Spiritual But Not Religious in 2012 – VIII

To a great extent, mass-movement SBNR is what happens when spirituality encounters the idea of free society, and when spiritual events occur to people whose identity has been formed in a modern secular context. Thus, as the secular spreads, so does SBNR.

It was the secular and free-market milieu opened up by the Chinese Communist Party which allowed the qigong movement to happen.

In Japan, SBNR is usually quite strongly separated from the religious. In America though, the large religious population implies more common ground. Interestingly the UK is mostly far closer to the Japanese situation.

Seeing that, I understand some of the conversations I’ve had with my American pals, who don’t perceive as strong a line between spiritual and religious. This is just one example of the currently increasing divergence between Europe and the US.

SBNR may thus be more European than American, especially since the US Enlightenment was not anti-religious in the same way as the French. But probably not much more. (Glenn was totally SBNR and they don’t come much more American either.)

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4 responses to “Spiritual But Not Religious in 2012 – VIII

  • mirjhar

    “SBNR is what happens […] when spiritual events occur to people whose identity has been formed in a modern secular context.”

    That’s certainly what happened to me.

    One thing that distinguishes spirituality from religion in my case is that my personal spiritual experiences have mostly been “negative” (i.e. bad), whereas religion tends to focus (usually obsessively) on the “positive” (i.e. good). I don’t know how common my kind of experience is – not very, I expect.

    • Jason Wingate

      Hi mirjhar,

      I don’t know how common my kind of experience is – not very, I expect.

      It might be an idea to find out! Have you done any looking into the reports on the kinds of experiences you mean?

      SBNR has encouraged lots of documentation of that kind. But records of this stuff are kept in many religions too.

      As far as I can ascertain, negative experiences of a great many kinds are a pretty consistent feature of human nonphysical experience, whether religious or otherwise. In modern times they are perhaps more often viewed as ‘paranormal’ than as spiritual — depending on the experience.

      Both religion and SBNR also usually evolve ways of palliating or cancelling such experiences as well. I hope you’ve got hold of something that works… I suspect not though… Have you found anyone knowledgeable to talk to about this? You may have found many therapists, even if they have a clue on the transpersonal, are a little clueless about this stuff… j

      • mirjhar

        I have a helpful counsellor. (At last! It only took 40 years to find one …) Although apparently not committed to any particular spiritual/paranormal/magical/religious/transpersonal beliefs (if I may run all those things together, for the sake of brevity!), he seems open-minded, and knowledgeable about Jung, in particular. I strenuously avoid saying too much about the weird/synchronistic/uncanny side of things, because it could too easily obliterate discussion of the purely psychological/personal. Not that anything is “purely” personal, I think; I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that the latter always carries the former in its train, anyway; we are essentially magical beings, and that is why scientism, by eschewing magic, necessarily obliterates the personal as well. The personal is always intrinsically also transpersonal. No space to explain this properly, even if I could (and I can’t!). No space also for a massive tangential rant about how the insane and confused notion of “mental illness”, as promulgated by the medical profession and the drug companies, all but obliterates the possibility of validating “negative” experiences in something like the same way as religion and theology already attempt to validate “positive” ones. Bwahahah, they said Einstein was mad!

  • Jason Wingate

    I have a helpful counsellor. (At last! It only took 40 years to find one …)

    Not uncommon. :) I hope you’ve found effective measures to take care of the less tangible side of things too.

    No space to explain this properly, even if I could (and I can’t!).

    No need. It makes perfect sense to me.

    As far as “mental illness” is concerned (from the R.D. Laing point of view for example), I certainly wouldn’t expect materialists to grasp the nature of negative transpersonal experiences, or positive ones for that matter, especially if they were the type to sell pills of course.

    But all these experiences are validated in other SBNR areas of the culture, outside of therapy and psychology.

    Negative experiences are certainly validated inside some religions — those religions with actual connection to mysticism. That’s why the Vatican, along with Orthodox churches, still employs exorcists. The job they do of course is one that they say Christ did himself, so why not?

    Possession and negative entity experiences are recognised by most major religions and by non-religious spirituality, as well as Hell experiences and negative NDEs/OBEs, plus plenty of other things from very subtle to very overt. So I would say there’s validation enough, but only in the right venues. Therapy usually isn’t one of those, as you say…

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