Are You A "Spiritual But Not Religious" Person?

Have you ever wondered if you were more of a spiritual person or more of a religious person? Here are 15 ways to help you figure it out!

By Julie Coleman
Are You A "Spiritual But Not Religious" Person?

How To Tell If You Are More of the Spiritual or Religious Type

This was my first topless picture last year 😳 ✨ I admit when I did this I was crying and feeling like the past was haunting my body and mind. ✨ Spirit stepped into remind me the greater mission was not about my image, in fact it was the opposite. ✨ For those who have been afraid, it was never your fault. ✨ When you grow up you will understand that beauty is a tool for self-expression, not validation of “enough” ✨ The writings on my stomache: Religion, Sinful, Gorda came from judgment. I feared God because I felt good girls always were conservative, serious face, and only did good. I punished myself since I didn’t make good choices. ✨ Now, I am here accepting you despite what the judgmental friends tell you. ✨ With me you are accepted by your sexual acceptance. Photo Credit @darling_taylor 📸 #selflove #naked #vulnerable #latina #spiritualnotreligious #loveismyreligion

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Have you ever heard the term, "I am spiritual, but I am not religious?" Have you ever heard someone say that they were an atheist, but that they were spiritual? How does this make any sense, you ask? Is there a difference between the two? The answer is yes; there is a huge difference between being a spiritual person and being religious. Each of these words has a different meaning, and each of them carries a different belief system. There are some different religions around the globe. Some religions are created by combining with other philosophies. When someone begins to think along spiritual lines, they will often rebel against the religion with which they were raised. On the other hand, if a spiritual person is not getting enough from their belief system, they will turn to a religious order for the structure that they need to complete that spiritual side. The following article will give you a good idea of the differences. However, just because topic states that one believes more strongly than the other, it does not mean that individuals don't vary when it comes to each level of practice. This is just a general guideline to the differences between a spiritual and religious person.

You Are More Spiritual If You Like Freedom From Rules

Religion has a particular system of worship, and with this comes a set of rules for which one lives. It doesn't matter what type of religion it is. Christians, Hindus, Zen Buddhists and all other religious individuals have rules to live by that are written in their texts. A religious person lives by these rules. These rules are the foundation of a belief system. If you follow certain rules, you will be rewarded. If you break them, you will be punished. The rules that are developed come from the religion's God or Gods, and they have continued throughout generations. They are the fundamental truths. For example, the Christian and Judea religions believe in the Ten Commandments. It is the rules of the belief system not to lie, steal, commit adultery, etc. Religious individuals use these rules to guide their everyday decision making. It is not to say that spiritual people do not like rules. However, they do not live by these rules as a religious person does. Because they do not believe in a particular religion, they do not have particular rules that dictate what they should and should not do. You are more likely a spiritual person, if you apply spiritual principles to your life, not just attempt to follow pre-written rules. With the changing of times and codes of behavior, spirituality allows for a person to be flexible with situations. They attune themselves to the universe for guidance, without fear that they will be punished if they "have" to break a rule.

You Are More Religious if You Like Symbolic Icons

Every person gives meaning to particular objects. Whether it is a sentimental photograph or a lucky rabbit's foot, it is natural for the human condition to associate tangible things with a particular meaning. Religion and spirituality can bring about more meaning to normal, everyday objects. Okay, so spiritual people and religious people both have icons that they might idolize. However, religious individuals have a much stronger association with particular objects. An icon is a religious object or picture that has a meaning in any given religion. For example, Christians associate meaning to pictures of Christ, the Bible, bread, wine, the crucifix and other elements. Other religions also place significance on artifacts that have meaning to their religion as well. Spiritual people also have strong connections to certain objects but differently. Spiritual people look more toward nature and natural elements. They do not place meaning on superficial items. They do not look at cross purchased at a dollar store and believe that it has strong meaning to their lives. A spiritual person is more in touch with their spirituality, rather than items that are supposed to represent their spirituality. Spiritual people will look more toward signs than they will toward objects. Objects will raise certain feelings or reminders, but signs will act as guideposts to bring a person to a decision in their life when they are at crossroads. Religious people don't usually look for signs; it is often black and white. However, spiritual people will look for constant guidance, and it will be presented to them, rather than looking to an object for guidance and awaiting an answer.

