Spiritual But Not Religious

So something I often have heard over the years from others is: “I am spiritual but not religious.” I’ve heard this enough times that I believe I have narrowed it down to several observations and contexts in which this is said. Here they are:

1) Most often they are, though not exclusively… westerners (makes sense because western scholarship, science and religions in their contemporary form have likewise divided “the self” (e.g. cogito of Descartes) and faith into many parts

2) Many times mean they have no direct allegiance, interest or affiliation with any particular faith tradition

3) Lack the discipline and resolve to commit to a faith practice for any meaningful duration of time sufficient for spiritual/moral/ethical development. Examples: they want the physical movements of yoga (in fact often calling themselves yoginis and gurus) but not the dietary, philosophical and life knowledge it teaches. Meditation of Buddhism without any commitment to relieving the suffering of others. Read the poetry of Rumi but give no acknowledgement of his tradition (Islam… “sufism” is not a religion but rather a path within Islam that is properly called tassawuuf) Participate in religious holidays like buying Christmas gifts or attending church on Easter as many do but don’t believe in the Christ of Christianity/Catholicism…and so on with so many other examples (plug in the faith here…) Or they love drumming, drinking various medicinal concoctions, participation in sweat lodges or ceremonies of native traditions but don’t get the meaning of those sacred moments outside of the immediate physical experience of them.

4) Sometimes people who say this are deeply committed to a particular faith but their expression and relationship to its purest meanings allow them to maintain this practice and commitment while still recognizing the humanity in all people regardless of their faith tradition or lack of one.

So what do you think about the above? Agree or disagree? What has your experience been with this? Are you someone who would classify yourself as spiritual but not religious? Why or why not?



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