Am I Religious or Am I Spiritual?

Am I religious or Am I spiritual?

I’ve heard this question many times. I usually laugh because I don’t care for such a question. Religion and spirituality are often separated for some reason; as if one has to exist separate from the other. But is this just a game that we play with ourselves? Or, are we evolving into a new form of thought? In my view, this question contains many spheres. Not only in the question do we find possible answers when we look deeply within, but we also find the spheres of mind, heart and soul. We find life in the question.

Most people that know me would say that I’m just an average person; a little reserved, very laid back and I tend to keep to myself. And this describes part of me very well. However, I’ve found that once I began writing and blogging; without knowing me personally many people have this idea that I’m some sort of guru sitting in a perpetual lotus position floating around on a magic carpet and sprinkling pixy dust on everything. And this is definitely not the case, though I would love a magic carpet ride.

We’re all different. We all have quirks and characteristics that make us whole. We cannot exist without all of our parts. It is our divine complexity that make us all very unique, but also very similar. Even Deepak Chopra, who is held as a wonderful spiritual teacher has his moments of anger, lust, humor and temptation. The Dalai Lama has admitted several times of being offended, angered and tempted. We are all the same in this manner, no matter how spiritual or religious we consider ourselves to be. No matter the definition, recognition of action and choice remain in our control.Β 

We all also define life in so many different ways. What I define as spirit is entirely different than what another person may think. What I learn and interpret is entirely different from what another learns and interprets, even though the information may come from the same book. So when we ask ourselves are we religious or are we spiritual, the answer must come from within and not weighed against any collective definition or standard.

In fact, one could be religious about being spiritual, or, one could have religion and believe in a dogma that defines spirit. We could all smile at our own thought of what spirit looks and feels like. No matter, the road to answer this question is nothing more than a circle drawn around you in the sand.Β 

Personally, I feel that Spirit needs no specific definition. Spirit needs no religion other than a philosophy of kindness and compassion. Once we attune, we realize our own truths and the question of whether or not we are religious or spiritual matters little. We all already know the answer. In a sphere of existence, we are all the definition of spirit, we are all penned and contained in a cosmic portrait painted by a divine hand.Β 

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I am an artist, writer, author, philosopher and lover of nature and life. My blog offers a glimpse into my world, my thoughts, my sphere. Enjoy!

68 thoughts on “Am I Religious or Am I Spiritual?

  1. Hey, indeed many people still grapple with this question and often it becomes a source of contention. I believe that everyone has an inner search to understand his/her spirit man. Also, I agree that we can be religious and not spiritual. We can focus on rituals and not feed the spirit.

  2. I loved this post for it’s humility and authenticity. The way I see it, we all have a MINIMUM of two cups of crazy, the question is, can we accept it in ourselves and each other. You speak so eloquently about the dilemma that self disclosure brings. I applaud your efforts. blessings of love and peace coming your way. Beth from middlescapes.com

  3. I’m highly spiritual, but don’t consider myself to be religious in the least. Spiritual has no rules, no house, no book. Spiritual is a belief system. And my spiritual beliefs are truly my own – I almost cringe at the thought of sharing them unless I feel the person I am speaking too stands on the same ground I do.

    1. Most people I talk with feel the same.. But I’ve found that revealing our true beliefs and feelings is not only healthy, you’re also surprised what you can learn from others, no matter what ground they stand on. πŸ™‚

  4. While in the seminary (and still to this day) I pondered about this same question “Am I Religious or Am I Spiritual”. While everyone has to come to their own conclusion on this question based on their faith tradition, there are no easy answers. For me Spirituality attunes the heart with the mind, Religion attunes the mind with the heart. I’ve always lead with my heart because I leaned that I can’t have certitude over another individuals thoughts, feelings or actions. Religion asks for certitude; Spirituality seeks clarity.

    “Once we attune, we realize our own truths and the question of whether or not we are religious or spiritual matters little.” That really says it all!

    I appreciate your wonderful post on this topic!

  5. My experience is this: while spiritual and religious are not the same, they are also neither mutually exclusive nor inclusive. They are simply different ways of perceiving Self, as are science, the arts, mathematics, philosophy, engineering, and on and on…

      1. Yes, and all of it is, simply put (but not easily grasped), Self expressing infinitely, eternally…how can existence, both in general and individually, be confined to any single interpretation or understanding?

      2. It cannot be in my opinion.. And many years ago i ran across the theory of reality being nothing more than self expression, and though I believe it to hold a certain possible truth, I acknowledge that it is just one of the many facets of endless varied and infinite possibilities.. I’d rather smile at the great mystery than bend my mind attempting to figure it all out.. No one knows and obviously not everyone will ever agree..this will always remain true

      3. Ah, sorry, when I say Self, I mean the animating principle expressing (whatever that may be), not individual self expressing (such as you or me, for all our wonderful qualities!). Even so, I agree with you…the mystery will remain no matter how much mind-bending might be done in the attempt to understand!

