Spirituality and transcendence

Spirituality and religion


UFO belief is a modern outlet for ancient spiritual yearnings

Even when it’s not explicitly religious, belief in alien visitors resembles our oldest ways of making sense of the world

by Francesco Dimitri

A woman seen from behind and bathed in dawn light is looking out through a window to a forest

Altered states


The small pleasures in life can produce moments of rapture

Rapture is a delight that turns us both towards the object of attention and towards oneself, resulting in a sense of freedom

by Christopher Hamilton

Dissociation and detachment


The therapeutic potential, and addictive lure, of losing yourself

In ketamine therapy and other contexts, dissociation is seen as an unwanted side-effect. But what if there’s more to it?

by Shayla Love

Laughter and comedy


Absurdist comedy is uniquely brilliant at conveying human pain

On stage as Mr Fruit Salad, I’ve seen how the bizarre and ridiculous can convey deep meaning in a way that resonates

by Joz Norris

Rituals and celebrations


Together forever: ‘at-home burial’ in southern Vietnam

What might a traveller along the Mekong Delta learn about the beliefs and traditions behind the country’s elevated tombs?

by Gina Elia

Sacred places


Why Indian Buddhism has gardens, not monasteries

Wishing trees, jewels, unfading flowers – what place do these sensual pleasures have in the ascetic life of Buddhist monks?

by Simran Agarwal

Mindfulness and meditation


Here’s what to know about using meditation to be a better person

Meditating has long been thought to enhance morality. But the type of meditation – and the aspects of morality – matter

by Jakob Hohwy & Kevin Berryman

Sacred places


Paganism is a potent force in Ireland’s conservation movement

Long-held beliefs in an ‘Otherworld’ inhabited by wrathful fairies are now driving a resurgence in Irish eco-activism

by Juju Lane