beyond rational analysis.
Perhaps a hybrid of the two might fill both requirements. A set spiritual practices based on physiological knowledge of the need for mystery would be a beginning. The next might be to include a set of affirmations like the ones chosen by the Humanist Society. I explore some of these ideas in this article on Humanist Spirituality.