Airport chapels raised the issue of spiritual needs unrelated to any particular religion. According Maslow, once basic needs are fulfilled, the need for self-actualization appears: “What a man can be, he must be” (A Theory of human motivation, 1943). In a list of traits that self-actualization people exhibit (Motivation and personality, 1970) there are interesting tips such as “philosophical, unhostile sense of humor”, “mystic and peak experiences”, “feelings of limitless horizons opening up to the vision, the feeling of being. Simultaneously more powerful and also more helpless than one ever was before, the feeling of great ecstasy and wonder and awe, the loss of placing in time and space”.
If there are spiritual needs, can they be formulated as a right?
In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, most of the articles point to very basic issues. Those that go a bit beyond are article (24): “Everyone has the right torest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodicholidays with pay”. An also article (27): “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.”
This is very similar to what we can find in theConvention on the rights of the Child, article 31: “1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts. 2. States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.” In the first part of article 29 there is an eco of Maslow ideas: “States parties States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to the development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential”.
I remember a paper about children’s spiritual rights/needs from Fundació Jaume Bofill (can’t get the reference) where the following features where suggested as belonging to spiritual life:
(1) Wonder and awe
(2) personal experience of joy
(3) experience a feeling of inner serenity
(4) to be aware of the relations and links with other beings and things
Lately I’ve been fortunate enough to fulfil all the aspects of spiritual life:
(1) On Sunday morning I was in wonder and awe when I discovered that out of an acorn, apparently inactive during a whole year, a little cork tree had sprouted.
(2) I had lentils for lunch and, so they were so tasty that I had a rapture of intensejoy. Ah! how can life be so enjoyable?
(3) Lentils were responsible not only for the state of intense joy, but they led me to a nice easy nap. When I woke up, I stayed in bed, breathing slowly, looking at the blue rectangle of sky limited by the window. I experienced a profound inner serenity.
(4) While looking at this blue rectangle, I saw swallows crossing, flying happily. Shrieking. I thought of all the springs I’ve seen them come back, the place where they spend winter in, how would look Barcelona seen from above, all the other people in the world that in this precise moment where staring at flying swallows. I remembered the picture “Bird in space” by Joan Miró at the Reina Sofia Museum which captures in two perfect strokes the fly of a bird in space. And all this together made me feel aware of the connections with all kind of beings.