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Nowadays an increasing number of people, including many INFJs here, describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious" (SBNR).

I am one such person - for example, identifying myself as SBNR on a dating site I belonged to. But I feel a certain dis-ease about this. One issue is that a sense of easy superiority may get conveyed - as in spiritual being superior to religious. EG "You're a Christian? Um, that's interesting. I'm not religious myself, but I am spiritual" (exaggerated for effect)

Another concern is that "spiritual" can be quite a vague word.

From the wikipedia entry for SBNR Spiritual but not religious - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia :

James Martin, a Jesuit priest, has called the SBNR lifestyle "plain old laziness", stating that "pirituality without religion can become a self-centered complacency divorced from the wisdom of a community".


Two questions therefore:

Do you feel that spiritual but not religious is a valid position? or that it's maybe lazy or too easy?

If you identify as spiritual but not religious (or simply as spiritual) what do you mean by it?​

Plus any wider comments on the subject welcome.
 

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Do you feel that spiritual but not religious is a valid position? or that it's maybe lazy or too easy?
Yes, it is a valid position as there are a couple of extremes to consider here. Religious could be seen as someone that follows a faith rather militantly and strictly while a spiritual person may follow some of it and thus have a much more lax position. Spiritual here could just mean that there is more to us than flesh and bone.

While this may seem rather simple, there is something to be said for the question of how easily does one's views change and what triggers that which could be discussed here. For those that identify as SBNR, there is a question of what kind of higher power framework do you have as it can vary from, "There's just more to us than this," to a rather complex structure that doesn't fall under the doctrines of most traditional faiths. Flying spaghetti monsters may be possible in some cases of course.

If you identify as spiritual but not religious (or simply as spiritual) what do you mean by it?
As I noted above, there is something to be said for how one interprets these terms. To my mind, spiritual is merely to imply there is more to us than flesh and bone. That extra is the spirit we have and can fall under nearly any faith aside from atheism. For some people, it may be called the Divine, for some it is God, to others it is part of Source, others could call it part of the Universe. Realistically, I'm not that hung up on terms for it. Religious is about having structural rules that lock someone in to some degree. The categorization can work in someone's favor or backfire as different communities can exist on different levels here.

I can ascribe to calling myself SBNR as it makes sense that I have an evolving faith that may or may not be common within the church communities I attend. Religious can get in the way of things from my view though for those that this works fine, great power to you for that. For me, I'm taking a different path.
 

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I quess I fit the description. I don't think I'm being lazy at all as my path has been long and required a lot of thought. I have worked hard to form and understanding of the humankind in regard of spirituality that resonates the most truth to me. I have not had anyone to easily follow on this. Or I just haven't been lucky enough to find people who have ended up with similar result.

I believe every human being has an innate potential to experience "holy", "sacred". I have had this experience where I felt oneness in and with the universe and it was pure euphoria. This is the best way I can describe it but I doubt no-one who has not felt it themselves would completely understand. I have reached this state of mind when I were in labour giving birth to my youngest child. It was amazing, like an ultimate meditation. Mind blowing. But it has not been the only time. I have had glimpses of it during the everyday normal life. It is an experience that can change a person, because it feels like the purest possible love.

This experience I believe it is what many people interpret to be god or the holy spirit or whatever god they see most plausible. I think the key word here is interpretation. The experience is so way out of proportion compared to the way human brain normally functions and experiences life and as we have a significant natural tendency to find causalities and meanings in our experiences, the experience might seem like one that just has to have some deeper meaning. I'm happy to view it as an amazing state of mind and not to go any further with it. For some people it just doesn't make sense and feel true that it would just be about brain chemicals and an unususal feeling. It feels like so much more, so grandiose!

Maybe it is the feeling of the universe? Maybe it is the ability to think that deprives humans of the feeling. Maybe the animals are able to feel it more easily. Just look at a healthy contended animal. It doesn't worry about the future or think about the past. It just is in the present and seems so.. happy. They just plainly accept what is and live with it.

