Deeper Perception Made Practical

Spiritual But Not Religious?

Rosetree Energy Spirituality appeals to some who are religious, to others who are spiritual but not religious. I'm curious about YOU.

Rosetree Energy Spirituality appeals to some who are religious, to others who are spiritual but not religious. I’m curious about YOU.

When this article to my attention today, I found it so thought provoking. This part, for instance:

A Pew Research Center survey, published in November, revealed that millennials are less attached to organized religion than their parents or grandparents were at the same age, with only about 40 percent saying religion is very important in their lives.

However, the same survey revealed that about 80 percent of millennials believe in God and increasing numbers identify with statements like “I feel a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being” or “I experience a deep sense of wonder about the universe.”

You need not be a millennial to have passionate feelings about the distinction between being spiritual versus being religious.

Yes, the topic is personal. Yet I wonder if any of you might wish to share how you live these days.

Are you religious? Are you spiritual? Are you both?

And do any of you think the survey results may have anything to do with our living, now, in…

The Age of Awakening?



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  1. 1
    Kira says:

    I would definitely consider myself spiritual but not religious. I find religious ceremonies and rituals fascinating, and don’t mind participating in them, but I don’t feel I need them. And I know my beliefs are, shall we say, eclectic.

  2. 2
    Kira says:

    It’s interesting to see those statistics about millennials, and my first thought was that it made sense because of the Age of Awakening.

    Then, when you asked that question, my thought was, what are the people born into the Age of Awakening going to believe?

  3. 3
    Sarah says:

    Oh wow… What a topic, Rose! So glad you’ve brought it up…

    First of all, I’m not surprised by the figures quoted in the article, and (sadly) I’m also not surprised by the author’s explanation, although I think it is completely and totally off base.

  4. 4
    Sarah says:

    I can recall identifying with “spiritual but not religious” longggg before I had the terms for it, or would have even understood what they meant.

    As a kid, I had a strong sense of what I would now call spirituality, but I didn’t need a word for that because it was just how I lived my life. I didn’t even connect that sense to the sense that other people got (or wanted) from religion, since the two things seemed about as unrelated to me as breathing and learning to roller skate. I could easily decline the latter without giving up the former.

  5. 5
    Sarah says:

    I remember learning about different religions and feeling like, oh, these guys are all saying basically the same thing, but with a lot of bizarre ideas layered on top. And I never felt like I was “choosing from” different religions–they all seemed inaccessible to me, since I wasn’t going to be able to force myself to believe what they were telling me.

    I remember at age 12 or so, telling my friend that asking me to believe in hell was like asking me to believe the moon is made of cheese. Sure, I can proclaim that I believe that, but deep down I’m rolling my eyes. I can’t start believing something just because I decided so.

  6. 6
    Sarah says:

    This is why I find it somewhat insulting and laughable that the author of this article makes it seem like my generation is cherry picking… No way, man… From my perspective, there ain’t no cherries to pick, and my generation is simply pointing out that the cherry trees are naked (emperor’s new clothes style).

    But the trees themselves are actually pretty nice, don’t you think? Has anyone noticed the trees? (Haha)

    Of course this is just my perspective on it, and maybe there really are other people in my generation who feel the way he describes.

  7. 7
    Sarah says:

    And a final thought on the subject: a few years ago, I read a book by Lilian Daniel titled “When ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ Is Not Enough” because I was totally intrigued.

    For what it’s worth, I think she raises some excellent points. Although I might rephrase her sentiment as more like: when transcendence without embodiment is not enough. Or: choose human-based spirituality over self-absorbed spiritual addiction!

    From what I remember, her thesis was largely about folks who feel a deep spiritual connection, but don’t apply that to their lives in any way, such as in the form of moral action, charity, community, etc.

  8. 8
    Irene Kr says:

    Sarah, you could be describing my life in #4-6!

    I spent my childhood in organized religion and as an unskilled empath. I knew the differences between what people said and what they actually felt. It seemed to me like everyone was deeply hypocritical and/or in denial. That did not make religion seem very attractive.

  9. 9
    Irene Kr says:

    I also didn’t like the expectation that I was to shut off my brain and just accept what I was told to believe. I also objected when I ran into that in spirituality places later.

    I don’t much like (that is, I totally detest!) being told what to do unless I understand why it’s a good idea and am able to make up my own mind about it.

  10. 10
    Irene Kr says:

    I know someone who has remained connected to an organized religion because without it she doesn’t have the community support she needs to raise her children as a single parent.

    There’s a lot of concrete action that happens as a result of organized religion, some of that good (charity, community, support) and some of that not good (bigotry, terrorism).

  11. 11
    Irene Kr says:

    The idea of human-based spirituality resonates with me, in providing an outlet for both spiritual expansion (personal experiences with the Divine) AND an active engagement with human life (objective reality, connecting with others, taking action) as well as self-authority for me to choose the path that I need.

    I’m definitely a spiritual and not-religious one!

  12. 12
    Rachel says:

    I also definitely identify with being ‘spiritual,’ but not ‘religious,’ and still feel baffled by people who feel the need to assert that their religion is the one, true religion.

