Originally posted by rwingett
Due to its inescapable religious connotations, I avoid using the word whenever possible.
I dislike the word too.
Protestant theologian Paul Tillch said many years ago that, in his opinion, the word had become bankrupt. He thought that “spirit” was close, and suggested that “spirited” (as in living a spirited life; or saying “that’s a spirited horse” ) might be salvageable.
A year or so ago, both BdN and I were trying to argue that the word ought to be dropped—when bbarr shut us down with a definition that he found acceptable. I didn’t save it, but it had something to do with experiential contact with “the real” (I think that was his phrase) underneath all the concepts, categories, words, etc.
I use the word “mystical” for that—also a dangerous word because of the religious connotations, and I generally include the caveat that I don’t mean “supernatural.”
Nevertheless, the word "mystical" has a kind of "technical" usage in the literature, and "spiritual" arises in common discourse, even among nontheists--so it's difficult to escape the terms...