Three Kinds of Spiritual Traditions

Prayer Flags Hanging Above Pictures of Anandamayi Ma and Deities
March 17, 2021

Shambhavi talks about animist, transcendental, and immanent traditions. The satsang concludes with a question about the call and response nature of life. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

Podcast First Words

Question: I’ve been thinking a lot about this habit within spiritual and new age communities to call each other goddesses. It kind of irks me, and that’s my own problem. But I feel that it negates the worthwhile-ness of being human, and I just wonder if you can talk a little bit about that.

Shambhavi: Well, in the world, there are basically three kinds of spiritual traditions. There are animist traditions, earth traditions, etc. Their main view is that everything is alive, even what we call inanimate objects. And so there is this deep, deep valuing of all of the manifestations of life.

Then there are what are called the transcendental traditions. These are more subject to this kind of thought where what’s happening here at ground level—among humans, animals, and other beings here—is thought of as lesser than what’s happening in deva lokas or some more ethereal realms. The goal of those traditions is to transcend from this form of embodiment or this kind of human experience to some other experience that’s considered to be more exalted. So that’s called a transcendental tradition.

Then there are traditions that are immanent traditions rather than transcendental. This means that whatever is the divine principle or the alive, aware principle is immanent in everything. And it’s very, very close to animism. So in the traditions of immanentism, as it’s called, everything is made of God or everything is made of the Self. Any of those kinds of ideas are immanent traditions.

Anandamayi Ma said it the best way. She said, “The father is in the mother.” So if earth is the mother, then the father—meaning the aware principle—is in the mother all the time. It’s within.


Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.