To me the experience and my way to explain it has given hope and strenghtened my will to do good. I fear death less and am grateful for my time here in this form called me. I have less fear in general. Not that I'm free from fear, far from it! I value the experience and aim towards the most balancedand healthy me because I think that is the way for a humang being to get closest to this oneness with the universe.

This is how I am spiritual. And an atheist.
 

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Do you feel that spiritual but not religious is a valid position? or that it's maybe lazy or too easy?
I definitely feel that it's a valid position. I see nothing wrong with looking at the world/universe with awe that everything is so connected and beautiful. People can create meaning/purpose for their lives and care about other people and the earth because they have intrinsic value. I don't see spirituality as lazy or easy at all. In fact, I'd say it was quite the challenge to finally be content with my own ideas about life and get away from a religious mindset. It's hard to accept that there is just this one life, but once you do, you can really appreciate it and learn how special and meaningful it is. I'd say it's easier to be spiritual and religious because they often go together. It's harder to pull them apart and really explore and find out what you believe, if you know what I mean.

If you identify as spiritual but not religious (or simply as spiritual) what do you mean by it?
To me, being spiritual is really just looking at the universe/your own life and viewing it as more than just a physical thing. It incorporates any thoughts and emotions that may display that there is something more to life than just surviving. It can be something like appreciating the beauty of nature, or it can be finding your purpose in life, whether it's to learn/experience as much as you can, try to make other peoples' lives better, fall in love, etc. It's being able to find your peace with the world and seeing what a gift life is. For myself personally, I really increased my spirituality while studying biology/psychology/evolution. I am just amazed at the complexity of the human body (particularly the brain!) and it's really just mindblowing that life exists at all. And evolution just made me realize how connected I am to everything else around me that I can see and experience. It makes the world a truly special and awesome thing. I consider myself to be agnostic/atheist, but I also really relate to pantheism, which views "god" as energy/the universe. This really makes sense to me, and further helps me feel connected to something greater than myself. Knowing that this is the only life I have, it really makes me want to make sure I'm spending my time wisely and also helping other people. If this is their only chance, I want to maximize their happiness and make sure it counts. Hopefully this was somewhat easy to follow because it's hard putting it into words.
 

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It's a valid position but most of the time irrelevant. People always clam to be spiritual but not religious when asked if they are religious, its irrelevant because religion is more then just spirituality. It's like answer the same question with "not religious but moral". People who answer the question that way are:

1. Ignorant of religion

or

2. Trying to appease the person asking.
 

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I'll define "spirituality" as belief in something True that lies beyond human perception.
In addition to the above, "religion" is belief that the Truth expects certain behaviors from humanity. By following suit, an end goal will be reached.
In this context, I'm choosing to define "Truth" as the intention behind creation (and the One who intends).

If there is a Truth, and that Truth obligates action, then simply acknowledging that Truth is not enough- you must live it.
(Religion > spirituality).

If there is a Truth that doesn't obligate action, then investing yourself in a lifestyle that is supposedly "correct" is actually pointless.
(Spirituality > religion).

If there is no Truth and everything is random, then beliefs and actions are equally meaningless apart from the psychological and societal benefits that may result.
(Spirituality=religion).

So rather than striving to be "spiritual" or "religious," just strive to find the Truth (if there is one). Let Truth guide your beliefs and actions.

PS. You're probably wondering how you can find the Truth if it lies beyond perception. Here's the short answer: You can intellectually know the Truth without perceiving the Truth. But that's a whole other discussion.
 

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I was very religious at one time. I wanted to follow all the commandments, . . . anyway, i grew up. I have been involved in five different Christian religions,as a member or active participant. I see 'religious' as in "he washes his car religiously every Saturday.' meaning consistent. Problem is, each religion condemns the others - either mildly or to the point of extermination.
All of this gets caught up in an unstated, supposedly universal, definition of God, usually the Judeo-Christian concept - but there is no real agreement.