      4. Ah I see.. That reminds me of the integral model of reality presented by Ken Wilbur.. another fascinating interpretation! In my view, simply pondering the mystery will always be much more fun than figuring out the answer.. πŸ˜‰

  6. When I caught glimpse of your post, I just have to postpone doing my powerpoint presentation and pay attention to what you have to say. My boyfriend frequently visits your blog as well. He’s a Philosophy major and he loves reading about your musings. πŸ™‚ And I feel the same.

    Here in the Philippines, I must say that people are not yet attuned to discriminating which is spiritual or religious. I guess no one will ever be for that matter. What pains me to think is that, in this type of society and culture that I am in, everything I do in order to connect with the spirit has to have a concrete justification; which is something I find absurd. Like what you said, there shouldn’t be a general imposition on the difference of the two because they can transcend to each other. What could be spiritual to someone can be a whole lot different to the judgement of another. Another thing that complicates things here in my country is the presence of so many sectors of religion who constantly impose on its followers. Like what I said, the spirit knows no boundaries. Therefore, there shouldn’t be no impositions at all.

    Again, nice job my friend. You always do well in writing down your insights. Reading your blog made my night. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you! and thank your boyfriend as well. I’m happy that he enjoys my writing here.. And you’re very right.. there should be no concrete justification at all, I find it absurd as well..

    2. Hi Tina! Surprised to see you around here. I’m also following this blog. =D

      Thanks, Jeremiah. I agree. By this age and time, we are creating new definitions of religion and spirituality. More than traditional rituals, dogma and doctrines, we live those ancient wisdom as a profound experience. I believe that’s the reason why we all write and share our insights in this intricate cyber-universe, touching souls that defy distance. =)

  7. That second paragraph made me laugh. That is exactly how I had you pictured in my mind. I’m just kidding but I do understand what you mean. This is a great post and really makes me think. In my humble opinion I believe you can be spiritual without being religious but if you are religious most likely you have some spiritual aspect about you even if it is small. And then there are those people who are neither one. But we won’t go there. Thanks for the great post!

  8. i think the question you are being asked relates to our current cultural definition of religious dogma. They are asking whether you adhere to a specific religious dogma, which you don’t–it appears. As a former Catholic, I abhor the dogma of a male-dominated church (a complex set of man-made rules designed to make women second-class citizens) but align myself with spirituality, the essence of what I am.

    1. It is the essence of the question I believe.. And no i don’t conform to any dogmas.. I prefer to be formless in my understanding, which gives me a greater degree of freedom when interpreting anything I choose to see as truth

  9. Amen my dear. I say that as a Christian. And a highly spiritual person. I’m a Christian that doesn’t believe in organized religion. I think it has ruined Christianity. My belief is if we are good to one another then the world is a better place. For everyone.

  10. Many blessings, i love your opinion and how you see life. In my case, my only religion is GOD and JESUS, and that we are branches of this great light, that is love. I believe that our creator love us soooooooo much, GOD is our gift, and he is our giver, amen.

  11. Gee…that’s a toughie! Many of us tend to bounce back and forth between the two. I think we all are bits of both. We’re “religious” in our rituals, our ties to whatever beliefs we hold true, and whatever security/certainty they provide. We’re also “spiritual” in our intimate connection to the Divine, when we step outside our selves and become one with that which is greater than we are, and the uncertainty and mystery of it all. Peace!

  12. What always saddens me in this question is the inherent certitude that the two are not complementary…whereas these are overlapping spheres…one is not exclusive to the other…a true believer journeys to understand everlasting love…compassion…and Truth through the essence of the spirit. I feel we restrict ourselves, sadly, through this perception…

  13. We were made first in the spirit and then clothed with flesh. Everything therefore is first spirit then flesh whether that is a human being, an animal or a tree. God didn’t make anything that wasn’t spiritual first. religion is an earthly name we give to the teachings of God so we can either say we are religious – believe in God – or not, but things remain the same, we are all spiritual and so is everything else. Enjoyed this post.

  14. I really love this! Especially β€œPersonally, I feel that Spirit needs no specific definition. Spirit needs no religion other than a philosophy of kindness and compassion.”

    I’ve been asked many times about similar things. I am religious and spiritual. However, I don’t truly believe in what everyone believes. I sometimes believe in this people think is wrong, but that’s just what makes me, me. Right?

    Great post! Keep it up!