  13. 13
    Rachel says:

    Having said that, I also feel huge respect for organised religions, and I love the ritual and sense of history and solidity that those rituals provide.

    On the occasions that I attend a good church service, I do get something from listening to tried and tested creeds and prayers etc.

  14. 14
    Rachel says:

    Maybe the participation in a service belonging to a tradition whose roots stem back a couple of thousand years is a nice antidote to the flaky, make-it-up-as-you-go-along New Age spiritual addiction fashion.

  15. 15

    Wonderful observations, KIRA, SARAH, IRENE KR, RACHEL. Thank you all.

    Regarding that Comment #14, I think it’s only fair to note that today’s problems with spiritual addiction are not a result of New Age practices.

    Plenty of religious fundamentalists (in any religion) are in spiritual addiction as well. Some of you may remember my aura reading of Dr. Ben Carson, the presidential candidate, that was in my LAST newsletter.

  16. 16

    Then again, many religious believers today are in spiritual shutdown instead. Not any better for long-term growth, and yet also an educational experience while this persists.

    RACHEL, you have found your sweet spot — your way of living in human-based spirituality. No wonder you can take what helps you when going to churches, yet leave the rest behind.

  17. 17
    Sarah says:

    Ooh, Rachel, comments #13 and #14, yes! I agree with you there. As a kid (and some as an adult) I have enjoyed visiting different houses of worship, “trying on” different old traditions and enjoying the flavor of them (so to speak).

    Incidentally, as an unskilled empath with spiritual oneness, this wasn’t great for me… But it is much safer now that I know to stay on the surface, and I still enjoy it like you described. 🙂

  18. 18
    Sarah says:

    I wonder, also, if some of the make-it-up-as-you-go New Age types might be in spiritual shutdown as well. Not all, certainly, but I can imagine this opposite extreme happening as well.

  19. 19
    Sarah says:

    For instance: anyone who does yoga just for their butt (hahaha) or claims to “meditate” when what they really mean is that they’re going to sit quietly for a little while each day during their otherwise zany, zany lives.

  20. 20
    Sarah says:

    Absolutely nothing wrong with that!! Totally healthy to do, and I recommend it!

    But why call that “meditation” and not just “chilling for a little bit” or “taking a breather” or what have you?

  21. 21
    Sarah says:

    Admittedly, I’m no expert in meditation, but I suspect that it’s not quite the same thing as just sitting down for a few minutes by yourself at the end of a long day.

  22. 22
    Sarah says:

    And, incidentally, THOSE folks might be the ones to whom the author of this article is referring: the ones in spiritual shutdown. Unfortunate that for some reason he hasn’t noticed anyone in the other consciousness lifestyles. ?

  23. 23
    David B says:

    Yep, very spiritual but not so religeous. But I’ve studied world religions, even formally in grad school and considered becoming an Interfaith minister.

    From my perspective, most religions start from a lived experience. But as that falls away, it’s replaced with concepts, rules and beliefs. Those don’t typically bring one to the lived experience meaning they’ve lost their source.

  24. 24
    David B says:

    In the curious debate about identifying oneself as atheist, theist or agnostic what is completely left out is the gnostic.

    Debating about beliefs is near meaningless if there is no experience to back it up. And if there is experience, what does the question “do you believe in God?” mean? That’s like asking someone if they believe in strawberries. 🙂

  25. 25
    Lilian says:

    “From what I remember, her thesis was largely about folks who feel a deep spiritual connection, but don’t apply that to their lives in any way, such as in the form of moral action, charity, community, etc.”

  26. 26
    Lilian says:

    To me, this comment is critical. There’s something beautiful that happens when people align with each other in order to make certain things happen.

  27. 27
    Lilian says:

    Think of the role religion played when the Iron Curtain fell in Europe in 1991, after 50 years. Mostly peacefully.

    People really lent on the Catholic Church to find their courage.

    You may not know about this, I don’t know what US folk know about 20th century European history.

  28. 28
    Lilian says:

    (Eastern Europe is still really struggling and facing the reality of embracing freedom is not easy. The fussy conservatism of the Catholic Church (without John Paul) doesn’t help. Swings and roundabouts, eh?)

  29. 29
    Lilian says:

    Everyone is entitled to their private opinion at the same time as coordinating with others. You know, I don’t take Rose’s words as gospel either..

    And there are nuances that are important to me that she doesn’t cover.

    It’s all puzzle pieces. But I can align with her enough to make it worthwhile interacting and to develop my own beliefs, thoughts and strategies in life.

  30. 30
    Lilian says:

    Actually, the most interesting part of my life has been my various experiments in embracing other people’s beliefs emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. I’m nomadic, so I find a new set of things every few years. You learn so much from coming out of your own bubble and reframing what you can observe intuitively. New Ageism was just another experiment for me.

  31. 31
    Lilian says:

    I might be old enough to stop doing that so much, but its so fun to play this compare and contrast game.

  32. 32
    Kristen says:

    Interesting.. As soon as I hear something “preachy” I just stop listening. But I have always felt a profound connection to the Divine.

    I actually found a place that had advertised as spiritual but not religious and includes prayer, service, meditation, study and circulation as the five pillars of spiritual practice. I attend these services and feel fulfilled.

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