Many people nowadays claim a spirituality, but do not claim religious affiliation. I reject the idea of a spirit, as much as I reject the idea of religion, or of any supreme deity. However, this has me thinking about what one means by spirituality. In most peoples minds, I imagine, the two are almost synonymous. Spirituality=Creator.

     But let me posit another idea. Contemplation of wonder. The poetry of reality. Awed, by the very nature of existence. My existence. Could this be classified as a form of 'spirituality'?

     When I think about the cosmos, I realize just how insignificant I am. That my existence means nothing, less than nothing. I am just a byproduct, if you will, of the universe. Nothing more, nothing less.

     However, all the forces and energy that started this cosmos, the early star formations that cooked heavier elements and gave them up to the universe in supernova explosions are inside ME. Yes, I am just in the universe, but the universe is also inside me. It is an integral part of me, you, dogs, snails, boulders. It makes me feel expansive, large, connected, bigger than I am. I feel significant, not insignificant.

     I stand in awe of rainbows, butterflies, babies, evolution, spacecraft, astronomy, Shakespeare, Steely Dan, and myriad other things. I can explain the why of a rainbow, for example (and it isn't a promise made to never do it again by an angry god), but that only heightens my understanding of it scientifically. The wonder, the awe, the reality only deepens. I look on and say 'Wow, beautiful'.

     I can think of many more examples, but I think you get the point. Whether one calls it spirituality or knowledge, I think it is inherent within us to look around and feel inspired. Not by delusion, like religion, but by reality. It bridges our emotional side and our rational side. To not only think, but feel. It is the greatest wonder of all.

    

      

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Replies to This Discussion

Here here ! Or is it hear hear!? Never mind. I agree. 

Good graphic Flying Atheist.

Pedantically speaking, the word 'spirituality' specifically refers to the spirit, or soul.  Something supernatural or ecclesiastical.  I personally don't like using the word 'spiritual' or any of its derivatives for that very reason.  I use adjectives such as amazement, awe and wonder, for example, just to avoid any possible misconceptions that I may be religious.  However, I do admit to referring to myself, on occasion, as being an 'old soul' or that music has 'soulful' qualities.  Does that make me a hypocrite?  On the rare occasions when I have to go out in public wearing a suit and tie on a Sunday, I always dread that people will think I'm going to or from church.......and I hate the thought of that!      

Carl, I think it is the limitation of language we deal with to some respect, not our feelings. Using the same words, sayings for multiple meanings dilutes the message, at times. To translate our thoughts and feelings into a discourse that others can understand is fraught with peril.

At other times, it can cut as sharp as a laser. Personally, I don't like the word spiritual either. Or faith. Or belief. These terms, and others are so loaded, so emotionally charged. Yet they do seem to cut the mustard as nothing else at times. Like you, I prefer wonder, awe, reality, logic. Myths and stories have a place, as long as we can draw a sharp line in the sand and understand them for what they are, as an illuminating, often poetic glimpse into the psyche of man. We are, after all, the story tellers. 

Think of "spirit" in the sense of vodka being a spirit just because there's condensation of alcohol happening on the glass above the liquid surface. There are etymological precedents, along the lines that anything sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from to those less knowledgeable. This makes me more comfortable with its secularized use.

Carl, I share your perception, wholeheartedly.

SOME but not all atheists whine and plead to be treated decently by religious and spiritual folk but when these specific atheists go on anti-religious tirades about how every single thing about religion and spirituality is inherently evil and has not done much good and needs to be annihilated from this earth forever , they begin to look like the rabid fundamentalist religious persons that they scorn.  If so many of us act like that than it is no wonder we get treated with disdain by so many.  We can hold different beliefs and still treat each other as humans. We can still criticize and condemn harmful actions that people carry out in the name of religion. But acting like a rabid-bitten screaming lunatic isn't going to solve our problem about changing the negative way in which many religious and spiritual people view us.

I wonder what the reaction would be to a group on AN, "The good side of religion".  To give a bit of counterbalance to all the anti-religion - a space for people who appreciate some aspects of religion. 

It might be swamped by anti-religion posts, though. 

 

Of course there's a good side to religion, a side I missed very much when I left the church. It's the ready-made social environment that accepts you when you grow up in there, an environment that provides opportunities to play, learn and study people. When you're young it's as comfortable as a cradle, and when you grow up it becomes suffocating.

But any sort of community could be such an environment.

Yes, and sometimes religion makes people kinder to other people, gets them through difficult times, makes them more cheerful.  It may even enable extraordinary heroism.

I don't disagree with the anti-religious talk, it's just one-sided. 

ps To me the anti-religious feelings of ex-religious people here, speaks of the suppressed dark side of religion - the unacknowledged negative aspects of the good aspects that religious people celebrate so much. 

That's why I don't have any inclination to say anything good about religion when people are saying anti-religious things.  I don't want to - in effect - support the repression of that dark side of religion. 

I was brought up non-religiously, except that we went to Easter services sometimes to make my grandmother happy. 

So I'm not ex-religious myself.  But I'm like a second-generation religion survivor.  My mother's father was a Baptist preacher, and my mother sometimes went to church 5 times a day, she said. 

She came back to religion in a curious New Agey sort of way when she was older, she read the Course in Miracles and started dialoguing with Jesus.  This quasi-return to her childhood seems to have had a meaning for her. 

It seems that one's childhood religious training exerts a powerful pull even after one has rejected it - it keeps on influencing one's thinking. 

Chris, I also missed the social life after I left mormonism.  Of course, it came with a price.  The price was being a conformist sheep, or being rejected.  One of the many troubles with religion, is the good parts always come with a high price.

I'm of the opinion that the good parts of religion could be accomplished without religion, and without the high cost.

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