  15. Wonderful post. Thank you. Regilously, I’m Roman Catholic. Spiritually, I’d guess all of my faith and spirit come from that tradition; unfortunately, it’s not the Catholic tradition that gets press these days. So I always start with my spiritual identification, hoping to make connection with those who are understandably suspicious of my Catholic roots. I’m skeptical of anyone, even my Church, that claims to be able to define Spirit. I don’t find that anywhere in the Hebrew or Christian bibles. I do find a God who will not be limited in the way she relates to, and saves, her children. Again, great stuff.

  16. Labels, labels…We love to have our little labels on everyhting and everyone. They are so confining. It almost feels like a team name…Are you on team religious or team spiritual?! Do we have to choose? Religious seems to have a serious, negative connotation with the whole push for “newer” and “modern” ways of thinking. I’m not saying that is bad or good…just saying πŸ™‚ Religious implies that you may be crochety or rigid in your beliefs while spiritual seems more free and open-minded. I’m somewhere in the middle (as usual)!!

  17. I loved your book! As for this post– question ~ I shant engage in this debate except to saay there IS a difference and discovering it is a wonderful sphere and realm of self understanding that is worth every stumbling block. Thank you for a wonderful book, a wonderful post~ a wonderful heart! Sincerely Deborah

  18. I once found myself saying “I’m not religious but spiritual” then my friend asked me what that meant. I feel it was my way of separating myself from religious dogma but also the past of what religion has done, for lack of better phrase. I don’t understand how one can read teachings of “love thy neighbor” then kill to convert to their belief. But then I was using my definitions of religion/religious dogma, my perceptions and using that as my starting point. We all have different perceptions and starting point, the thing making us the same is we’re different. The thing making us different is forgetting we’re of the same, same love, same spirit, same light… great post, I enjoy reading your blogs posts (especially now that I figured out they went to my “reader” and not email… πŸ™‚

  19. I love your blog and the way you think. I believe very much in not trying to define who or what we are, but recognize that we all are of the same source and in that we find we all have value. Peace, Brother.

  20. Great thought-provoking post! I could particularly relate to this part:
    “We all also define life in so many different ways. What I define as spirit is entirely different than what another person may think. What I learn and interpret is entirely different from what another learns and interprets, even though the information may come from the same book. So when we ask ourselves are we religious or are we spiritual, the answer must come from within and not weighed against any collective definition or standard.”

    Definitions can be very limiting, and it’s nice to see someone acknowledge that religion vs. spirituality isn’t a simple “black and white” debate. There’s much more to it. Look forward to reading more posts! Thank you following my blog, too!

  21. This was exceptionally thoughtful. I truly admire the way you ponder theses issues and I think the very last sentence is so beautiful and so true. Here’s a few of my own thoughts and I hope you and others can glean something from it. But know I truly respect everyone’s thoughts on this as all are at different places in life. If any topic is my life quest it is this one. And so bear with me as I have come to write as essay.
    Religion (that being a group of rituals and traditions) and spirituality are both gifts from God. The rituals themselves were orininally intended to be a time to reflect, to confess, receive forgiveness, to just dwell and enjoy the presence of God. Tragically, man has used religion to further his own ambition. But there are still many places that practice it as intended.Β 
    As a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ and an ever learning student of the Scriptures, your topic is frequently discussed and examined. After years of in-depth study of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, I find him to be the most significant, potent, and radical person that ever lived. Who he criticized most were the religious leaders who had totally lost touch with true spirituality and were using their cloak of religion for worldly power.
    There is in all of us a hunger for the divine, to find the meaning of life, for spirituality, as well as how to resolve our deepest problem of guilt and shame that accompanies our broken life.. The Bible weaves this theme throughout the entire book, along with all the atrocities of mankind. It is shockingly honest and beautiful at the same time. But those who truly seek to know God, despite the perplexities, paradoxes, and human brokeness, will find him. {“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (Jeremiah 29:13 NLT)} But it does take effort on our part in that we must seek.
    There is also much revealed in the Bible about the spirit. Jesus said much about this as well. The Bible teaches that the spirit is the person of God in spirit form. Thus, the Spirit is a “person” and he draws people to God. He whispers in your heart God’s love for you. He imprinted the divine “stamp” on everyone’s soul. It is his purpose to draw all to an intimate relationship with the Creator, to dwell in constant fellowship with Him. The Spirit also keeps us in check, speaking to our conscience, protecting us from harm. He is that still, small voice. {“They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.” (Romans 2:15 NLT)} And tragically, it is we who go astray and do not listen.
    What is not revealed is wrapped in mystery. {β€œThe LORD our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions. (Deuteronomy 29:29 NLT)}
    I live and breathe spirituality and I found it all in Jesus Christ. For a fascinating dialogue between Jesus and the religious leaders read the Gospel of John, chapter 8. I will tell you, once you start studying him, you will find much complexity. But that is mainly because he weaves Old Testament throughout his teaching and his life. One needs a thorough understanding of the Old Testament to fully understand him. But study him first and foremost. Understand the tapestry first before you turn it around and study the intricate stitches of the back.
    All the mystery of the Old Testament, of life in general, of spirituality, is all wrapped up in Jesus Christ.Β 
    And spirituality is the deepest essence of our existence. He teaches on it constantly, which is one of the many reasons he was so misunderstood. Many weighed his teachings in the shallow, material, and political world of selfish gain and ambition. Oh, how fooled they were! He cannot and will not be contained by anything man-made. But he is the bridge to a relationship with God, and he boldly said so. {“Jesus told him, β€œI am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NLT) } He is simply profound but profoundly simple.
    So, that is my essay. I am a Christian who feels true Christianity is rarely displayed in it’s purest essence. These words are but are but a few of my attempts to do so.Β 
    Please keep thinking and writing. It’s refreshing to find someone who truly ponders on the deeper issues of life and spirituality. I wish more people would. It seems so many just go through the motions of life and never discover the great wonder of the deeper thngs that are so fulfilling.
    Peace to you my friend.
    Alexandria

