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What does 'spiritual' mean?


Spirituality & Religious Beliefs Contemplate your place and purpose in the universe.

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Old 27th October 2016, 5:40 AM   #1
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What does 'spiritual' mean?

OK, I'm a crusty old athiest - but am always open to learning about other's beliefs.

I keep hearing about people being 'spiritual' as opposed to being religious. What does being spiritual mean? And how do you experience it?
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Old 27th October 2016, 5:50 AM   #2
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It's used these days to denote someone who believes in some kind of cosmic omnipotence without necessarily adhering to any particular religion. Spirituality follows the new age practice of pulling from various philosophies and religions ideologies and practices that suit the individual while discarding what doesn't. Emcompasses old school ideologies like religion, gnosticism as well as newly made up stuff like Wicca and new age thought.

Spiritual has become this catch-all that basically means anything not related to mundane life like working, paying bills and owning stuff. Anything one would ordinarily associate with Gods, God worship, pertaining to the soul, and unseen aspects of life typically described as mystical.
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Old 27th October 2016, 1:14 PM   #3
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Buddhists description is pretty accurate in describing how its most frequently used. I guess for me the core of spirituality is not about the mystical persay. More just the belief in a higher purpose \ higher power. Describing the unseen elements and actions that connect us with that and with each other. So I think all religions and religious people are automatically spiritual - but all spiritual people aren't necessarily religious.

Religion tends to have a specific doctrine that must be followed. Codified set of beliefs from a holy text of some sort and\or explicit interpretations of concepts or laws that must be adhered to. Sometimes (not always) religions will say their interpretation is the only correct way or only true God. This is where religion and spirituality really diverge. People who say they are "Spiritual" generally think all the religions are essentially tapping into the same thing and just have different ways and methods of describing it and practicing it. So like Buddhist says they take parts from different teachings that work for them. Instead of seeing one set path all must follow - spirituality sees many paths that you can travel to the same destination. You have the ability to choose the one that works for you.

As for how you "experience" the spirit. Sometimes this might be equated with a "peak experience" like a spiritual awakening or mystical type thing. But my interpretation of the word is simply that the collective creates something larger. We are all connected and part of it. Having a spiritual experience to me simply means tapping into or doing work that contributes to that something larger. Going beyond our own limited selfish view of the world. So you could also experience it simply by helping someone else who needs assistance. That good feeling you get after doing it and contributing towards the larger collective is spiritual to me.
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Old 27th October 2016, 2:47 PM   #4
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I also think that a lot of people use it to mean secular without having to say words atheist or agnostic... probably raised Christian, now agnostic, but still have family and community built around the church. Spiritual is vague enough that it can be interpreted as believing in God, or the mystical power of the universe, but not organized religion.
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Old 27th October 2016, 4:06 PM   #5
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I also think it's an informal way of saying you're in touch w your feelings and not always hyper-rational. (And at times that's a built-in excuse for rationalizing your philosophical and emotional contradictions. And I don't really mean that in a judgmental way, just that lots of ppl aren't exactly rational straight thru and they need an out for that that serves as a character defense more than an intellectual argument.)
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Old 27th October 2016, 4:35 PM   #6
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Thanks for taking the time to answer. You've all done a great job of explaining. I hear it a lot, so now I won't be wondering what they are talking about
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Old 24th November 2016, 1:40 PM   #7
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Spiritual is something that isn't man made. It's natural. It's beliefs that go beyond human form. It's being in touch with the natural existence before the worlds distortion. "lies". Basically when adam and eve at the apple of knowledge, the knowledge was lies. We believe so much in external factors that we are blocked from the internal factors. A lot of confusing within oneself will cause a spiritual journey. Lots of people just live life and don't think about this. spiritual goes beyond human form!
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Old 24th November 2016, 2:19 PM   #8
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Thanks to OLD where identifying one's religious beliefs seems to be part of dating profiles anymore, I have found myself checking off 'Spiritual' more often than not despite having been raised Catholic. In my everyday life, I also identify much more with being spiritual than part of any one particular organized religion.

For ME, being a spiritual person is synonymous with being a person whose highest priority is to be loving to yourself and others. A spiritual person cares about people, animals and the planet, and strives to be a kind person. A spiritual person knows that we are all One, and consciously attempts to honor this Oneness.

You can go to church every Sunday and say your prayers every day, without caring about being kind and loving to yourself, others and to the planet. You can practice yoga and meditate every day without being conscious of what is loving and what is not loving in your thoughts and actions. You can belong to a spiritual group and devotedly follow the teachings, yet still be judgmental toward yourself and others in your daily life.