You Are More Spiritual If You Do Good Out Of Love, Not Fear

Any atheist will tell you that one of the reasons they do not believe in a God, is because you are forced to live your life out of fear. There is a strong relationship between fear and religion. If you do not follow the rules, if you do not treat people a certain way, or if you do not have a strong enough "faith" there is this imminent fear that you will be punished. How can you love someone out of fear? If you are a spiritual person, you love people and your "God" (whatever that might be) out of the pure want to love, not because you believe you will be punished if you don't. Spiritual people have a strong feeling of love that comes from the inside, not because they are trained or are forced to love someone because their religion dictates it. A spiritual person believes that love is the foundation of all human connection and connection to everything in the universe. Religions will classify who it is okay to love and who it is not, based on the actions or preferences of that individual. If you do not agree with these precepts, you might be forced not to love someone, even when everything inside of you does. Many marriages do not take place because two religions are not "allowed" to coexist with one another. If you love someone out of love, and it has no connection to fear of what God or your church will think of you, you may be more of a spiritual person than a religious person.

You Are More Religious If You Want To Be Told, Rather Than Discover It For Yourself

This blog by Suzanne Giesemann comes recommended by Rev. Paula! Take a look! “And so, you are not perfect. You acted very human, and you are filled with regrets. It wasn’t just one thing. It was a veritable cascade of human behaviors. Did anyone get hurt? Perhaps. Welcome to being human. And now you are doing a very good job of judging yourself. You cannot seem to forgive yourself. What to do? Remind yourself that this is how the human learns. In fact, you learn best from your transgressions. What means this word, “transgression”? A traveling away from … going beyond … and that is why you are feeling remorse: you traveled away from your true nature as Love. You cannot escape this Love, for it is your Source. You simply forgot yourself for a while. It happens to the human. Please put yourself back in awareness of your Higher Self sitting in that higher perspective watching your human choices and behavior. Your Higher Self is now shaking its head and saying about your transgressions, “Well, that didn’t work.” Yes, indeed. That did not work to extend love. And through those trials and subsequent errors, you learned. Will you do it again? Perhaps, as long as you forget the Higher Self and focus on the story, but most likely not, for pain is an excellent learning tool. Forgive yourself for being human. Make amends, and make love your top priority.” #spiritualsoulcenter #wilmingtonNC #ILM #grow #serve #transform #reverendpaula #spiritualnotreligious #spiritualjourney #namaste #unity #spirit #peace #yoga

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Religious texts have been passed on to man throughout many generations. For centuries, these texts have told people how to live and what to believe. Religious people's belief system is based on these texts. It is easy to live a life when someone tells you what to you each step of the way. When you have a question, you just look it up in your religious text, right? A spiritual person operates differently. They do not want to be told — they want to discover how to live life themselves. They want the universe to guide them because each circumstance and event requires a different reaction. Spiritual people try to tune themselves into signs and milestones, and they take these lessons and create a path of their own. Many spiritual advisers came to be, because they listened within, instead of listening to outside doctrines. They have found their path to enlightenment, and they share their learning and understanding, not to tell another what to do or how to live, but to help them find a path that will work for them.

