These days you hear people say "I consider myself spiritual, but not religious" more and more. While I understand where that's coming from, what does it actually mean? I can see where someone can be spiritual without being religious, just as we can see religious people not being spiritual, but what do each of those look like? Since many here are starting to look at other forms of spirituality, (although it may be questionable whether the JW religion is a form of spirituality) I figure it would be good to consider this question. Can we even imagine a spiritual life without religion? What have you found in your experience in this regard?
Religion and Spirituality
First let me say that you can be both religious AND spiritual, and my reply does not take that away from anyone that fits that description. But to answer your question, I also make the statement that I am more spiritual than religious. In my case I am not religious at all. Religion to me denotes a church/temple/mosque, some sort of structure and other people. I don't need a building or other people, I am deeply connected to the divine, I feel their presence in my life all the time. I have deep moral and ethical convictions and live my life to reflect that. I spend time almost every day either meditating, praying, or in some other way acting on my spirituality.
What I don't do is preach it, it is very personal to me. I do share it, occasionally, I have been known to go to the local Unitarian Universalist church here in my area, and I have an on-line study group I participate in to feed my quest for learning and growth.
What a lot of religious people don't get is that this is even possible, because what works for them is a time, a place, other people, a structured experience, and someone that intervenes for them. I can attest, that none of this is required to have a connection to God/dess, and to live your life in a way that reflects your deeply held moral convictions.
I think of the difference as between a "house" and a "home."
House is a place, a location.
Home can be anywhere you are.
Blondie (I hope that makes sense and is not too Zen)
I'm starting to view spirituality as inward and religion as outward.
Religion to me kind of puts an end to a free mind and confines it to that of religious teaching. My advice keep mind open, and reject religious authority.
For the last decade or so I have always said, "I am a spiritual person, not religious".
For me, to be a religious person, means to believe and follow what other men are trying to teach you. In my spiritualality, I feel I have a one on one relationship with God, what ever God is. I don't pretend to know that, but I really don't think God is an old man up in the plaedies or something. I feel spirituality within me. Religion in mans own design.
An interesting question. I consider myself spiritual in the sense that I hold certain deep moral convictions and often think deeply about various subjects. Since I'm an agnostic and don't believe in any gods in a religious sense, this sometimes confuses religious people. I usually find that such people are not clear thinkers because they let their religious leaders or a religious book do their thinking for them, and so I don't think of such people as spiritual. So to me, there's a big difference between spirituality and religiosity. They're not mutually exclusive, but I think it's rare to find both in any one person, because to be deeply religious requires a good deal of suspension of clear thinking.
Even as an atheist I consider myself to be spiritual but not religious.
One does not need to believe in the supernatural, deities, or an afterlife in order to be spiritual.
Alan quite well summed up my own position on these matters.
I think that many of our definitions of 'spirituality' are a thinly veiled though understandable attempts to rationalize the creative urge in humankind, an urge which is arguably essential to the survival of all life on this planet.
At its most eloquent this creative process is best displayed in the art and music that have been part of modern humans since he first recognized a sense of mortality and began burying his friends with arranged flowers and other trappings of the hope for afterlife. If you travel to the South of France and look at the paintings in the caves at Lascaux you will see artists at work who are not just recording events but has imbued their subjects with strength and grace. It is quite obvious that they had closely studied the anatomy and structure of these beasts a tried to interpret this with the tools that they had at hand. With consciousness came a sense of spirit and of something greater at work than can be seen, and these ancient paintings pay homage to that 'spirituality'.
I know very few musicians for example who do not believe in some sort of cosmic life force behind the mysteries of life, many because the inspiration they feel as they write their music is often unexplainable and seems to them to emanate from outside of themselves. I remember speaking with Keith Jarrett on one occasion, a jazz pianist whose spontaneous compositions are legendary, and he informed me that he has no clue as to what he is going to play, even the second before he plays it but feels that his fingers are guided by a force greater than himself. Listen to his 'Koln Concert', played without one piece of music or one musical plan and you will understand what he means.
That imperative is alive in us all in different ways, and it is perhaps this that we speak of when we talk about 'spirituality'. In my own case it is this enigma that holds me to agnosticism rather than atheism, though I am fully aware that I will die with no answers, at least none that can be trusted. As far as I can see, religion is mans attempt to focus these mysteries into some sort of workable dogma, though it seldom works.
The only sure things in our world are life, death (even taxes can be avoided! ) and a knowledge that everything in this universe is changing, every single thing. This should preclude any of us becoming dogmatic about any of our views.
Best regards and thank you for an interesting question - HS
PS - Apologies for the formatting issues.
Words, words, words... they mean what we mean them to mean...
I too notice that more and more people describe themselves as "spiritual, not religious". But I still wonder what they mean exactly.
Personally I would not readily say that. I don't believe in God anymore, I don't practice any religion, but I think I am still somewhat religious-minded. Does that mean "spiritual"? I'm somewhat reluctant to use that term, and I don't know why.
Is "spirituality" to "religion" what the "spirit," or "soul," or "life," is to the body? True essence or inner power? Maybe. If we want it to be so.
"Religion" is much broader than theism; I suspect there can be something like "non-religious spirituality", yet I fail to see exactly what it is. Often when people talk about this I can still see "religion" in them. But again, this is not a bad word in my book.
I would certainly not identify "spirituality" (or "religion," for that matter) to morality or speculative thinking. What I used to love in religion I now tend to find wandering on the borders of language and reason. Where words end into and spring from silence, as in "love" or "contemplation"; more of ek-stasis than intro-spection to me. If I try to define it I'm back into the realm of language and reason, and I am unable to express it. The best I find myself able to do is using religious language metaphorically.
I don't know how this can relate to the discussion, but in French "spirituel" is polysemic: it means either "spiritual" or "witty". Never both at the same time...
...... but in French "spirituel" is polysemic: it means either "spiritual" or "witty". Never both at the same time...
....that is, until a few months ago, when Six came to Paris.