Spirituality without religion

So, for all my life, religion and spirituality have been used as if they mean the same thing. Because of this, I don’t know the difference. I came across a book of Sam Harris, “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion”, and that’s when I first realized that perhaps these two terms really are different.

On theatlantic.com, SNBR (spiritual, but not religious) people have been described as: " They reject organized religion but maintain a belief in something larger than themselves. That “something” can range from Jesus to art, music, and poetry. There is often yoga involved."

I still don’t understand what it means to have something larger than yourself and in what sense. To start off, the universe is unimaginably larger than us. Does realizing that truth make us spiritual?

Or, is it about mind-body harmony where you are at absolute peace or something?

Recently, someone I know told me that he went from religious to atheist, and from atheist to spiritual. I just want to understand what difference does it make in the lives of SNBRs? Do they approach negative events differently? Do they think that death is not the end?

And, are atheists not spiritual? Or is being an atheist different from being a spiritual? Or can you be both at the same time?

Anyone knows?

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I was like that for over forty years, rejecting organized religion and christianity, but still seeking something spiritual.

Best I know of.

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In my experience, it seems to involve some appeal to mind–body dualism.

Or as I like to put it: the notion that you are more than the sum of your (physical) parts. Very similar to the popular theist view that humans are not animals.

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I tend to view “spirituality” as nothing more than a brain state. In psychology they are called ‘peak experiences.’ But as I have been a spiritual sojourner most of my life, via, Carlos Castaneda, Jane Roberts, GI Gurgeiff, Jung, Buddhism, Hinduism, Krishna Consciousness, Lucid Dreaming, Out of Body Astral Projection, TD Suzuki, J Krishnamurti, The Transcendental Meditation Movement, Hatha and Raja Meditations, Dan Milman’s Warrior’s way, Crack in the Cosmic Egg, The Tao Physics, and a whole lot more shit that I probably would not waste time wading through again today…

Spirituality… a brain state. A state of mind that you can train yourself to enter and use. Not much more. No ESP, no magic perceptions. Awareness sure, however, awareness without common sense, critical thinking, is useless.

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" The twin cultural trends of deinstitutionalization and individualism have, for many, moved spiritual practice away from the public rituals of institutional Christianity to the private experience of God within ."

Pure horseshit. Spiritualism has never had anything to do with Christianity or any specific religion. It is a part of human nature and occurs in every culture on the planet. It is, IMO, a state of mind. Nothing more. The entire article is suppositional garbage.

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I had an idea of what “spiritual” was.

I had experience with it as a JW… “that feeling”. Moving away from organized religion didn’t take “spiritual” experiences away. In fact, it helped me realize that this wasn’t the “property” of any religion. It wasn’t something special given to the “right” followers.

Then I started to pay more attention to it. That feeling I’d get when watching a sunrise, coffee in hand (smoke in the other) before my day started, I noted was appreciation. The awe of nature - the music I’d listen to, the effects in my mood and memory. Losing myself in thought …

Now when that word is used, mostly it’s to describe that state (poetry you relate to or scientific discovery)… that “feeling” of something more is, IMO, a deep appreciation for life and the contributions of others to describe (artistically or otherwise) our part. And it is “greater and grander” than us as a “whole”, but we are still apart of it. Just like my body as a whole is greater and granted than my pinkie finger - but still apart and still within that whole body.

When most use it though, I think it’s used as a projection of being a or attached to an unknown deity and “afterlife” … a new way of filling in the “gaps” in our knowledge.

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This is a great point White. Religion usurps spirituality. It takes what is naturally human and claims it for its own. Some asshole in a wizard’s costume, holding a magic book, mumbling incantations to the tune of emotional appeals accompanying music to get the fools to believe the natural experience he is convincing them to engage in is somehow spiritual. It’s all bullshit. The Church steals what is human and calls it their own. Exactly what this spiritual crap is doing.

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For me, atheism is based on the lack of any empirical evidence for any god(s)

Spiritualism in the sense of something " not of the physical world" is based on superstition. IE it is not evidence based, rather based on fantasies about how people would like reality to be.

An atheist it is only a person who does not believe in in god(s). There is no such thing as an atheist position on any other question.

I speak only for myself. I’m a materialist, as well as a bunch of other things. Don’t have any pretentions of being spiritual .

Not sure what you mean. For me the mind is a function of the living brain. Mind and body are not separate. In my experience there are few absolutes in life of which l am aware.