You Are More Spiritual When You Seek To Unify, Not Separate

Religions are very strong on their orders. Many of them will outline how a person shall live, to make their God happy, and therefore if other people do not follow these same creeds, one should separate themselves from the relationship. As stated above, there are many religions that refuse to let their sons or daughters marry someone of another religion. They state that other religions are wrong. They state that another person's belief is evil. It creates separation. If you look at the world today, many global conflicts are due to the separation created by religion. Spiritual people operate a little differently, however. A spiritual person does not unite themselves with a particular creed. They love based on the feeling that they get from someone. They unify with individuals from all walks of life. If you are a spiritual person, you are more likely to run into "kindred spirits" or individuals who may not share the same religion, but share the same connection to the universe that you do. Spirituality tends to unite individuals and blurs the lines between the separation between man. It is very rare that you see spiritual people fighting each other. Although religious people are very united within their rite, they tend to separate themselves from associating with individuals of another belief system. This is why they say that politics and religion should never be talked about in public.

You Are More Religious If You Prefer a Narrow Path, Versus an Open Path

Many religions have specific steps that you need to take throughout life. They are called Rites of Passage. One's path is very narrow and follows what it destined, not what is chosen. Granted we all have free will, but religions will outline that everything is destined and pre-planned by the Divine. Many religions will give parents or the Church power to instruct an individual on what they are to do with their lives — who to marry, what occupation to have, and what they are allowed and not allowed to do. Open-mindedness is a key element in spirituality. When you are not zoned into what a religion is preaching, you are more open to learning who you are and your meaning and place within the universe and humanity. Having open-mindedness will allow for your path to remain, well, open. You can remain flexible based on what you learn and how you grow. Spiritual people tend to think outside of the box. Spiritual people tend to have a much more open path and go with the flow. They operate more by their free will and how it aligns with the universe, versus staying on a narrow path that leaves a person close-minded to open options. You can explore paths from multiple belief systems, and not limit your thoughts or actions. You are willing to try new things without having to check to see if it is okay. Your path is what you make it, not what is outlined for you.

You Are More Spiritual If You Believe In Karmic Consequence, Not Punishment From God

If you have ever grown up in a religious home, you know the threat of doing something wrong and feeling like God is watching you. You are going to be punished by God if you lie. You will be punished by God if you are mean to your mother. Punishment for your actions is the determinant used by households and religions to "guide" a person to do the right thing. Spiritual people have a different outlook. They don't believe that the universe or their God is out to get them. They believe that their actions bring karmic consequences. If you do something wrong, it will come back to you one way or another — not just after you die. Karma is something that many spiritual individuals believe in, but not all. Karma is how the universe teaches you a lesson. You may kill a bug, and then stub your tow two minutes later. Although there is no scientific basis for this concept, it is the belief in it. Individuals who are spiritual believe that the universe will maintain a balance — and so they try to do good things to avoid a karmic reaction. They do not believe that God is going to punish them — they believe they are setting punishment for themselves. It is a way of self-guidance to do the right thing.

You Are More Religious If You Believe in God, Over Nature


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Individuals who are more spiritual tend to have a strong connection with nature. They look at the sky, water, earth, weather, fire and all other elements as their guide. They believe in things such as astrology or numerology, which are united to natural circumstances. They follow the paths of nature, the rules of nature and the energy that is omitted. Most religious individuals believe in a particular God, the one on which their religion is based. Jesus and Buddha were not religious people — they were spiritual people, who had religions named after them. However, more spiritualities in the world are based on nature than anything else. There are many religions based on nature as well (like Zen or Native American religions), but they follow very specific rituals and codes as well. A spiritual person feels a very strong connection to the natural environment around them. They understand the part that they play in the food chain, and they respect it. Many spiritual individuals will seek a life that is spent in nature, like homesteading or hobbies like gardening. They will follow the phases of nature and are attuned to their internal reactions to it. There are spiritual people who believe in a God. They believe in an entity that is overseeing but acts as a guide, not something to be fearful of. However, the belief in God is more on a universal side, and even with this being said, it is only one facet of a spiritual belief. The fact that their God is nameless shows a distinct difference between religious and spiritual individuals.