  22. Great share. I’ve always seen spirituality as not necessarily inclusive with religion. Ditto–it is the true essence of one’s existence.

  23. I love the very thoughtful post, I love all your posts. But you’re bursting my bubble… what do you mean no pixie dust!? – – I’d like to retain the lotus positioned guru on the magic carpet image if you don’t mind, it makes me smile.

  24. Religion to me has rules, set dogma, other people’s interpretations, habitual habits and followings…Whereas, Spirit to me is free, ever learning, expressive, enlightening, ever changing…I prefer Spiritualaity over Religion but, as humans we sometimes get the two confused…and rely on Religion as a name we can let others know us by…Isn’t that a shame…If we could just let God flow through us with His Spirit instead of confining Him…and ourselves …we all would be so much more content and happy…JUST MY OPINION…~mkg

  25. Great post Jeremiah! My religious upbringing has always been tied to my spiritualism. In fact, in growing and learning of other cultures, religions and spiritual beliefs, I have continually morphed into what I am today and what it is that I believe and the faith I hold true in my heart. I began to realize how so many of these different religions and spiritual beliefs had so many similarities and ultimately could be tied back to the same truth. The Universe holds this one truth and so many like to believe it is this big mystery, this huge secret! There is only one truth, but here, there are endless ways to believe and to find our own truth within a sea of information. Since the beginning, there have been endless versions and spin-offs created and so if we all look deep within, and just go with our intuitive beliefs, then in a sense we are able to find our own religion and our owns spiritual place, that is when our body become our temple.

    I am with you, I feel spirit doesn’t not need any specific label or definition. Growing through life though, I can see and feel how it helps those who are still learning to understand so many different aspects of themselves as well as life. If I hadn’t questioned everything I was taught I would have never found what it was that I was looking for, freedom from these definitions.

    I can completely relate, that in creating a philosophical and spiritual blog, peoples perception may become skewed. It is my intention to walk through my day as beacon of light and unconditional love, that will never change. Yet, nothing about me is perfect lol And I love it that way. There would be no point to life without our human extremes and experiences, as deep, dark and dirty as they can get. For me, it is all about balance. πŸ˜‰

    β™₯ Love and light, bright one πŸ™‚ β™₯

  26. Just stumbled across your blog, from another I follow. I recognize some faces here. Reading a few of your post, seems we think a like in some ways. Refreshing truths you scribe. I don’t usually leave links…I’m just not that way…maybe .5 % of the time, but this really resonated with something, and instead of rewriting or copying and pasting, all put the link here. No biggie if you don’t get to it. But thought I’d share. Take care, Sam πŸ™‚
    http://aspergersgirls.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/day-twenty-three-a-sliver-of-my-sacred-hours/

  27. Thanks for this post. Well done. I’ve often questioned religious vs. spirituality and also found that the answer, if there is one for me, doesn’t really matter.

    I often return to a quote from Einstein: β€œThe fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead. A snuffed-out candle. It was the experience of mystery, even if mixed with fear, that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty – it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude. In this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.”

  28. Hello. Grand post. On my blog I often refer to the difference between Faith and Religion. Faith is a set of beliefs I feel we mostly see the world in context of, and Religion is a behavior modification tool used to control the masses. I also felt that each of us sees the world , our reality differently. Thanks for the post. Hugs

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