I shocked my contemporaries once years ago by stating that on a world far, far across the universe and intelligent being comes in from the fields and sits down with the family to eat. Everyone takes a reverent posture and the head of the family gives thanks for the food - to the same God we pray to. Nope, God is like us, they said, and Budist, Hindus, Jainist, Wiccans and that other Christian curch around the corner are all going to burn in Hell because they do not believe as I do.

It is like the three blind men feeling up an elephant: an elephant was what to each what was individually iexperienced. When I say I have experienced God, I have been visited by angels in a dream, that God has spoken to me, it is understood in their terms - not mine. And it is thus considered by many to be blaspheme.
But some church members I know are very spiritual and adhere to the basic tenats of their church.
I believe spirituality to me transcends religion, but does not preclude it.
 

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Yes, seeming like two opposite things. But to take spirituality seriously, the standards are even higher than to be religious - almost a higher price to pay. The "fad" style of spirituality of today is not necessarily a better place to be.

Which is why I think it is likely just as unpopular as religion. But it could go either way. A religious person can be spiritual too, it is a matter of the heart within.
 

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Hi jbking, I'm back to being neutral emotions have subsided. Thanks for your replies and help. Are you into a spiritual path that you'd like to talk about? You are knowledgeable in many subjects :)
 

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spir·i·tu·al(sp
l)
adj.1. Of, relating to, consisting of, or having the nature of spirit; not tangible or material. See Synonyms at immaterial.
2. Of, concerned with, or affecting the soul.
3. Of, from, or relating to God; deific.
4. Of or belonging to a church or religion; sacred.
5. Relating to or having the nature of spirits or a spirit; supernatural.

I relate/identify with the second definition.

I think of spirituality in such terms as honesty (even when it might not immediately gratify me, to be). I think of it as knowledge seeking and avoiding stagnation. I think of it as harmony. When I'm in nature I think it reminds me of all the energy, where it comes from, the interactions, and the idea of being apart of that, and of keeping it moving forward and outward.

-And I'm an Atheist. (That's just a snippet of how I view spirituality.)

 

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I think this kind of goes along with @Northwind's thread about young people leaving organised churches.

'Religious' can take on many meanings, but I think there is one particular one of very conservative, hardline 'these are the rules' which many of us don't like, and that is what we mean when we say 'not religious'.

I do now know if I describe myself as 'not religious'. I pray, I read my Bible (not as often as I should), I regularly attend worship.

However, I think an important thing coming through here, and how I define spiritual, is a placing of importance not solely on the organised part of religion, but on us ourselves enjoying God in a personal way.

I don't want to get into debates about who is right and who is wrong, I want deep and meaningful discussions.

But most of all, I want to learn to follow, not the path which everyone before me has taken, but the path God has set before me, and so, if that path takes me away from organised religion, so be it.

It is not easy, it fact it is scary at times.

To truly be spiritual I think takes more effort than to merely go through the religious routine.

I don't think I am there yet. But I endevour to get there.
 

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James Martin, a Jesuit priest, has called the SBNR lifestyle "plain old laziness", stating that "pirituality without religion can become a self-centered complacency divorced from the wisdom of a community".
This is nothing but a fearful defence against even the slightest notion of esoterism - and for the sake of what, "wisdom of a community"? Sounds like COLLECTIVE LAZINESS to my ear.
 

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What I find interesting about spirituality and modern people is that most people feel that if they "do as they please" in life, even if they are doing things that they "think" are good that they are making up spirituality.

Why re-invent the wheel. Eight-fold path has already been written, scriptures are already in place, Bibles are there, or whatever principles are followed in Christianity but somehow the knowledge of an un-enlightened person is better than those of the great teachers in the past and better than following spiritual principles. I don't get this. I just listen when people tell me this stuff.

There is one lady I met at a brunch that asked me advice on how to remedy her lack of sleep, and asked me about meditation. I saw it coming, she just wanted to get me started so that she can talk about herself. So I asked her what she was interested in, if she made prayers before bed. I suggested that she try using surrender and asking for protection from any energies that are disturbing her rest - and she said "My god doesn't do that" I was like, um ok. [stopped discussion]
 

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Do you feel that spiritual but not religious is a valid position? or that it's maybe lazy or too easy?
I see it only as valid under certain exceptional conditions. When properly understood, it's really next to impossible to separate religion and spirituality without distorting either in the process.