You Are More Spiritual If You Like Individuality Over Conformity

There is no doubt that when you practice a particular religion, you are conforming to the constructs that are set out for you. How you dress, what you say, who you associate with — all of these things are all a part of conforming to a particular religious lifestyle. Religious individuals enjoy the structure of conformity. It gives them peace, knowing that they belong to a group of people that all practice the same thing, worship the same God, and exercise the same beliefs. Spiritual people tend to be more creative and practice individualism. They don't do this because they want to be different, they naturally are. Because a spiritual does not need to conform, they are more themselves, allowing for their natural talents and characteristics to shine. They pride themselves on the gifts that they are given and tend to be a little more eccentric. Many times, if you think of a spiritual person, you think of this meditating guru who eats vegan butter and wears organic cotton yoga pants. This isn't necessarily so. Many spiritual people do not have this "hippie" demeanor. They can be the businessman closing a million dollar deal. But they do it because it is their calling. Spiritual individuals will act on their passions and gifts, regardless of what they are, without worrying about what others think about them.

You Are More Religious If You Follow Another's Experience Versus Paving Your Own

#temples #sanctuary #spiritualnotreligious #meditationtime #reflections #newyearresolutions

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Most religions have one person that they look to as their leader. This person may have lived thousands of years ago, but there is always someone who takes the reigns and credit for beginning a particular sect. They may not know it at the time, but years later, they are credited. There are several examples of this throughout history. Those who have written religious texts like the I Ching were not looked at as religious leaders at the time — but rather they were looked at as spiritual advisers. As they began to create a following for their beliefs, their philosophies became more intricate, and religions were based on them. Spirituality does not work like that. A spiritual person does not seek to lead others to believe what they do. In turn, they do not expect to be led by someone else's path. They may take light of the inspiration that they have gained from conversations or observations, but they do not seek to copy another person's path. They want to create their own. Spiritual people will look at religious people and believe that they are constrained by their religion. If something is moving you that is different than what is outlined in a particular sect (for example, you are gay, but the Bible is against homosexuality), it makes it difficult. You constantly feel like you are doing something wrong. On the other hand, spiritual leaders become what they are because they walk the unbeaten path. They set the example for others by sharing what they did, and they inspire others. However, they recognize that everyone walks their path, and the building of ideas brings more universal truths, and therefore are open to new ideas.

You Are More Spiritual If You Like To Be Independent, Versus Dependent On Others

Independence is what gives meaning to spirituality. A religious person does not strive to be an individual; they strive for dependence on God. That is one of the problems an atheist may have with religion. When you are dependent, you rely on other's to tell you what to do, how to do it, when to do it — and all will be supplied to you. An independent person does not wait for another person or entity to tell them what to do, and therefore a spiritual person tends to be more independent. They believe that their independence has meaning — that they are aligning with a unique aspect of the universe. They do not depend on God to get them out of a situation, or to reward them when they do good things. They do not depend on the rules of the church to make their decisions for them. A non-religious person will want to do as their free will dictates, within the limitations of natural law. They know if they got themselves into a situation, they need to get themselves out of it or learn the lesson. Though prayer plays a major part in both spirituality and religion, it takes on two different forms. A religious person will pray to God to help them, because they are dependent on the outcome, while a spiritual individual will seek understanding and guidance to help them make a decision.

You Are More Religious If You Work From Your Beliefs Versus Attuning Your Beliefs

It is a lot easier to go with the flow of what is laid out for you. When you have a blueprint to work from, you work from your belief system. There is meaning to everything that you do because you are told what the meaning is ahead of time. An atheist does not believe in being told what to do, especially by an entity that they cannot see. However, they may see more meaning in the universe and the experiences around them. Most religious individuals will work from their beliefs. Depending on their religion, they will follow the guidelines that are set out for them, and find meaning in everyday experiences that align with that. They are closed off onto this path, where two things that may not have any meaning suddenly will hold value because they hold it in light of their religion. A spiritual person works in an opposite way. They attune themselves to nature and remain flexible to the environment around them. Again, an atheist can still be a spiritual person — they are not completely locked away from believing in something deeper than biology. Many of them do believe in the soul. They will align their souls to what is around them, and they are not confined to following a specific path. Attuning your beliefs versus working for them is kind of like liking peanut butter because you like the taste of it, instead of eating it just because you have watched your mother eat it for twenty years. You are driven by what interests you and what the universe is opening up to you, rather than just exercising what you have learned over an extended period.

