Atheist, but seeking a more "spiritual" life?

Discussion in 'Agnosticism and Atheism' started by Trixie92, May 15, 2013.

  1. Trixie92

    Trixie92 Guest

    Hello. I wasn't sure what forum to put this thread in, but I think I might as well try here.

    I'm an atheist, and I have been for many years. I don't regret it, nor do I miss Christianity, the religion I grew up with. I have, what I think is a rational, scientific world view. I do not wish to return to what I see as dogmatic, irrational beliefs.

    I am however, unsatisfied with the hyper-materialistic, negative, semi-nihilistic road I think Western atheism tends to lead to. I seek philosophical and spiritual grounding to go alongside my atheism, not clash with it.

    I am attracted to Buddhism, but I don't think I can accept certain doctrinal elements - literal karma and reincarnation being examples.

    Does anyone here relate to this, or have any advice? I would greatly appreciate it.
  2. Victoria1987

    Victoria1987 Member

    I don't think I can say I relate to your attraction to Buddhism. It always felt like feel good, navel gazing nonsense to me, but I could offer some advice from one atheist to another. Even though I could probably be considered one of those materialistic, negative, nihilistic atheists that you mentioned.

    Why does it matter if you look into other belief systems? Do a little research and if you find something that speaks to you, go with it.

    If that leads you to inner peace or any sort of comfort, then that's fantastic. If it leads you away from atheism, then that's fine too. It's your life, your beliefs, your whatever. Don't worry too much about it.
  3. Deech

    Deech Member

    My advice. as a christian who has doubts on a regular occasion. Im just a happier person when im believing in god and all the bible teaches. even if it wasnt all true its still not a bad thing to live your life by. im not the kind of christian who runs around giving lessons and argueing with other beliefs i dont believe in.

    but if your looking for a more spiritual life try it out again. im not sayin go to church and meet fellow christians or whatever. just go to a bookstore. pick up a christian book and read it with an open mind youll be surprised.

    or that may only work for me. good luck with your struggle of no beliefs though.
  4. relaxxx

    relaxxx Senior Member

    You should first explain your definition of spiritual.

    "Semi nihilistic road", I do not agree with. I think most atheists have a deep respect for nature and sincerely value life. More-so even than theists because we understand the struggle of evolution. The millions of years it took my mammalian DNA to reach the level of human intelligence is deeply valuable. Acknowledging the fragility and complexity of information for what it is. I think believing it was snapped together in a few days by God is an insult to nature, it belittles the value of real life for a fantasy.
  5. Victoria1987

    Victoria1987 Member

    I don't know where this thought that atheists don't believe in anything comes from. We just don't believe in God or religion. It's not like our disbelief in those things prevents us from believing in other things or having a moral code.
  6. autophobe2e

    autophobe2e Senior Member

    i think its important to remember as atheists, that just because we disbelieve in god doesn't mean that ALL religion is therefore lacking in insight.

    remember that religion was our earliest attempt at cosmology, but it was also our earliest attempt at psychology and psychoanalysis, many religious belief systems can be read allegorically as being crude maps of the subconscious, rather than being held to be literally true.

    for the most part though, when you have nietzsche, mann, marx, hegel, schopenhauer, foucault, freud, lacan, kant, jung, proudhon, kropotkin, bakunin, goethe, Aristotle, Blake, Benjamin, Paine...

    the list goes on

    what more do you need?
  7. Trixie92

    Trixie92 Guest

    Thank you all for your replies. Anyway, I guess that I tend to find Western philosophy stuffy, impenetrable and ultimately unsatisfying. I feel like I miss something that I had when I was religious, and I want to get that back without having to subscribe to irrational beliefs. Does that make sense?

