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RedDeerGuy1's avatar

What does it mean to be spiritual and not religious?

Asked by RedDeerGuy1 (13215points) March 5th, 2018

Also what does it mean to be not spiritual or religious? I was asked that in my dating sites and am trying to figure out where I fit.

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13 Answers

cookieman's avatar

I think it means that while you do not subscribe to any one religion, you do feel that there are aspects to this reality that we cannot sense or understand with science.

rockfan's avatar

Being spiritual usually means that you believe that energy or the supernatural exists, but don’t follow a particular dogma.

zenvelo's avatar

A spiritual person has a belief system that involves a Higher Power (the Divine, the Cosmos, The Force, or God), and may practice various things (good works, meditation, prayer) so as to align one’s life with the Higher Power.

A religious person follows what was a spiritual path that has been adopted by a community of beleivers who craft a dogma that proscribes certain behaviors, and has other behaviors to be in line with the dogma.

To be “not spirtual” means to not have an inclination to a Higehr Power involved in one’s life.

To be “not religious” means to not be part of an organized religion.

rojo's avatar

GA @zenvelo.

So, it is possible for someone to be spiritual and not religious.

And, unfortunately, the opposite is also true; there are many out there who are religious but not spiritual. They adapt and follow the dogma without understanding or acting in accord with of the basis of their belief system.

LostInParadise's avatar

On the last U.S. census, nearly a quarter of the population listed their religion as “None”. Since only a small proportion of them are atheists or agnostics, that would account for a large number of people who are spiritual but not religious.

I am not certain whether you have to believe in God to be spiritual. Without belief in God, you can still be awed by the magnificence of the universe, and believe in our connectedness and obligation to nature and the rest of humanity, particularly those most in need. Does that count as spirituality? How would you categorize these guys? What about those Unitarians who are openly agnostic or atheistic?

I don’t want to engage in am argument over semantics, but it seems to me that what matters for spirituality is our concern for what is physically out there, and that belief in a deity should not be a deciding factor.

KNOWITALL's avatar

For me, being spiritual is a belief in certain things or even many things, but religion is adherence to a certain set of rules for one religion.

janbb's avatar

@LostInParadise You do know that some Unitarians believe in a god and some are atheists, don’t you? It wasn’t clear from your statement. You are right in that Unitarianism is not a creedal religion in which beliefs are dictated. I agree that one does not have to believe in a deity or higher power to be spiritual, it is more that one believes in the connectedness of all life and that one is searching for meaning in the universe and not totally bound by materialistic or scientific beliefs.

Zaku's avatar

spiritual: relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.

religious: relating to or believing in a system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.

@zenvelo ‘s answer is good, especially the last two lines.

I however would not use the term “higher power”. Spirituality can also just mean relating to the human spirit, or non-human spirits, or nature or the universe without thinking of it as a higher power. In particular it may involve recognizing your own spirit as on par with all other spirits, or the master of its own experience and views (and possibly in a sense as god-like as anything else), a sense of connection with all things, tuning into intuition, tuning into one’s own consciousness and noticing it isn’t the same thing at all as your material body or your thoughts, etc etc etc all having nothing to do with religion and not necessarily having anything to do with a “higher power”.

And in contrast to what @rockfan wrote about belief in energy or the supernatural, spirituality can also simply be awareness and attention given to one’s experiences or impressions or intuitions or reflections or feelings or consciousness and separating them from material and physical things and ego attachments, and so on, without needing to invoke any sort of “belief” or “supernatural” anything.

And in contrast to what @cookieman wrote, spirituality doesn’t specifically need to be framed as being in conflict with knowing, sensing, or science. Some specific spiritual ideas may be about such things, but not all of them are, and that’s not generally the point of the ones that are.

@rojo No one needs to believe in God to be spiritual. Those Philadelphia Ethical Society guys I would call subscribers to a particular ethical philosophy. The web site says they are a religion but that some of them think of it not as a religion but a philosophy. I would say that there may be some of them who do not identify as spiritual, but that probably on some level most of them are, as valuing the spirits of others probably stems from empathy for the spiritual experience of others, whether they’d choose to use that word for it or not.

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RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@all thanks

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