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TOPIC: Spiritual vs religious (or neither)

Spiritual vs religious (or neither) 17 Mar 2012 02:08 #5989

What does it mean to you if someone says "I'm spiritual but not religious"?

Does "religious" to you always imply that the person belongs to an organized religion, while "spiritual" means they don't belong to or follow an organized tradition, but make their own mix of things? or something else?

Would it be confusing if someone said "I don't belong to any institutionalized tradition/organized religion, but I'm very religious"?

The other day I said to someone that the deeper things go in my practice, the more "religious" I feel. Because I think for me that the word "religious" carries more of a sense of reverence and awe (which is something I experience) while saying "I feel so spiritual" seems like a sort of "pop-lite" way of saying I am not particularly committed to any practice and just dabble around with this and that.

But I don't think that's necessarily how other people read the terms. Might be more clear to others if I just say "I feel such a humility, reverence and awe sometimes, that the word 'spiritual' doesn't seem sufficient." ??

Thoughts?
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Spiritual vs religious (or neither) 17 Mar 2012 11:52 #5990

I take it to mean "I feel the deeper connected, open, and compassionate feeling of religion/spirituality, but I can't endorse myths nor prejudice nor can I abdicate my personal power to others that think they deserve authority for no good reason. I don't deny that the religious feeling has merit and validity, but the expression of it by institutions often falls short in many ways and I can't pretend I don't see it."

"Spirituality" is the last refuge of the narcissist, the last stop before realizing the extent of one's vanity, which is why it has taken on some flighty connotations. It's like adolesence. "Religious" can be childish (ignorance, sheepish following of authority) or adult (deep understanding of spirituality and how to manifest it in life and community). You know what I mean?
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Spiritual vs religious (or neither) 17 Mar 2012 16:10 #5991

Interesting-- if stringent-- view, Shargrol. I can't say I disagree, but the edges are sharp enough to warrant handling with care.

I'm interpolating to think that Dzogchen [by whatever name] represents maturity: the indivisibility of all of life from compassionate practice and enlightened View? What the intentionally low-key Zen and Daoists refer to as 'nothing special'--?

With such a view, paradoxically, I imagine there's no need to stress the distinction between religion and spirituality-- along with no need to distinguish them from the rest of life.

[weird how my thoughts like to form these circling eddies, these days]
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Spiritual vs religious (or neither) 17 Mar 2012 16:30 #5992

Kate, you drift in like a mist, mysterious yet refreshing. :D

It's true, from a certain perspective it doesn't mean much to make such distinctions. Clearly my use of the word "religious" the other day felt uncomfortable for the person I was talking to, bringing up a bunch of associations that weren't what I intended by it.

Shargrol, I see what you're saying and I think it's more or less what I was thinking about in my above post.
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Spiritual vs religious (or neither) 17 Mar 2012 17:01 #5993

'mysterious yet refreshing'-- or 'dazed and confused'?-- YOU decide! The operative word, no doubt, is 'drift...'

I have been commuting by bus, this week; although it's more tiring in some ways, it leaves my mind free to range. And, strangely, where it has gone most recently is what is the difference between thought and belief? Preliminary thoughts are about the heightened emotional/bodily characteristics of belief as compared to thought's more cool, noncommittal qualities. But I stray from the topic at hand...
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Spiritual vs religious (or neither) 17 Mar 2012 22:02 #5994



Interesting-- if stringent-- view, Shargrol. I can't say I disagree, but the edges are sharp enough to warrant handling with care.


-kategowen

Dig! and totally agree. No need to hate the acorn if you love the tree and vice versa.
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Spiritual vs religious (or neither) 17 Mar 2012 22:31 #5995

Right! Is the tree the acorn's way of making more acorns? Or is the acorn the tree's way of making more trees?

And, appreciating the system-- who cares?
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Spiritual vs religious (or neither) 17 Mar 2012 22:51 #5996

Hm. We tend to prioritize things that are larger or more persistent don't we? The tree is larger and has a longer lifespan that we do. The acorn is more noticeably transient, growing, falling and being eaten within a few months. The human-centric worldview.
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Spiritual vs religious (or neither) 18 Mar 2012 16:15 #5997

Well now, this is timely....