    I guess you could say a "comfort", but I don't need a comfort in the sense of eternal life (I'm glad that there's almost certainly nothing after death; the idea of existing forever terrifies me) or something like that but comfort in the sense that I can have sound... some kind of (ideally flexible) framework by which to understand myself and my life and be happier for it. I don't feel like Western philosophies give this at all, and my brief flirtations with Eastern philosophy did, but they require the belief in all manner of mumbo jumbo.
  8. Okiefreak

    Okiefreak Senior Member

    I consider myself to be a Christian, but am pretty ecclectic in my beliefs. When you say you're interested in something more "spiritual", I take that to mean something that gives you a greater sense of meaning or makes you feel connected to something greater than yourself. On the dating scene, "spiritual but not religious" seems to refer to a sense of transcendent or sacred meaning without creeds and rituals. Have you tried Anre Comte-Sponville's The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality. It's the best book I know of to address the issue you seem to be grappling with. You might also try Greg Epstein's Good Without God, which is more concerned with atheist morality.

    If you're looking for organizations of like-minded people, available networks will vary depending on your location. The American Humanist Association is the largest atheist organization that is mainly concerned with spiritual values. You might also check out the Unitarian-Universalist Church, which (despite the name church) has no doctrine. Some members are atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, naturalists and secular humanists. Others are Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and pagans. They are mainly secularists with a strong do-gooder ethos. In lieu of canned spirituality, you might develop your own. The great religious traditions offer wisdom as well as foolishness, and if you're discriminating you can learn from them all without swallowing their superstition. There's no reason why you can't accept the Buddhist wisdom while rejecting karma and reincarnation. Same goes for Christianity. Check out Rev. Robin Meyers, Saving Jesus From the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus and Marcus Borg, The God We Never Knew: Beyond Dogmatic Religion to a More Authentic Contempory Faith.
  9. guerillabedlam

    guerillabedlam _|=|-|=|_

    I find playing guitar and other instruments to be the closest thing to a "spiritual comfort," its not necessarily like that everytime, as often learning the instrument can require a good amount of discipline and determination but it can be very soothing and therapeutic . I don't really believe in a soul as some sort of autonomous spirit comprised separately from my body/being, but I do often feel a sense of release and ability to channel my inner desires, fears, triumphants, failures, loves, etc. (Qualities I think could
  10. smoothieUK

    smoothieUK Member

    Do you really have to stick a label on yourself? You have one life and at the end of it you die, your body gets recycled, whether we have a spirit or soul is something we aint going to know until the day we check out, so why not just live the life you have, fill your mind with knowledge and fulfil your desires.
  11. autophobe2e

    autophobe2e Senior Member

    It makes sense, but i don't know how to help. western philosophy deals largely in uncertainties, a lot of it is concerned with deconstructing slid foundations of traditional thought.

    religion tends to deal in comforting certainties, i think that having abandoned them, getting back into them would require a strange kind of double-think.

    normally i'd suggest treating religion as sustained allegory rather than fact, that way you can receive its insight without necessarily having to believe in God, but insight and interest is no comfort.

    its difficult to make yourself believe something out of convenience.
  12. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed and Confused Staff Member Super Moderator

    Some excellent points made in this thread.

    Atheism doesn't have to mean that there is no spiritual side to life, only that there is no separation of what you are from the rest of the universe. Once you separate yourself from the totality of existence you allow the concept of a seperate being to arise. Since you then seem to exist as only a small part of the whole, a feeling of something greater may occur. This greater thing can then be seen as the cause of the lesser, which seems to be you. And the concept of a Creator may come about.

    Karma, in Buddhism, means action, that is all. Action with consequences.
    There is no reincarnation in Buddhism, although some schools do talk about rebirth. There is no reincarnation as there is no "you" to reincarnate.
    The mumbo jumbo you are encountering is due to intentional misdirection by those using these philosophies to benefit themselves, or a misunderstanding of those philosophies by them, or you.

    When you have some time grab a cup of tea and find some Alan Watts YouTube videos and just listen without judgement. Pick any one of them, they're all good. Watts was an Episcopal priest and student of Zen Buddhism who blended Christianity and Asian philosophy.

    I don't really like Western Philosophy either but Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig is an excellent book that unites some western ideas with some Eastern.

