The Spiritual Root System

January 1, 2019
 min read

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Chip Dodd has used the Spiritual Root System™ as a guide to help people live fully, love deeply, and lead well. The Spiritual Root System™ helps us see our humanity holistically—our physiology, psychology, biology, and spirituality. With this better understanding of who we’re made to be, we can more fully do what we’re made to do.

The Spiritual Root System™ synthesizes common themes of Christian theology, counseling psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, and the arts into a simple meeting of life’s relational complexity.

The Spiritual Root System™

For our hearts to grow, our roots need emotional and spiritual nourishment. The 5 essential roots of the human heart are feelings, needs, desire, longings, and hope.


We come out of the womb experiencing life through feelings. They are primary to our human experience and awaken us to our hearts. We use feelings to communicate our God-given hunger for relationship.

Dr. Chip Dodd has developed The Eight Feelings™ to help us name what we are experiencing in our hearts. They are the beginning of the expression of all human emotional experience. From these core feelings we can expand the expression to name conditions of the heart such as awe, grief, envy, anxiousness, depression, revenge, delight, and boredom.

The Eight Feelings™ are:

  • Hurt
  • Lonely
  • Sad
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Glad

Learn more about The Eight Feelings™ in Chip Dodd’s book, The Voice of the Heart


The more we feel, the more we will need.

You and I were created with needs much more powerful than food, clothing, and shelter. We have emotional and spiritual needs that reveal the truth about our vulnerability.

We were created to need more for ourselves, more from others, and more with God. Just as we are created as emotional beings, we are created also as needy beings. The reality is that the more we feel, the more we will need. This is good news because our needs speak forth our humanity, which in turn, joins us to all others.

Learn more about needs in Chip Dodd’s book, The Needs of the Heart


Once we’ve recognized our needs, desire is the energy that moves us toward fulfillment and expression.

Desire, the hunger for life, is the energy that moves you toward fulfillment and expression. Desire is a pure glimpse of who you’re made to be. If you are in contact with the depths of your heart, you will desire whatever is noble, pure, lovely, admirable, true, right, and excellent–and you will hunger to participate in creating these things.


Longings are soulful wishes that yearn for fulfillment.

Longings are the heart’s deep emotional and spiritual cravings for justice, rest, peace, safety, and home. They are both painful and wonderful–painful because they never will be completely fulfilled on earth, wonderful because we can have enough to teach us that we can wait for more.


Hope is the inextinguishable agent that seeks fulfillment of our createdness—which is to feel, need, desire, and long.

Hope is the heart’s passion for life. It is the inextinguishable flame that illuminates our hunger for relationship. Hope is the voice that calls us to look, to believe, and to trust. To risk hoping builds faith.

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