The point of any authentic religious or spiritual path is to connect with the Absolute, the Ground of all Being, the Logos, Tao, etc. The problem with the whole buzz about "spirituality" nowadays, especially as seen in the New Age variety, is more about self-esteem and does appeal to a certain complacent mentality that prevails in affluent Western societies that doesn't require much in the way of self-discipline nor self-sacrifice. God is pretty much whatever you want it to be to satisfy your ego, God is made in your image. This is contrary to actually seeking and connecting with God as he actually is.

There's also a significant problem with the manner in which different traditions(especially Eastern religions) are misinterpreted to suit this mentality than actually reflecting the true nature of those religions, which when examined closely resembles Western religions more than you might think.

Huston Smith gives a good commentary on this issue: http://www.tricycle.com/my-view/spirituality-versus-religion
 

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From the wikipedia entry for SBNR Spiritual but not religious - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia :

James Martin, a Jesuit priest, has called the SBNR lifestyle "plain old laziness", stating that "pirituality without religion can become a self-centered complacency divorced from the wisdom of a community".

Two questions therefore:

Do you feel that spiritual but not religious is a valid position? or that it's maybe lazy or too easy?

If you identify as spiritual but not religious (or simply as spiritual) what do you mean by it?​

Plus any wider comments on the subject welcome.


Okay, first off, I'll open by saying that I'm am (hesitant to call myself) an atheist.. I hesitate, because of the large amount of douches who parade themselves as the enlightened atheists. Still, I consider myself an atheist who's open minded.
Soo to the point. (I am a former non-denominational Christian, btw.)

1.Yes, it's a valid position.
You can be lazy and subscribe to a religion.
You can be religious but not spiritual.
You can also feel there is a spiritual element to life, but not believe in any of the organized religions out there.

Note, it is somewhat contradictory to state something as laziness, and then say that it "can become" self centered.
Not that it is by nature.

I don't really have anything for number two.. I only somewhat recently solidified my position as a non-Christian, after months of debate and heavy research (yes, my decision to deconvert happened after heavy amounts of bible reading, potential flaws that may or may not be because of poor translations aside, I realized that I have been in philosophical dissonance with the church and the Bible for quite a while..)

Soo perhaps I'm not spiritual in any sense, still, I'm open minded.
 

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Do you feel that spiritual but not religious is a valid position? or that it's maybe lazy or too easy?

Yes, of course. There are people out there who get all superior about it but as always, it depends on the person. I don't see the point in making judgments about it being "too lazy" or "too easy" as it's whatever the person defines it as...and that person may well be lazy or they might be the most disciplined person on earth. They're just being honest about what their beliefs are.

If you identify as spiritual but not religious (or simply as spiritual) what do you mean by it?


I personally don't like being lumped into a category called "religious" just because I'm a Christian (another reason why I say "a Christian" rather than just "Christian") only because I don't feel like the word accurately represents what I am. I am a Christian end of story. The word "religious" just brings stiff, ritualistic behavior to my mind which is something that I think hinders the freedom and pure joy that is found in the Holy Spirit. Another thing it makes me think of is people trying to become holy by human effort but that is impossible as we all will fail miserably every time. You don't become holy by your own effort, you become holy by getting close to God because His loving and righteous character naturally rubs off on you through that intimacy. Anything else is just self-righteousness. That's what I believe anyway.

I suppose the term "religious" is often equated with the meaning for the term "legalistic" so that is why I sort of cringe when I hear it.

That being said, it's just a word and I try to take it into context when someone uses it - I try to understand what they mean by it.
 
