Beliefs, Religion and Reason – A perspective of Hindu Atheist

May 15, 2009

Spiritual but not religious

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aniket @ 5:18 am
Tags: , , , ,

I have seen many people using this expression – ‘I am spiritual, but I am not religious’. I used to say that about me too. But I don’t think I’d fully understood what it means and I still don’t. It is just one of those intelligent sounding sexy expressions. I’d love to hear if someone can tell me the real difference between the two.

To me it is like saying – 
I am not superstitious like some rural construction worker, I do not perform all the rituals blindly the way prescribed by the books, but I thoroughly believe in religion and wholeheartedly worship (or fear?) god.
I do not paint my body with colorful powders and ashes, but I prefer to a carry a signature of my belief on my forehead in rather aesthetic way.
I do not listen to mythological dumb folklore stories, but I am generally overwhelmed by the talk of some suave sadhubaba, living in five star aashrama having commode toilets and A/C meditation halls, preaching banal discourses on life, sufferings, happiness, austerity and pseudo-science of metaphysics.
I do not participate in religious processions where people are coarsely singing religious hymns, beating the drums to add to the cacophony and wildly dancing on that tune half drunk, half naked. But I proudly carry the CDs of stotras, bhajans, prayers, mantras in my car and occasionally listen to them as a mark of my spirituality.

So if that is spirituality, then is it just not an uptight, upscale, presumptuous version of gross religiosity?

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9 Comments »

  1. Hey Aniket, Welcome Back. Glad to know you are doing good.

    I agree with you. I have never been able to make out what the difference was either, but always thought it was more of fad, expressed by people who never seriously thought about religion

    Comment by nitwitnastik — May 15, 2009 @ 8:42 pm | Reply

    • Yea… sudden spike in work kept me away for awhile.
      In fact, I was not even reading any blogs for a month or so. Still need to catch up your older posts …

      Comment by Aniket — May 16, 2009 @ 4:33 am | Reply

  2. Hi Aniket!

    Nice post!

    I’d required to use a term for ‘level of contentment, happiness and degree of ease with the world around’–and I chose to use the term–‘spiritual health’. I myself don’t use the term ‘soul’. Though, of late I’ve started using it whereby I mean–the aspirations, tendencies, and desire to live. Though, I consider both (spirit and soul) in above context ill-defined, and that I could’ve as well used the term ‘mental and social health’, but that’d have been cumbersome and possibly offensive 🙂

    Yes, I agree that a vast majority of people who define themselves as ‘spiritual’ themselves don’t know what they mean. I think many agnostic theists and atheists and pantheists also use the appellation.

    BTW, I describe myself as negative atheist 😉

    Take care.

    Comment by panchalkc — June 3, 2009 @ 2:15 pm | Reply

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    Comment by Swami Manavatavadi — August 1, 2009 @ 2:35 am | Reply

  4. Noble Ones !
    Humblest Greetings.
    Here we propose that those who want to see this world sane, just, war free, violence free, equal, democratic one-world, fraternal world, people of scientific and positive temper, non-fanatic, nonsectarian, non-nationalist, positive rationalist, compassionate and empathetic are cordially requested to join this group to discuss the possibilities of a sane and just world without magic, miracle and imagination of a supernatural persecutor.

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    Comment by Swami Manavatavadi — August 1, 2009 @ 2:40 am | Reply

  5. Hello there – cannot tell you how delighted I am to find your blog! I too am a “Hindu Atheist” for want of a better expression. I too come from the world of “I am spiritual, not religious” and I too truly believed that about myself.

    I have also always believed myself to be atheist though. Having been a student of Vedanta for many years, I can’t discount it completely, but it just started sounding less and less sensible, more and more religious to me, so I couldn’t go to those classes anymore. And my atheism only got firmer through it all.

    I do however, think there is a little room to be both spiritual and atheist – here, I only take spiritual to mean two things:
    1. Being the best person I can be – be it in my life’s work (career if you like to call it that), in my dealings with people, being honest, both with myself and others.

    2. The biggest lesson for me in all those years of spirituality, is that of acceptance – and there needs to be no god to understand that. Understanding that life will be how life will be, that there are some things you can change, but some things that you can’t – and learning to be peaceful despite that fact.

    Outside of these two things all of what I learned in Vedanta/Spiritual classes, I will have to qualify as religion because without the fundamental premise of god existing, they don’t make sense. And of course, since the premise of god itself doesn’t make sense, the point is moot.

    Hope you keep blogging!

    Comment by sexism_rebel — October 16, 2009 @ 9:31 am | Reply

  6. The cliche “I am spiritual but not religious” is truly thoughtless. Since “spiritual” means “incorporeal,” no-body can be spiritual. Everyone not only needs but has numeous links (“religio”)to their Spirit. One can discover their own links to the Spirit or follow established links or religions.

    One should, of course, never steal established links or misrepresent them as one sees in much of the “new-age” stuff. The spurious Yoga movement is a prime example of this theft of the established religious priniciples of Hnduism.

    Comment by Swami Param — October 27, 2009 @ 9:47 am | Reply

  7. Your site was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last Thursday.

    I’m Out! 🙂

    Comment by online stock trading advice — January 11, 2010 @ 1:38 am | Reply

  8. I just liked your question which really requires a comprehensive answer. It seems to me from your perspective your answer is really great because it does not include or link with any kind of traditions, dogmatic rules, theories, and so on. Spirituality is a call of our soul to express only good in our thinking and manifestations. But what I found (in my experience of searching the spirituality that in order to be confident in good thinking and deeds we must overcome any fearful suggestions which might come from our corporeal mind, from world educated beliefs or even from negative mental suggestions of any individuals. To do that we need to have “a holy ground” or basis of all good or God as translated from many languages. To know and to fulfill the law of GOOD or LOVE is the principle of our behavior – whether it is ethical, moral and so on. God spoke to us through His eternal WORD or principles and therefore to remain spiritual and good individual it is absolutely indispensable to follow God’s rules without any rituals but to love His word with all our hearts, minds, and souls.

    Comment by Michael Blitchtein — March 31, 2011 @ 9:10 pm | Reply


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