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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Is it possible to be not religious but still spiritual?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25799 points ) August 28th, 2012

Can one believe in transcendence without the weight of dogma?

Can a person believe in a realm untouchable by our five senses and not call it by any of the religious names in use today?

Can belief and doubt coexist?

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21 Answers

Nullo's avatar

Certainly, but you end up looking too vague to be taken seriously.
Which is not to say that you don’t run into doubt in religions. That’s where we get our factions in Christianity from: doubting the dogma, returning to the source material. Or the reverse, in the case of the UCC which has scrapped the Bible in favor of social activism.

zenvelo's avatar

Yes, and many people live that way. I know of many people in recovery movements that have developed a personal sense of spirituality or connection to a higher power, that may be a force, or a being or some other concept that has nothing to do with a heritage book, or story, or description.

Belief systems go way back in human history. All primitive cultures have a way of dealing with the wonder one encounters when living in the natural world. For instance, Animism is really just respecting the life force of nature, and connecting how that life force came about and how we can each relate to it. These belief systems predate the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita.

And they avoid such minute detail that makes everyone else think you are a crackpot.

ninja_man's avatar

I find myself in that camp. Something is out there, I just don’t think anyone has a monopoly on it.

As far as belief and doubt are concerned: I have had cause to doubt my own thoughts recently, and am still recovering from that experience. I still believe that there is something more, I simply doubt (or am skeptical) of my own reasons for believing that.

Coloma's avatar

Sure it is. I am not religious but I consider myself “spiritual” which simply means recognizing the interconnectedness of all life regardless of the creation/evolution debate.
The building blocks of all life originate from one universal source, and all life forms are equal IMO. Whether we evolve as a human or a trout or a donkey or an oak tree, the building blocks of all life forms remain the same.

Our molecules may be arranged a little differently, but, life is life, and ALL life originates from the same source. This is the essence of what it means to say one is “spiritual” IMO.

serenade's avatar

“The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao.”

syz's avatar

I don’t believe that spirituality and religion are even the same thing.

CWOTUS's avatar

Good question, and something I’ve wondered about myself. I’m not sure that I’d call the term “spiritual” for an atheist, though.

I’m an atheist, but it doesn’t follow from that belief that I think “everything in the world is just chemistry and physics, action and reaction”. I don’t believe that we have “souls” or “spirits” that exist apart from our bodies, though I also don’t believe that we are “just our bodies”. Thoughts transcend bodies, but they don’t seem to exist without bodies.

I’m not spiritual, just thoughtful. And only occasionally.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I’m pretty spiritual and I consider religion to be one of man’s largest fallacies.

flutherother's avatar

Yes, because if it were not possible then no religion could ever have got started. All the founders of religions have is a vision of God that eventually condenses into religion. Belief and doubt go together like light and dark. The one without the other has no meaning.

tups's avatar

Sure, religion is an institution. Faith, spirituality etc. is free. You don’t have to belong to a certain religion to have faith. You can just believe in what you believe in, whatever that is.

Paradox25's avatar

According to the teachings of several alleged spiritual entities whom had communicated with various mediums over the years spirituality is all about being kind, compassionate, and in service to others without the expectation of some reward. Yes, you can be spiritual without being religious, since religion is a manmade construct for the most part.

Actually many religious people can be quite the opposite of spiritual, and many nonreligious people or nontheists can be much more spiritual than the religious. To me it is our actions, and the motivations behind them that matter the most, not what you believe that makes one ‘spiritual’.

augustlan's avatar

Sure. You can even outright believe in god(s) without adhering to any religion. God(s) would be a natural phenomena, while religions are a man-made support/control structure built around god(s).

As an atheist, I still feel entirely connected to the universe. I acknowledge that there are many things that happen that we don’t have an explanation for (and that fill me with awe), but I assume they are all natural occurrences and will eventually have a natural (as opposed to supernatural) explanation.

wundayatta's avatar

Of course, it is. I have no religion and think religions are very problematic, but I consider myself a very spiritual person. I don’t spirituality is in a transcendant realm though. I think spirituality is that sense of connection with something larger than yourself. It is a sense. That doesn’t mean it is something scientifically verifiable. It means it happens inside our selves.

That also means it is probably different for everyone. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t have a problem with anything that no one else can see, so long as you don’t claim it is true for anyone but you.

Pandora's avatar

Yes. Why not?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’m very spiritual, but I haven’t found any religion I can identify with. I think all things living are special. My S/O is a huge animal lover and can’t stand the site of an animal killed by a car. I say a prayer evey time I bury one. Plus I think hopes and prayers can help someone in need. I think most organized religion just wants to control what I and others think and do. That’s a load of crap to me.

fremen_warrior's avatar

There can be many ways to reach a destination and the same seems to be true of spirituality. A religion can give you guidance, or it can mislead you, it all depends on what version you are presented with. I think it is easier to become a truly spiritual person without a religious framework, because then you are free to really explore weithout dogmatic constraints.

The one crucial ingredient in this process is being honest (with yourself) and forgiving of your mistakes.

Keep_on_running's avatar

Absolutely. That’s close to how I’d describe myself. Open-minded about life and existence. Not following any pre-written script.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@fremen_warrior Has a very good couple of points. It’s possible, but in some ways harder than following a framework. You don’t read a book and say oh that’s what I’m supposed to do. You have to make almost all of your own decisions and if you screwup there is no one you ask to forgive you.. You look in the mirror and say nice move dumbass. Then try to learn from it and move on.

tups's avatar

@Keep_on_running Very well said, I just realized that’s pretty much how I feel too.

CWOTUS's avatar

I guess if you get to define “spiritual” in any way that you want that has nothing to do with “soul” or “disembodied entity of a person” (in other words, a definition that has nothing to do with religion), then anyone can claim a spiritual mantle. So you’re spiritual just because you define yourself to be.

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