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Are you into a spiritual path that you'd like to talk about?
Sure, this could be interesting. While there are components of my spiritual path that are taken from Christianity, there are also parts taken from other faiths in varying degrees as I tend to see myself as way more complex than how the Bible portrays a human being. Thus, I take elements from the personal development courses I've taken, books I've read and other stuff to build my own view of how I see the world and my place in it. While I can see that I'm an explorer that is to study various subjects and integrate them into my life, there may be something more that I'm still waiting to stumble upon at some point. I also tend to teach though this comes out in unconventional ways.

While I did have a bunch of Catholic teaching when I was young, my family not going to church tended to leave me mixed. In the last 3.5 years, I have gotten into various Christian communities that has been kind of interesting to see where I go. Some of it has been awesome and some has been more than a little unpleasant though it all played a role in getting me to where I am. What can be interesting to my mind is to consider what kind of cultural differences can be used as an excuse at times for what is and isn't followed at times here. I don't see this as a criticism of Christianity as much as part of the challenge for me to unravel in the remainder of my life. While a lot of the ideals make sense from my view, there are some things that are kind of interesting to imagine as to how does this work in the 21st century rather than the time of Jesus.

Sacred Contracts would be one of those books that I read that came close to blowing my mind. I could identify quite well with the idea of 12 houses and things falling into various houses. Thus, in some ways this has become part of what I take that isn't biblical yet works well for me. I can see how I relate to the world as the Detective that gathers the clues and puts things together to crack the case. At the same time, I can see my higher self as a the Magician that values knowledge and wisdom. Not to say that I don't have my emotional side that can pop up at times, but it was quite interesting for my to construct my wheel where the archetypes of each house are an interesting mix: 1) Gambler, 2) Saboteur, 3) Visionary, 4) Teacher, 5) Paladin, 6) Child, 7) Pioneer, 8) Prostitute, 9) Lover, 10) Magician, 11) Detective, and 12) Victim. Now, the Saboteur, Child, Prostitute and Victim are the four common archetypes so there isn't something there other than Caroline Myss having her own meaning of these types that may differ a bit from how others see it. Even in some of my personal development groups, I can take these archetype ideas and explore how do I become more like that Magician that uses wisdom to make things appear in a way that most would describe as magic? How do I keep my Detective in check as sometimes this is where I can easily hide or become a bit of a Spy if I tap into the dark side of what the Detective can do.

Meanwhile, over in another land, I have various studying of successful people and various principles and ideas they use to get there. So, this is the readings of Jack Canfield and Dan Pink to be somewhat different from the touchy feely stuff that Myss and the strengths people I know touch in terms of why are we here. Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie wrote some books many years ago that have some great insights in terms of life and the world that while the titles aren't that catchy or sexy, they are rather good books. "Think and Grow Rich" and "How to Win Friends and Influence People" are some rather nice books in terms of giving ideas for how to manage relationships and move forward in healthy ways. This becomes part of my challenge, integrate what is the personal stuff that taps into my innards with the other stuff that is more general and looks at the world as a whole.

While this may be confusing, this is barely scratching the surface in a sense as I take from so many different modalities to see how I see myself. Multiple intelligences, MBTI, Enneagram, Disc, Standout, StrengthsFinder, Redemptive Gifts, KWML, Archetypes, Bio-energetics, Insights, Social Styles and Striving Styles are just some of what I use to examine myself so that I can find new ways to take myself apart and build a stronger better version next time. This is without touching the Astrology, Numerology and other stuff that also can be useful at times to look and consider how is this useful for me to know. It can be quite interesting at times for anyone that knows me to see all these different things I do and yet still wonder, "What exactly do you believe?" and what I do believe is a big mish-mash of things really. Life is what you make of it and things will work out are a couple of my deepest beliefs but there are also more than a few other things I remember hearing growing up that was kind of interesting like "Take your time" that I probably heard a thousand times and yet still struggle in finding my way to recognize that more often than not, there really isn't a rush to get things done. There can also be frameworks like I've seen in the Creator's Code, Remarkable Man Project and Higher Laws that can be useful in having signs to know whether or not I'm moving forward in a good way or not.

