Spiritual but not religious.

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    Jun 06, 2007 7:20 AM GMT
    Okay, so this is not a particularly gay topic, but here's my deal: I was raised in what would be considered a religious background, but don't believe or put much stock in my Christian background anymore and consider myself neither spiritual nor relgious. Personally I'm amused by the statement "I'm spiritual, but not religious" because for one I think it mimics the current trend in evangelical Christianity to focus on the spirit, and not other aspects of Christianity. Two I know what spiritual means within a religious context, have seen this and experienced it within religion, but feel that most of the time out of the religious conext it means something vague and insubstantive. So I want to see what you think. What do you mean when you say "I'm spiritual, but not religious" Also I don't think Easetern beliefs count as these are religions as old or older than the judeo/christian background.
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    Jun 06, 2007 8:42 AM GMT
    I feel spriritual but not religious. I have read books on many beliefs, followed a few. I've kind of pieced what I found to be the best of them together and created my own spiritual path that I walk alone. It works for me.

    I do belong officially to a new age church I've been in for nearly 40 years, Eckankar. I do like the freedom it gives to explore and make your own way. Spiritual exercise to leave the body and have my own personal experiences. When it's said and done and I've studied another faith, Eckankar is where I always come back to. It has it's bullshit like any other faith. I think the key to any faith is to finally learn to separate the crap from the gold. they all have some of each.

    Some poeple like to follow, some like to lead and some like to explore on their own. Soom do a little of each.

    If it works for a person you'll see it active in his life. If not, you'll see him pretending it is working.
  • RSportsguy

    Posts: 1927

    Jun 06, 2007 9:24 AM GMT
    I believe in God or a Higher power if you will. My God is one who loves, not one who hates. I don't believe in the Bible or at least its millions of translations handed down year by year. I pray for my family and friends on a daily basis. It gives me a 'calming' feeling.
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    Jun 06, 2007 10:35 AM GMT
    This is exactly how I am: I am spiritual but not religious.

    I believe in a God, a higher being, one who is omnipotent and omniscient. I believe in an afterlife, but I don't believe in the Devil and the Bible's concept of Hell.

    To me, Hell is Earth. I believe we are sent here with a map all planned out of "what to do". The thing that gets in the way is Earth, which is a mixture of both good and very bad things. So, Earth is our Hell.

    I never believed in the Devil because no one in a church would ever answer the question, "How can God have an opponent? If he's so powerful, why would the Devil exist anyway? Couldn't God just eliminate him?".

    I believe Jesus existed and died, but not as how the Bible depicts it. There are so many things that Catholics originally took out (and added) into the Bible to cater to what they deemed to be acceptable. Yes, what I believe is highly controversial, but it makes a lot of logical sense. The Bible however, makes no real sense.

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    Jun 06, 2007 12:58 PM GMT
    For me, religion is about ego/mind being addicted to beliefs and dogmas about spirit, while spirituality is about awakening to our true identity as spirit. And, yes, there are certainly beliefs and dogmas about awakening, but they are merely tools, like a finger pointing at the moon. However, once the moon is recognized, the finger is no longer needed.
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    Jun 06, 2007 2:40 PM GMT
    Interesting. I always like to say that I'm Religious, but I'm not particularly Spiritual. I ask way too many questions to be Spiritual, and I like things to be clear and simple. So when people talk about "seeking the Truth within" or whatever, my inclination is to respond, "What are you talking about? Where exactly within? And how did it get there? And what if the Truth I find within is in conflict with your Truth within? How do we decide whose Truth within is right? And if it's relative, then it's not really the Truth, is it?"

    But I like ritual, and I like community, and I like sitting in a room with people who have different backgrounds and perspectives and asking questions together, questions that don't necessarily have answers. And I like Mystery: being open to things that cannot be explained, they just are.

    And I like being called to be a good, honest, kind, compassionate, giving, gentle, forgiving man. And I like to think that God is on my side rooting for me as I struggle to be that man.