I was at a dinner party last night and it was attended by a friend who's a Buddhist. He's a been a Buddhist for many years. He's a religious Buddhist, not a spiritual Buddhist. So he got in to a story about a wayward, well meaning, starving artist relative of his and her karma. To him karma meant that if she always had good intentions she'd be okay and be reincarnated successfully after she dies. This got me into some trouble - he kept looking at me (he knows I practice) and seemed to be wanting me to approve. I just can't lie very well so I shook my head in the horizontal direction, meaning "no."

So, yeah, we had to talk/argue about this for quite some time, with me explaining cause and effect sans agency and him insisting on his orthodoxy.

Should I have kept quiet and let it go? Or, as I did, should I have spoken up when asked and offered my opinion?

Religion!
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Spiritual vs religious (or neither) 18 Mar 2012 17:01 #5998

I was camping at a music festival once with a wonderful friend. Raised Catholic, she was going through a midlife religious /spiritual reassment. She knew I meditated and at that time I was doing a lot of one day retreats at SFSZ.
So, she was very interested in my thoughts on things.
At one point I said, "I'm certain there is no God or heaven or hell and that we seem to constantly appear from nothing and anything else is just stories we make up in our minds."

Interestingly, she'd never heard anything like that before and was shocked and fascinated at such ideas. We had a lot of great talks that week.
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Spiritual vs religious (or neither) 18 Mar 2012 17:36 #5999

I was also thinking that I don't seem to ever hear "I'm religious but not spiritual."

Most of my religious experience has been in churches that had a strong spiritual component. First, as a child in evangelical churches with lots of praying and various practices to connect with"spirit."

And then as an adult in the very new testament oriented church of the brethren (descendents and literally cousins of the pacifist Amish and Mennonites). There, each service began with a conscious evoking of the prescence of the holy spirit with moments of prayer throughout to keep the connection going. Plus, an integral part of church life was group meditation.

I know there are churches out there full of non spiritual members, (religious not spiritual) but I think maybe for most seriously religious Christians at least it would be odd to separate the two aspects.
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Spiritual vs religious (or neither) 18 Mar 2012 19:30 #6000

I don't know: maybe-- if attempting to distance themselves from 'secular' spiritual types-- folks in the religious right would insist on the distinction? A bunch of politicians spring immediately to mind...

I think that there are probably plenty of folks who want something more like politics/ 'the letter of the Law' than 'the Spirit' of anything from their religious life. It's quite possible we are a tinier minority than we imagine. I can't point to evidence either way-- but that's how I read the zeitgeist, when I attend to it at all.
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Spiritual vs religious (or neither) 18 Mar 2012 20:56 #6001

Thanks Kate, I guess I'm going out on a limb here. I really think that many modern day Buddhist converts/practioners as well as those who describe themselves as "spiritual and not religious" don't really get how spiritual Christianity really is for most Christians, especially the people on the religious right. As long as one believes in God/Jesus and actually has some kind of personal relationship with same and prays every now and then -- that's spiritual, isn't it? Maybe not "spiritual" in the sense that a lot of us and the people we tend to relate to think of the word, but it is certainly a live lived with a believe in something non-material to which they are connected.

Those "mega churches" that reportedly house all those right wing conservative christians who favor Santorum,etc. are very spiritual places full of prayer, conversion experiences, and evangelical/speaking in tongues type experiences happen in some of those places, and, the music is very moving to the people in a very spiritual way. A friend of mine who is not religious at all went to a Modesto mega church just out of curiosity and was shocked at the level of spiritual fervor in the service (I think this is really the main reason why these places ARE so popular -- it's freaking FUN to feel the spirit go up and down your spine in a large group of like-minded people)
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Spiritual vs religious (or neither) 18 Mar 2012 21:14 #6002

This begs the question, "What is spirituality?"

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