My Top 10 Lessons in Life : Sources of Insight would be a blog post from almost 4 years ago now that has some life lessons from the poster, but I left a couple of comments with some ideas of what I believe. Oddly enough it is interesting for me to look at what I wrote to see how well some themes stick for me in my life. While it isn't always the easiest thing to see, it can be quite an exotic thing to see one's own evolution over time. While I'm not the same person I was when I made the posts, there are some core components that are likely very much the same.
 

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There is one lady I met at a brunch that asked me advice on how to remedy her lack of sleep, and asked me about meditation. I saw it coming, she just wanted to get me started so that she can talk about herself. So I asked her what she was interested in, if she made prayers before bed. I suggested that she try using surrender and asking for protection from any energies that are disturbing her rest - and she said "My god doesn't do that" I was like, um ok. [stopped discussion]
This reminds me of the wit of George Carlin on the subject:


Ironically enough, in a recent course I had there was quite an answer given. "God doesn't need the money. Man needs to learn how to give." While this may sound cliche or trite, I did think there was some depth there that I'm still processing in a sense.

Last but not least, let's not underestimate Hedonism as something that could be interesting to see if that takes off in America or not.
 

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we arent even sure about the existence of the human spirit, Its very possible that the spirit as we call it its just a psychological construct to maintain are psych in function. We believe we humans are special, that we aren't the same as other animal species, so we create this concept of soul or spirit to explain our own complexities. If this is the case:

That means that if our brain is finite so is our ¨spirit¨.
 

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Thanks to everyone who's posted here.

A key issue is that the meanings of words (and our responses to words - their flavour, if you like) changes over time. As the wikipedia entry for SBNR notes: "Historically, the words religious and spiritual have been used synonymously to describe all the various aspects of the concept of religion." But along the way there's been a change such that now we tend to have a somewhat negative response to religion / religious while feeling more positively about spiritual / spirituality.

What's behind this change? Partly a feeling that religion is a bad thing and often does more harm than good, eg the accusation that "most [or all] wars are caused by religion". I think that this hostility to religion (or skepticism of religion) relates, for the most part, to "the three great monotheistic religions" (Christianity, Islam and Judaism). "Eastern religion" (eg Buddhism, Hinduism) is seen more positively (seen as more spiritual, if you will).

The wikipedia entry also notes that: "the word spiritual came to be associated with the private realm of thought and experience while the word religious came to be connected with the public realm of membership in a religious institution"

I think there is within us an archetypal religious/spiritual need that, sooner or later in our lives, each of us responds to - but now we're more likely to go down a more private ("spiritual") path rather than the more traditional public ("religious") path. Examples of the former include everything that comes under the "New Age" umbrella, Eastern spiritual ideas and perhaps the ideas of Jung.

The relationship between atheism and spirituality is interetsing and thank-you there to @Lumielisa , @imaginaryrobot , @white-knuckle and @Undoubtedly. In recent years I've sometimes commented to people that I consider Richard Dawkins to be a very spiritual person - this, for me, comes across in his appreciation (as a biologist) of the great beauty and astonishing diversity of life on this planet. This view has sometimes caused surprise but no-one has responded "Don't be daft. He can't be spiritual, he's an atheist". This shows, I think, how far the word spiritual has come in its separation from the word religious.

My own answers to the two questions I posed:

Do you feel that spiritual but not religious is a valid position? or that it's maybe lazy or too easy?

Yes, it's valid but it's unsatisfactory. It comes close to implying that you can be one or the other but not both, eg that if you're a Muslim or a Christian you can't be spiritual. Also, "spiritual" is quite vague. Whereas if someone says "I'm a Christian" they're communicating something more precise (though there is of course diversity within Christianity).

If you identify as spiritual but not religious (or simply as spiritual) what do you mean by it?

For me "spiritual" is about the possibility of there being "something more" - more than just the visible surface of things. It's also something about experiencing a sense of wonder - not as a constant state of mind, but at least occasionally. And I think a sense of compassion / love in our response to other people, other species and the world as a whole - again, probably not constantly but at least on occasion.
 
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