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What do you mean by "Spiritual"?

I noticed some nonreligious folks check off the spiritual box. What do you mean by that? According to Oxford Dictionary this is what it means: Spiritual 1. Relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.
‘I'm responsible for his spiritual welfare’
2.‘the spiritual values of life’ (of a person) not concerned with material values or pursuits. 3. Relating to religion or religious belief.
‘the tribe's spiritual leader’ (End Definition) seems to have a rather religious tone to it. Not an attack, just curious.

AustinSkepticus 7 Feb 25

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Of course people use the word differently but it’s not hard to find wooless definitions. In fact, they are probably the more common uses of the word.


  1. of, relating to, or consisting of spirit; incorporeal.


  1. an attitude or principle that inspires, animates, or pervades thought, feeling, or action:
    the spirit of reform.

  2. spirits, feelings or mood with regard to exaltation or depression:
    low spirits; good spirits.

  3. excellent disposition or attitude in terms of vigor, courage, firmness of intent, etc.; mettle:
    That's the spirit!

  4. the dominant tendency or character of anything:
    the spirit of the age.

  5. the general meaning or intent of a statement, document, etc. (opposed to letter):
    the spirit of the law.

To me, spiritual just means focused on attitude or feeling rather than on material things. To cede this useful word to the exclusive use of and ownership by supernaturalists is to do a great disservice to the English language and to the art of communication. I say this in a spirit of defiance, and that's no woo!

skado Level 8 Feb 26, 2018

I no longer use it because it is so generic and means too many things but none at all..but when I did use it, it was a word I used when weaning off of religion was attempting to explain that I still feel overwhelmed by natural beauty and that I know that I'm a real part of the world and literally composed of its elements, and the word spiritual equals religion and god to those who think they are part of the whole world.

I think you described "awe" 😀


Some beleive that the earth trees moon sun have a spirit. I have pagan beliefs and nature is my church

I have no quarrel with pagans/wiccans etc. Have yet to meet one that was judgmental or mean in anyway. Plus their beliefs don't appear to cause harm, especially if compared with abrahamic faiths. It's clear that there has been a historical common struggle with atheists and pagans regarding christianity in older times.


What do I mean by "Spiritual?" Having a few shots with some friends.

Gohan Level 7 Feb 26, 2018

Brilliant absolutely brilliant.

Wouldn't that be "Spiriting" as in the nonexistent verb to consume spirits? 🙂

@irascible 21 year old Glenfiddich is my favourite.


I can only speak for myself, but it means that I think there are things about humanity and the world that we just aren't able to measure scientifically yet. Like the way marital artists can do amazing things by manipulating energy fields in their bodies. Before the ability to measure brainwaves and electrical impulses, it would appear supernatural. I'm open to things that currently fall under that label within reason.

Yes I agree.

Maybe it's a way to say "We don't know everything yet" without letting every bit of Woo in?


Being "spiritual" is just means you believe in Einstein; all matter is a form of energy, so since energy can neither be created nor destroyed, we have always existed and will always exist in some energy form.

"For us believing physicists, the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." -Einstein
Besides, physics indicates that we are participating in creating our own universes/reality, so there's nothing "woo" about it.

“I regard consciousness as fundamental and matter as derivative from consciousness." – Max Planck, theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, 1918 Nobel Prize in Physics


To me, spirituality is "wonderment". It is the joy of the beauty of the life around me. When I feel great and happy my spirits are up. When I feel hurt and sad my spirits are down.

Betty Level 7 Feb 26, 2018

I never use the word myself. I don't take any notice of people who use it. I have words to describe people I admire like brilliant, inspiring, motivating, and intellectual greats, but not spiritual as there is not a meaning I accept, and too many people used it falsely, including about themselves, to mean, as a boast, "I'm on a higher plane than you (so there!)," and I know that bollocks. Pray I never go to India; I would surely offend every jumped up two bit guru in the country, and probably be thrown out.


"Spiritual" , for myself, is the wordless undercurrent of the human condition. We are all creatures who are short lived, biologically flawed, and linked together--whether we want to be--or not. Our intellect can only think so big. We can only jump so high. The gaps in our individual knowledge/experiences is filled by the knowledge/experiences of other human beings.


Here's a link to the first chapter of "Waking up: A guide to spirituality without religion". This seemed spot on to me but I'm a fan of Sam Harris.



I avoid using the word spiritual, it's one of those words with such nebulous meaning that it's almost meaningless. I've always thought of the term human spirit as being related to positive, activity driven emotions; the spirit of endeavour, exploration, bravery etc. But in reality I think it's just as vague as saying spiritual.


Some things are over your paygrade dude.


The word is too nebulous for me to have any real meaning. I rarely have much idea what people mean when they use the word.


For me, whenever I get that weird, almost existential feeling (Christians call this the Holy Ghost), my brain processes that as a "spiritual" experience.
For me, those feelings are like tapping into the natural force of the Earth and connecting with it.


I don't use it, I have run into too many people with too many meanings for it.


I do not use the term -- ever.


Its pretty subjective, but my thoughts...

Religious would indicate that person is entangled with, identifies with one or more of the organized sects. Whether currently practicing or not.

Spiritual, on the other hand, would indicate a leaning toward a personal feeling of "religion" w/o any organization saying "THIS is what this is, and THIS is what we do, believe etc."

Altho I am agnostic, I have a TINY touch of 'spiritual leanings, tho, not with any "supreme entity" I may elaborate at some future time. ... Did that help?

looking forward to the elaboration


I believe that SOMETHING exists with the potential for creation. I just don’t believe that The Bible, or The Qu’ran, etc describe this being as it truly exists.


I am not spiritual, but I do believe that people have different definitions of it. I think that events and scenes that make one "awestruck," seem spiritual to some. For example, seeing the sunset in wonderful colors, or having a connection to nature can be included as spiritual.


I mean it as an insult.


Those who claim to be spiritual, but not religious, are not rejecting God but are rejecting organized religion. I stopped going to church years ago because I realized that every time I went to church, and I experimented with different churches, I felt further away from God, not closer to God. The rather obvious human authoritarian facade of organized religion was simply too off-putting for me. I realized that if I wanted to continue to believe in God with any sincerity and authenticity I would have to stop going to church, and so I did.

There is an old saying:
In the Beginning, God created Truth.
Then the devil said, "Let us organize it, and call it 'religion'."


As a spiritual humanist I generally consider "spiritual" to encompass all that is beyond the physical world that defies logical explanation within the bounds of current human capabilities.

These phenomena range from creativity, intuition and emotion to ESP, ghosts and reincarnation.

I am also a priest of spiritual humanism, largely to be able to legally perform ceremonies in any religion.


I go with #1.

The only one that seems to have a religious tone to it (to me) is #3.

marga Level 7 Feb 26, 2018

It means your not religious but then again you are a bit

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