If You Seek The Universal Versus Following a Code or Creed, You Are More Spiritual

Most spiritual people will tell you that the universe or energy is what guides them. That is why an atheist will tell you that they are spiritual and not religious. An atheist does not believe in God. Some spiritual people will say that they believe in a God, but not one of a particular sect. Most spiritual people attune themselves to energy. They will feel nature's energy, the energy of different circumstances, and they align themselves with that energy. They believe that the universe is the natural driver of all things. They believe that human beings are run by their ego, and codes and restrictions are barriers to this natural energy. There are many man-made codes that go against universal laws. Most religious people will follow man-made codes even when they don't feel right because that is what is indoctrinated into them. Spiritual people will go against man-made codes if the situation calls for it. They will listen to what the universe tells them — because they know if they break a rule, there is a higher purpose for that. They are doing what the universe is telling them to do, not what man or God is telling them to do.

You Are More Religious If You Do Deeds Because You Have To, Not Because You Want To


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Have you ever attended a church function and just cringed at the volunteer work that you had to do as a "suggestion?" Do you hate being forced into doing something, just because "it is the right thing to do?" Religious works are sometimes enforced on individuals. Practices such as fasting or minimalism are enforced in some religions, and individuals who do not do them are looked at as non-believers because they aren't doing enough "things." There is no way that you will convince an atheist to do something because "God" told them to. An atheist will just laugh at that notion. If there is no substantial, earthly reason to donate ten percent of your paycheck, you are not going to be able to convince an atheist to do so. For religious people, some things are done without consideration — they are just done because that is what is suppose to be done. Spiritual people will pause and think before they do something. It will have to have a reason, or it will have to "feel" right. An atheist is more likely to read a spiritual text because it is interesting, not because it is what is expected or the "right" thing to do. Spiritual words are different than religious works. Religious works are outlined, like a checklist. Spiritual works are done out of the nature that something is driving you to do it. There are many people who practice set religions that do works because they feel God is moving them to do it. Spiritual people feel this same kind of guidance from the universe. They do not do something just because they are told to do it; there are a real reason and internal drive to do it.

Being Religious Or Spiritual Is Neither Right or Wrong, It Is Just Who You Are

This article was not intended to slam a person who is a religious person. It is aimed toward those who may believe that they are more spiritual than religious. If you find that you are part of a particular religion, and it just isn't jiving with your spirit, or it isn't inspiring you, chances are, you are more of the spiritual type. Spirituality blurs the lines between what has been created for you to follow and what you want to follow for yourself. There are many individuals who are happy practicing their religion because they enjoy the structure of it. It is what they were raised with, and they want to carry on the tradition because that is their belief system. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Spiritual individuals just have a different way of looking at things, and that is okay too. The point of life where you find yourself at will also play an influence on whether or not you are spiritual or religious. Many individuals, as they hit "crisis" points in their life, will turn to religion, because spirituality isn't giving them the security that they need. However, there are also individuals, when they move past a crisis point (like a mid-life crisis) that they begin to reflect on who they are, and whether or not their religion is right for them. Some people stay on the same path throughout their entire lives; some people will waver between the two. Regardless if you find yourself to be more spiritual, or more religious, it is important to remember that your spirituality does not necessarily define who you are as a person. It is just what you believe. Take some time to explore options until you find exactly what works for you, whether it has a label or not, and you will find the path that you are supposed to go on.