    The Tao Te Ching is a very good book that is non religious and very spiritual.
  13. Cherea

    Cherea Senior Member

    So much depends on where you're coming me, atheism is still not atheist enough. Atheism to me is relativistic, deterministic, and materialistic.

    Everything else seems like sugarcoated Christianity to me.
  14. autophobe2e

    autophobe2e Senior Member

    see i'm the opposite way,

    like you, i've only briefly flirted with eastern philosophy, but it always left me cold. same way with french philosophy to a certain extent. i resent the way they appear to deny, avoid, ignore or spiritualise out of existence; the question of the body and mortality. plus i kind of felt that my reasons for doing it were a kind of primitivism, which is kind of problematic for me, especially coming from England. German philosophy tends to emphasise the void, negation, nothingness, while realising the impossibility of actually talking about death in ways which aren't totally abstract, it still recognizes its centrality. but it contains no comfort, only fascination.

    we shit therefore we are :D

    also, the above poster has a point, atheism tends towards relativism and materialism. idealism tends to be the religious way.

    anyway, each to their own, man, you'll probably cobble something that works for you together, it just takes a shitload of reading lol
  15. TopNotchStoner

    TopNotchStoner Georgia Homegrown

    I don't know about spirituality, but if you're looking to feel "connected" to something, watch this video:"]The Most Astounding Fact - Neil deGrasse Tyson - YouTube
  16. inthydreams911

    inthydreams911 Senior Member

    Spirituality and science are really two sides of the same coin, the discovery of who and what we are. Spiritualist looks inner, and the scientist looks outer.

    The fact that something caused you to reach out and ask questions about this subject, may well be the spiritual part of you trying to reveal itself.

    See your right to not blindly follow religion. Religion can really be a dead process depending on how it is gone about... But All religion were based on a core of truth. Christ, Buddha, and Krishna all saw the same thing, but they interpret it their different ways.

    Now is a time in society where spirituality is starting to expose itself again. There are thousands of youtube videos documenting certain unexplained miracles. But these miracles may only seem like miracles to us.

    Imagine trying to explain how a microwave oven works to an earthworm. It cant be done, no matter how many times you said something, how many translators you got, the little worm wouldn't comprehend, nor does it need to comprehend. What does an earthworm need to know about a microwave for. If for some reason he ever saw one it use it would appear as some cosmic miracle happening from the gods, but really he just can't see the bigger picture.

    The world of spirit may seems mysterious, miraculous, and unbelievable, which it is to us! But to any higher being its just another reality frame, perhaps a extremely less limited more intelligent reality frame, but just everyday physics for them.

    Their are a few ways to actually experience what I am talking about rather then just hearing the blah blah of it. The best but possibly the most time consuming and dedicated process is that of meditation and yoga. You can through certain techniques transcend your physical body and witness these higher realms.

    Another faster techniques, but perhaps less efficient, is to partake in the psychedelic experience. The best guide for spirit realm would be the mushroom most likely. Lsd and mescaline will also be very helpful too.

    If you want the 3 o clock train straight into the other world, take DMT. It will bring forth the light of what you really are, and the depth at which you go.
  17. relaxxx

    relaxxx Senior Member

    Spirit; unless you're talking about the electrical-chemical state of your brain,
    then you're talking superstitious BULL SHIT!
  18. TopNotchStoner

    TopNotchStoner Georgia Homegrown

  19. Meliai

    Meliai Banned

    Yoga, meditation, poetry,knowledge,nature, silence, music

    These are the things that work for me
  20. inthydreams911

    inthydreams911 Senior Member

    Their is a book called Proof of Heaven, by a Nueroscientist named Eben Alexander. Him like many others thought that consciousness is just a neuralogical function. Once the brain died, consciousness died.

    He had a near death experience and visited a realm much realer and much larger then our reality. He met an intelligent force that was a personal god, not just the impersonal stephen hawkings god.

    A lot of people have NDE experiences, but the fact that it comes from a neuroscientist, someone who deals with the brain all day. Someone who deals with death on a day to day bases.

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