    I'm an Episcopalian, and have been my whole life. (Although for awhile I attended a Mennonite Church and went to Roman Catholic services when I was in college.) Mostly that's worked well for me, and no one has ever given me a hard time about being Queer.
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    Jun 06, 2007 2:55 PM GMT
    "And if it's relative, then it's not really the Truth, is it?"

    Exactly! In the realm of duality, of ever-changing relative existence, there is no absolute truth.
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    Jun 06, 2007 5:33 PM GMT
    When I say that I am spiritual but not religious I mean exactly that. I can care about my spirit, my after life, my soul without being dominated or oppressed by some creed that may not be even 10 percent true.I believe in spiritual things, I believe that there is more to us than our physical selves, but I cannot support religion. Religion is just a tool man has used for years to dominate others.

    Its hilarious when people justify their religion by saying its not oppressive, that everyone has a choice. But that choice is a lot like hitler's when you think about it. Follow me or suffer.

    I just think that we already don't know shit, pardon my French, about our own planet and ourselves, so what truly makes people think that they have life figured out or the after life or even god?

    thats what religion really is, people trying to say that they have figured it out. Its like a weight loss strategy, some say eat grapefruit, some say barf, some say exercise. You know? Religion just says, this is what we believe we have to do to be spiritually healthy and obtain eternal peace.

    Saying we are spiritual but not religious states that we follow our own ideas. That we aren't going to follow some tired regime simply because millions have and our parents raised us to. I doubt any god will turn his back someone who truly tries to do good in his life and thats what I do.

    My god is not human unlike so many others. He doesn't snap, he doesn't kill, he doesn't seek revenge. Thats the issue, every issue people have they put off on their god to justify it and thats just sickening.
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    Jun 06, 2007 6:10 PM GMT
    "Spiritual but not religious" usually is meant to suggest that the believer doesn't subscribe to institutionalized religion's dogma.

    At one point in my writing life, I worked the so-called New Age beat. I heard this phrase to a maddening extent and what it really does is substitute personal growth for communitarian values. The average New Age-esque church, for example, has no program to assist the poor. Instead they offer them classes in "prosperity thinking." Just about every problem is a failure of thinking -- a version of "The Secret" to one extent or another. As such, many of these "spiritual" organizations are more fundamentalist- minded than the traditional churches.

    Magical thinking replaces mystery, banal practices like "positive affirmations" replace ritual, the entire imaginal and aesthetic aspect of religion is replaced by an iconography of unicorns and chakras and a punitive language of feel-good bromides.

    I'm not crazy about religion, to say the least, but a movement like liberation theology in South America or the classic Islamic sect of Sufism have far more depth than the usual New Age spirituality. Whether the traditional churches can be rescued from their decadence is another question.

  • gymingit

    Posts: 156

    Jun 06, 2007 6:29 PM GMT

    In this way, I do have my beliefs in God and it's more about FAITH. I also believe in Christ, his son. That said, there are a lot of professed Christians out there that do not practice what they preach. That is, Christianity.

    Now, I don't have a problem with anyones religious beliefs because I believe what works for them is what's best. Due to the fact I believe in living a Christian like life, I would say most of my friends that are atheist, Muslim, Jew and whatever else, are some of the most Christian like people I know.

    Most religions are monotheistic, meaning believing in one God. Though most would say you don't believe in mine, I don't understand why God can't be one and the same regardless.

    I believe in intentions as in how and why you did something towards or for an individual. I believe in God with all my heart, mind & soul and love my neighbors as myself. You really can't go wrong in that way.

    So, I never judge an individuals beliefs and that's why I have so many friends of all different faiths.

    I will end by saying, I am very confidant as a gay man because my faith is so strong.