I’m aware that some atheists practice Hatha Yoga and various meditation techniques. Some claim it brings a certain inner calm and peace of mind. That’s a big deal to me and I would be happy with that. I stopped seeking any kind of perfection over 40 years ago.

The above comments are only my opinion based on my life experience and a lot of reading. I’m unable to claim knowledge of any truths.

PS from what I’ve read, seems to me that Sam Harris may well be a wanker; “New atheism” my arse.

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What objective evidence can you demonstrate for spirituality?

The question doesn’t change when the claim or belief changes, that would make my rationale biased and irrational.

A biased rationale is by definition closed minded.

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“Spirituality” is a brain state. (The definition changes with the belief.) All brains in all cultures who worshiped all gods have been able to induce this state in selves and in believers. Spirituality happens from the inside out and not the other way around.

" n a new study, published in Cerebral Cortex (paywall) on May 29, neuroscientists explain how they generated “personally relevant” spiritual experiences in a diverse group of subjects and scanned their brains while these experiences were happening. The results indicate that there is a “neurobiological home” for spirituality. When we feel a sense of connection with something greater than the self—whether transcendence involves communion with God, nature, or humanity—a certain part of the brain appears to activate."

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I thought that was what I said. Or was at least what I meant to say.

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We’re clear now. I probably just read it wrong. You know how chimp minds are… Wait? No you don’t. Well, kind of like a … Hey! I just realized that there is a joke about a guy that walks into a bar with a duck on his head.

A man walks into a bar with a duck on his head and orders a beer. The bartender says, “We don’t get many people in here with ducks on their head.” The duck says, “At $10 a beer, it’s no surprise.”

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Wait…wouldn’t that be confusing? Not having an objective definition? Dictionaries still say that spirituality has something to do with the supernatural (and I agree, the etymology would be straightforward).
Perhaps the term “spiritual(ity)” is used because that would appeal to readers who have some notion of these experiences.

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It is one of those concepts that resists being defined. A reason to be skeptical; right out of the gate.

Not unlike the word natural.

I’m also suspicious both words are often used in such a way to try to make humans (and therefore the speaker) special.


Punchline “I was talking to the duck”?

A drunk was in the gutter, next to a pig.

A passing prig said “We are judged by the company we keep”

The pig got up and slowly walked away.


A duck walks into a bar and says to the bartender, “I’d like to buy some peanuts.” The bartender says, “Sorry, don’t sell peanuts.” The duck leaves.
The next day, the duck returns and again says, “I want to buy some peanuts.” The bartender replies, a bit gruffly this time, “I already told you I don’t sell peanuts.” The duck leaves.
The next day, the duck comes in once again and yet again demands, “I want to buy some peanuts!” The outraged bartender yells back, “I told you, I don’t sell peanuts! If you ask one more time, I’ll nail you to the wall!” The duck leaves.
The next day, the duck walks into the bar and before the bartender can say a word, the duck asks, “Do you have any nails?” The bartender looks taken aback and says quietly, “Sorry, don’t have nails.” The duck asks, “Well then, do you have any peanuts?”


How can spirituality have something to do with the “supernatural” when we have no evidence for anything at all “supernatural?” We are merely explaining one unknown thing with a higher abstraction. Fairly useless in my opinion.

On the other hand, brains do exist. We all have them. Many have used them to alter their thinking process and imagine themselves one with the universe, out of their body, or even speaking with the magical and omnipotent creator of the universe.

Spiritual is a synonym for “I don’t know what the fuck it is.” Demonstrate anything at all spiritual that does not include a brain.

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These appeals to the numinous always amount to bare assertions, and very often to entirely erroneous assertions, that directly contradict objective facts.

If humans “have” or “possess” spirituality, then why is it that countless discussions on the matter never result in anything approaching objective evidence, or even an accurate or definitive description or explanation of it, or what it does?


Relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.

Clear as mud, the dictionary definition itself, is little more than a begging the question fallacy.


The word is used too loosely to be useful, imo.

A neighbor fell down the stairs, saying a ghost pushed him. I figure he was drunk again, His wife said she believed it was a ghost because they are both " very spiritual". I thought, " that does it, the word has no meaning".


Here, this is something similar:

There are atheists who belong to a religion.

Basically, they don’t believe in a god or anything, but still practice the religion.

Spiritual but not religious people are basically the same.

They might believe in a god, but don’t follow or practice any religion.