It's one of those "you learn something new every day" kind of things…it started with a question on Facebook, "Are you religious?". I answered "yes", because I was born and raised Catholic, even went to both a Catholic elementary school and a Catholic high school.

But then I read comments of the post, and people were saying that "no, they're spiritual but not religious". And this got me thinking…what would I be considered?

I looked up a few articles that explained a bit about the differences between the two. To quote , "In the seeking of such meaning, religion and spirituality come together. Spirituality highlights qualities such as caring, kindness, compassion, tolerance, service and community, and, in its truest sense, so does religion. But where religion is defined by its tradition and teachings, spirituality is defined by what is real in our own experience, arising from an inner search within ourselves, the finding of our own truth."

Is it possible to be both religious and spiritual? I know that sounds incredibly stupid to ask but it almost seems like some definitions of the two are that they are mutually exclusive.

In any event, this is what I am – I was born and raised Catholic, and still go to mass (though not nearly as much as I used to due to my Mom's personal anger with God), but I study Buddhism and Zen teachings. I believe the Buddha existed, but do not worship him as a god. Instead, I see him as a teacher. In addition, I have begun exploring other religions not to condemn or forsake my own, but to learn from them with an open mind. I'd love to learn more about Hinduism since there are similarities to Buddhism. I know a little about Judaism and Islam but would be interested in learning more, maybe even trying to read the Torah and Quran. I am absolutely fascinated with Wiccans and Druids, and have come to find they are incredibly nice and humble people as I have met a few personally. I love learning about the Native Americans' views on God and spirit guides, and am always trying to learn from my totems.

What do you guys think? Does this make me 'spiritual', am I still 'religious' since I'm going to the same church I have been for 26 years? Or am I both?

Also if you happen to follow any of the religious/spiritual paths I mentioned above and have any good links, suggestions, or anything to help me learn more about them, I'd be honored to check out anything you have to offer. I know a good bit about Christianity since I was raised as a Catholic, but I'd love to learn more about Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Wicca, and Druidism.

Thanks guys, please feel free to discuss any of this below.

  1. bete_mal_fait 10 years ago

    It is completely possible to be both; to ultimately separate them would attempt a false dichotomy.  It’s somewhat similar to extroversion and introversion – certain individuals may express a given quality strongly, but outside of psychological disorders, it is rare for an individual to have traits from only one side of the spectrum – most people will be some combination of the two.  That is why there is room for confusion, as you point out, especially since the loudest proponents of both sides tend towards extremity of belief: that religion is an intellectual mass-suicide, or that so-called spirituality is merely argumentativeness or self-reinforcing egotism.  It’s kind of a Lilliput/Blefuscu confrontation, with both sides taking their stances and deepening the grievances until the original difference in opinions is no more than a rallying cry for further animosity.

    On the other hand, there is a moderate majority, and like yourself, they ask questions and look for answers.  My editorializing aside, I identify as more spiritual since I’m both a little lost and a little ambivalent about my Catholic upbringing; I was deeply upset by the choices of our local priest, but I still enjoy Christmas Mass with my family.  I read the Bible, but also Greek and Roman philosophers, and I think that exploring empyreal and rational beliefs is essential to developing both religion and spirituality.

    P.S.- being Catholic, you may already be familiar with other aspects of Christianity, but if you ever look into the various Protestant or Eastern Orthodox systems, they are quite intriguing in their own right.  Good luck, and have fun!

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  2. Love_Shines 10 years ago

    There are a few different explanations as to where the word religion got it's roots from in latin, from re ligare which means "whatever brings us together, or connects, binds". Re meaning again, Ligare meaning connect or reconnect.  I like to think of this explanation.  Originally I think it's something that should connect us and bring us together.  The modern way of using the word religion brings to mind to me at least: blind faith, devotion, control.  A lot of things negatively connected towards religion in general I think.  There are of course, wonderful people who consider themselves religious, who do good things. When I think of spirituality I think of someone who might hold the same core beliefs (or not even) but doesn't subscribe to any specific docrine, creed, or rules.  Basically thinking for themselves.  When I say I am spiritual what I mean is I feel connected to things, kind of how I would look at what religion should mean.  I do not however believe in a deity or any gods for that matter as factual.  I like to play with ideas and thoughts and I love looking outside of the box but a lot of the things I meddle with in my head I do not take as fact, merely thinking and experimenting.  In the end they are just labels to describe yourself, what matters is what you do with them and the kind of person you are, but they certainly do NOT make you a good person.  I consider myself an agnostic atheist.  I don't personally believe there are any deities out there that are real, but how can I claim to know for sure, I'm just going by my experiences and feelings towards the matter.  I also go by facts too, what facts I know.  I hope this helps at least some.  Take care.  Mike.

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