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    Jun 06, 2007 7:03 PM GMT
    I am fully convinced that we can never fully understand the concept of what we call by the very impersonal name of “God” with the human mind; it is not capable of processing that amount of information. - Yet there are countless religions completely convinced that they can and do.
    I believe religions are like children’s stories told to the human brain so it can begin to grasp even a billionth of this immense concept.
    “Once upon a time, there was a man named Adam, or Krishna, or Moses etc…” - Stories told to our childlike minds of what God could possibly be, and somehow simplify the process, but in actual fact are only very vague representations, pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, or blurred images of something that we can never fully understand with our wonderful yet limited minds.
    Check out the movie "What the Bleep Do We Know"
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    Jun 06, 2007 9:42 PM GMT
    Well if you really want to get up to speed you aren't spiritual or religious any more ....you are "a person of Faith" The left needs more than just liberal votes to win the next election so atheists have found "faith" as an exceptable description of their beliefs when looking for votes south of the mason /dixon line.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Jun 06, 2007 11:27 PM GMT
    I'm not sure if being a gay man has made me come to this conclusion faster than I would have
    but there has been more evil done in the name of religion throughout history and right now as we speak than anything I can think of...
    the discrimination
    ...the hatred
    ...the inhumanity
    that is bred by the supposed believers
    makes me wonder about there even being a higher power
    in whose name is all this murderous rampage and moral selfrighteousness done ?
    Being raised a Christian I left the church a long time ago
    and right now you can count me in on one of those atheists who are going to hell :)
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    Jun 06, 2007 11:34 PM GMT
    Ah yes, the "person of faith" so safe and bland, but utterly unrevealing and devoid of specifics.
    Yes, I know obscenewish that it usually refers to a person who doesn't follow an organized religion, but since when did a person's sycretistic set of personal beliefs become inherently spiritual, and somehow superior to the beliefs of an institution or community? And while the new agers may be fond of the phrase, as you can see from some of the posts they aren't the only ones who have latched onto it -- and in some cases the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree.
    Most religions are monotheistic? Really? While Christianity and Islam, in their various forms, may have the largest amounts of followers in the world, there are many religions that are not monotheistic -- the religions of India and East Asia, for example or the traditional religions of Africa, Australia and the Americas. And while Muslims have usually respected Christianity for its roots in Judaism, and hold Jesus to be a prophet, they have problems with the Christian belief of the trinity and don't necessarily consider Christianity a monotheism.
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    Jun 07, 2007 1:46 PM GMT
    Amazingly there are only 4 things which have separated humanity since time began:
    Racism - due to shades of skin color
    Nationalism - this bit of dirt belongs to me and that bit of dirt belongs to you
    Politics - various forms of controlling the masses
    Religion - no scientific proof to any of them - great or small
    These 4 have bred almost nothing but intolerance, prejudice, self -righteousness, hatred, violence, wars, and a morbid list too long to name.
    In fact humans have murdered over 100 million of our own species in the last century alone under the primal flag-waving of the above mentioned.
    This does not take into account the mental, emotional/physical violence, torture and pain that are continually inflicted because of these.

    Yet every single human being on the planet can cross any psychological or physical border and;
    Fall in love
    Love their children
    Love their families
    Love their friends
    Love their neighbors
    Why on earth can’t we simply forget the rest?
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    Jun 07, 2007 2:43 PM GMT
    I'm spiritual but not religious. I believe in something outside of our very existence, something that can't be percieved with our five senses. I also believe in the idea of a "force" that balances the universe, which may or may not care about humanity and our dealings.

    I also believe in the idea of a "soul" or at least something more than just our physicalities. Something more "permanent" than the things we have. Maybe its an ego centric belief but I can't imagine that all our dreams, memories, ideals, experiences, etc. would simply be forever lost to time.

    But I'm not religious. I don't belong to any organized religion and I never will. While I do admire some of the people who spawned the religious movements (for example: Jesus of Nazareth and Sidharta, etc.) and some of their greater followers (Ghandi for example), I could never involve myself with any because the majority (though NOT all) have really lost the true teachings of these people and no longer really stand for anything.

