Spiritual modeling is proposed as an important but neglected component of traditional religious involvement, as well as of many spiritual practices. Religious and spiritual traditions often portray spirituality as primarily "caught, not taught," as transmitted through formal and informal observation of persons serving as exemplars of how to live a spiritually meaningful life. Such spiritual models have included founders of great religions (e.g., the Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad), as well as more contemporary figures (e.g., Teresa of Avila, Gandhi). Members of a person's own society or family have also served as spiritual models throughout history. We argue that understanding and facilitating spiritual modeling experiences may be a key but relatively neglected role of traditional religion and contemporary spirituality. We discuss some possible processes of spiritual modeling, links with other scientifically recognized dimensions of religion and spirituality, and implications for intervention design.
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