Hey everyone, I'm a first time poster. I've always identified myself as atheist, but I consider "spirituality" to be separate from religion. Like, we all know that the universe is much bigger than an individual. Nature is much bigger than anything we could ever imagine. You get my drift.
I just believe, personally, that spirituality is something separate from religion. Therefore, I believe that I can be spiritual as an atheist, but in the regards that I have respect for all walks of life, I'm a believer of living and letting live, and that the universe is much bigger than me, and I need a healthy respect for that.
Does that make sense? Please feel free to let me know if I should use a different term. But I usually say "spirit" or "spiritual" because I can attach a separate definition to it outside of "g*d."
I prefer a "sense of wonder and awe" when pondering life and the universe to words like "spiritual". While it is natural for humans to ponder "spirits" they are anything but natural. The pursuit of truth, beauty, morality, and understanding is much more appealing and satisfying than anything "spiritual" to me.
Oh, and welcome to TA..the best thing on the net...
What is your definition of Spirituality and how do you apply it?
I am not sure about the attempt to 'define' it.
I have been places where I felt 'something', like a vast expanse of connection, or an awareness of deep time.
Pyramid Lake Nevada, where you can see successions of extinctions in the beach deposits of shells. The other worldly nature of the tufa deposits on the east side of the lake, like you have been transported to another planet. The palio-indian rock shelters. The occasional discovery of stromalytes in desert that were ancient cyanobacteria structures.
Digging hundreds of soil samples to count insect populations, and the realization that no two samples where alike over sometimes square miles of farm land. You look at the this vast space and realize that the planet might be like this everywhere.
Looking up from a field where I was counting bugs on Broccoli, late afternoon, clear sky, and I had this wonderful feeling that I was inside a huge space habitat because the curve of the land seemed to meet the sky. Walking accross a very large grass field, looking for the effects of root weavels, looking up to see the soft wind rippleing accross the grass, and the quiet hush that seems to be watchful of something wonderful about to happen.
Picking my tomatoes on a warm rainy morning, and noticing what looked like a pink hair weaving in the brease, that was a very long round worm wraped around one of my herbs, wow.
Watching a very large varity of euglena protozoa divid, and experiment with its phototrophic behaviors.
Watching my first fractal develope on my computer when I finally figured it out!
Downloading the 'Deep Sky Survey' data set from a Harvard website, and mapping galaxies by red shift on my computer.
Being asked to help with a 'death watch' for the mother of a friend. Noticing the stillness of the room, once she had passed, and barely noticing the 'event'.
Use whatever definition you like, it's no skin off my nose.
I would say that most atheists eschew the words "spirit" and "spiritual" as being holdovers from religions that believe in souls. I myself don't see much difference at all between believing in a spirit, in a soul, or in a ghost. So, yes, I'd say get rid of that word because of the religious overtones.
I don't know if there's one single better term, but I don't really see any of what you've described as being "spiritual". It's common-sense open-mindedness, if anything. To me, spiritual implies supernatural; not in the specific sense of ghosts or anything, but in the general, vague sense of being deeper than or beyond the material universe. I contend that all of what we think of as "spiritual" is perfectly consistent with the material universe. It's mostly simple human psychology and philosophy.
For me, twelve years in Catholic schools destroyed anything positive in the word.
I do still enjoy the sound of a pipe organ playing New Orleans jazz.
I did twelve years too, almost every day, kneel, stand,sit, kneel, stand, sit. Supervised by a 30ft dying jesus, and choreographed by a funeral organ.
Music is to be judged by its beauty, not the context in which it arises. Similarly, a beautiful painting is beautiful even if the subject matter is religious. I enjoy a lot of Bach's music, even though he always dedicated his creations to God. Likewise, Salvador Dali's religious paintings are magnificent and stunning.
Nah..music is to be judged by whatever criteria one wants. After all, who are you to decide what is beautiful to me. Unless we live in N. Korea.
Did it seem I was proposing that there are aesthetic absolutes? Absolutely not.
I've seen and used a meme on facebook to describe, I think, what you are talking about. The meme reads: "Religion is for those afraid of Hell. Spirituality is for those who've already been there." As a former associate pastor, this statement is not foreign to me at all because - as is my experience - religion is a very destructive and limiting force within humanity. Spirituality, however, is very much a freeing experience and has the potential to unlock things in the human consciousness that might other wise lie either dormant or suppressed by forces outside itself. So in this, there is a difference.
I have often found that those in the church nowadays, who are considered "guardians of the faith," are less concerned with the spiritual growth and expansion of mind within the church and are more concerned with preservation of traditions that have long outlived their usefulness or relevance. This can be seen in simply observing a dying church in which all that is left of it's membership are the grey and white hairs. These members often fail to connect to the younger generation because the younger generation has become far more sophisticated in their knowledge and understanding of the world, and they yearn for something more than just set of dogmatic rules to follow. They want something real and genuine, and something that they can claim for themselves that is, most importantly, alive. You will not find this often in a dank old sanctuary full of stained glass windows, somber, quiet, and stale expressions of life, while funeral music plays through out the building.
Spirituality breathes life into people, religion squashes it. So yes, you do make sense.