    Religion, to me, can be like training wheels on a bike. It's an easy way to start but to use them forever defeats the purpose. I think that once after, religion can become a superficial way of finding answers rather than seeking them yourself (even if you find that there is no answer or come to the conclusion that there is nothing beyond what we can percieve, it's your own answer and that is the whole point).

    It's difference between being told about the moon and actually ACTIVELY seeking to understand it yourself and explore it (though, because it is something intagible, the spectrum of exploration is massive and almost unlimited).

    Don't get me wrong. I don't hate religions. Some of them have made some good contributions to the world and religion HAS inspired some incredible works of art and architechture.
    And although that doesn't make up for the flaws (or for some of the horrible crimes commited against humanity in the name of religion), at least they have done some positive things.

    To me though, most religions have a too strong a black and white view of "right" and "wrong," of "universal truths," and obessions with ritualism.

    Personally, I have never felt that any of that could ever lead to liberation of the "spirit" or the inner-self. I feel that ritualism and
    such harsh/unyielding views of the world cause stagnation and actually go as far as to sabotage a person's growth in many cases. I think religion, in most cases, is quite the oppesate of spiritualism. Hence why, I would say that yes, it's possible to be spiritual but not at all religious.
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    Jun 07, 2007 6:21 PM GMT
    The liberation of the "spirit"? What does that mean and to what and from what or where? I mean that is one of those phrases that sounds nice and grand, but has little meaning as anyone can talk about "liberating the spirit" -- very religious people talk all the time about liberating the spirit. If you are talking about personal growth, that is good and all, but not by nature spiritual.
    And why is ritual automatically labled as something bad? Personally I don't see it as either bad or good, it is something neutral. You may like it or dislike it, but the value it holds is what you imbue it with. Yes, it may be stiffling for some, but it is also what delineates the sacred from the profane.
    And besides maybe a sense of satisfaction, what difference does it make if your answers for life are ones "own" or come from a religion? Does it make a you happier more succesful more fulfilled, or nicer or more caring or even more spiritual person? Not that I have seen. There are plenty of good religious people and plenty bad and plenty good and bad who are not religious. To me the difference between those who are "relgious" and those who say they are "religious but not spiritual" are minimal at best. I would say there are people who are religious and spiritual and people who are not religious and spiritual, but that a set of beliefs whether within a religion or not, and it seems that most of the beliefs expressed here seem culled from one religion or another, does not make a person inherently spiritual.
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    Jun 07, 2007 7:03 PM GMT
    I, like many of the people in this thread, too have a very religious family. This is no surprise considering I grew up smack dab in the middle of Missouri. Midwesterners do love their religions. Haha.

    Growing up none of it ever made any sense to me. I've always been way too mature for my age, and with that I was unable to simply take on faith that what I was being told was absolute truth...and as I found the true nature of myself and that I was gay without ever having had any choice in the matter, finding out that it was looked down upon made me wonder why a God would ever make me something that he doesn't want me to be? I have a hard time believing that being Gay is a test. If that were true then why wouldn't everyone start out that way? Everyone has their struggles and battles, but to have to force yourself to try and be something other than what you are is just impossible to comprehend. If you can't be true to yourself, who can you be true to?

    So anyway, I admit I'm a Sci-Fi nerd, and am very much into science and nature. I like that if you have a question about something, it can be found with enough time and experience. My biggest problem with religion is that the only answers you will ever find are found in books written by HUMAN BEINGS. That'd be all well and good if I knew that all humans were perfectly capable of being selfless and honest, but I know many decisions and facts about religion were found because the people who decided upon them wanted to use them to achieve their own goals.

    I believe at the heart of every religion there is a desire to help people and provide them with a way to live their life the best way they can, but to me that's all religion is. A set of rules for people who don't know how to guide themselves. They need someone to tell them how to be good, because without that they're afraid they won't know how.

    It's too bad that religion is used to make so many bad decisions. Starting wars. Persecuting those who are different. If so many bad things weren't done in the name of religion maybe we wouldn't even be having this discussion...