There are many people who do not practice a religion, who do not meditate, pray or belong to any group, who are very spiritual people. These people naturally do caring things for others. They think about how they can help. Their thoughts are kind rather than judgmental toward themselves and toward others. When you look at them, you see kindness in their eyes.

There are many religious people who are anything but kind. We all know of religious people who are extremely judgmental, righteous and outright mean. Can you be both religious and spiritual? Of course! But only when you are operating in your religion from your heart rather than from the learned dogma of your mind.

One of my favorite quotes of all time that describes my own belief is from Gandhi;

"Like the bee gathering honey from the different flowers, the wise person accepts the essence of the different scriptures and sees only the good in all religions"
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Old 24th November 2016, 5:06 PM   #9
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Biblically speaking, the spirit world does not mean non-physical. It would mean more along the lines of super-physical; in other words extending beyond and surpassing the physical world. Spirits are not these vague ideas that are "less real" than physical bodies. No, they are MORE real. In fact, angels in the bible, while their PRIME state is to be invisible, they CAN materialize in physical form. The sense in the bible when they do this is not that they are elevating status going from spirit to body; rather they are debasing and lowering themselves--as if to say, "Eh...it's time to take on that corruptible and nasty body again."

When we die, those who are resurrected at Christ's return will not be ghosts or invisible. We will be PHYSICAL BODIES. While it seems like a contradiction, the bible uses the phrase "spiritual bodies" to describe our resurrected bodies. They are incorruptible and eternal. When Jesus was resurrected he had his disciples physically touch him. They did. The same is promised to us.

So the take home message is that the spirit world is MORE real.
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Old 14th December 2016, 6:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by basil67 View Post
I keep hearing about people being 'spiritual' as opposed to being religious. What does being spiritual mean? And how do you experience it?
Hi basil67.
I think...it's mostly people who were born into, or are currently living in, a Christian-based society, who can come to feel that they want to acknowledge their sense/belief/ faith/confidence in a Higher (Cosmic or Universal) Power, yet the traditional 'Christian' teachings do not resonate; they feel incomplete or lacking in some way.

For me, saying that I'm "spiritual but not religious" is more of a short-cut to help others understand that, while I do believe in true Christ-based teachings, I also believe in true Bhudda-based teachings, especially the Universal or Cosmic Law of Cause and Effect (or 'Karma'; Kamma in Pali). And, I do NOT believe in any 'angry, wrathful, vengeful' Creator-God-in-the-sky'. (Which, of course, Jesus never taught about such a Being, in any case.)

I don't know that people experience spirituality - or 'religiousness', for that matter. It may just be more of a personal worldview or perspective upon which one bases one's thoughts, feelings and actions; or, from which one lives one's life.

In Light,
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Old 14th December 2016, 5:14 PM   #11
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It's like religion, but without religion.
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Old 1st January 2017, 11:59 AM   #12
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This is what "spiritual" means to me. I take religion as a guide to live a better life, but religion is not something I take literally. Religion is more of a moral compass I use to live my life by. I see myself as spiritual, but I see religion more as some great philosophical teachings to help you grow as a person. I also don't confine myself to studying one religion. I have studied Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Gnosticism, and Taoism. I take what I find are the best teachings in all the religions I have studied along with the teachings on morality by philosophers like Kant, Aristotle, Plato, Lock, Hobbs, Nietzsche, Descartes, Sartre, and Rousseau to mold this into the kind of morality I choose to live my life by.
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Old 6th January 2017, 7:09 PM   #13
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Definition:
Of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.
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Old 6th January 2017, 7:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by basil67 View Post
OK, I'm a crusty old athiest - but am always open to learning about other's beliefs.

I keep hearing about people being 'spiritual' as opposed to being religious. What does being spiritual mean? And how do you experience it?
As an athiest, you believe your strength comes internally.

Someone spritual believes their strength comes externally.
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Old 6th January 2017, 8:33 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Cheryl11111111111111 View Post
Spiritual is something that isn't man made. It's natural. It's beliefs that go beyond human form. It's being in touch with the natural existence before the worlds distortion. "lies". Basically when adam and eve at the apple of knowledge, the knowledge was lies. We believe so much in external factors that we are blocked from the internal factors. A lot of confusing within oneself will cause a spiritual journey. Lots of people just live life and don't think about this. spiritual goes beyond human form!
It wasn't an apple that they ate, it was the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.
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