    But such is not the case, and as long as we are all left to make our own decisions of what to believe and what not to believe, our answers are going to be as varied as the people asking the questions.
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    Jun 07, 2007 7:35 PM GMT
    Has anyone seen the film "What the Bleep Do We Know?" - Check it out - very very good food for thought
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    Jun 08, 2007 1:08 PM GMT
    I am Episcopalian, too--and I like the idea that we are "religious but not spiritual." I think that ritual and community prayer are essential to my faith. It's a place I can build my relationship with Jesus. But I don't understand a lot of it, and I don't worry about how the people praying with me understand any of it. We're all in the dark, talking to God. I think that ritual and community and sacrament are the way I have deep contact with Christ, but I don't know what I believe about them at any given time. I just try to show up.
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    Jun 08, 2007 6:01 PM GMT
    I think 'spiritual, but not religious' might also mean agnostic.

    ag·nos·tic (n)
    1) a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.

    OR a simpler definition...

    2) A. One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.

    B. One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.

    When people ask, that is what I tell them. This is the same reason I think the Bible cannot be accepted as the direct word of the so-called 'God' because, as other people pointed out, it was written by humans and trascribed & translated innumerable times. Ever play telephone as a child? You get the idea...
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    Jun 08, 2007 6:31 PM GMT
    When people say "I'm spiritual, not religious", I think a lot of them simply want to have their cake and eat it too. Our ever-increasing knowledge as a species, especially in the sciences, has rendered religious dogma absurd. Before Darwin it might have been easy to believe that all people on Earth are the descendants of two human beings. But now? Give me a break. You have to be willfully ignorant to believe that's even possible.

    At this point science has reduced every religious text to swiss cheese, poking hole after hole in religion's so-called truths. So what's a believer to do? If someone identifies him/her-self as "religious", that suggests belief in some religious dogma, an adherence to some rigid prescribed belief system that cannot remain standing under even cursory scientific scrutiny. A "spiritual" identiy, however, is more fluid. Being "spiritual" allows the person to reject the obvious absurdities of religion while still believing in the God model.

    As an atheist, I view the "spiritual" identity as a good thing (not the best thing, obviously, but a good one). It's one step closer to rejecting the absurdity of deity worship altogether. It also signifies the loosening of religion's grip on society as a whole.
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    Jun 08, 2007 6:48 PM GMT
    While I don't doubt an agnostic can be spiritual, I don't see a direct link between the two. Agnosticism is a belief about god, but how is that by nature spiritual? I think the same goes for a belief in god: I find neither belief nor non belief in god to be inherently spiritual. I would describe myself as agnostic -- I don't know if there is a god, maybe there is maybe there is not, I just do not see much evidence for him in my day to day life, and do not think it would change much in it if he did or did not exist. My peeve is that people assume a set of beliefs outside of an oragnized religion counts as spirituality. Belief is belief and whether you belong to an organization or not people have beliefs, and organize them in some sort of personal fashion, but just because you believe, within or without an organization, that I think says little about whether one is spiritual or not.
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    Jun 08, 2007 9:35 PM GMT
    Religion is an expression of spirituality, but it does not encompass the totality of how the sprit expresses itself. Religion is a group of tenant and beliefs, certain cosmology that explain the universe, it nature, and our role on earth.

    Spirituality is different depending on the person, cultures, and other factors. Spirituality differs from religion in the sense that it has a broader awareness. Spirituality is about connecting to self and our sacred source. For me at least, its understanding the divine is present with each person, intrinsically connected to them (unlike in Christian cultures were the spirt and mind are consider to be from different worlds). Through these connections we are connected to each other, nature, and the cosmos. Everything is connect in a skien in which we all have to work together for the benefit of the whole.

    It not so much about rules, but what you feel inside.
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    Jun 08, 2007 10:10 PM GMT
    Nicely stated, Harlequin!