Being Spiritual but not Religious (SBNR)

In India, millennials are ditching orthodox religions and embracing spirituality. There is a distinct movement towards spirituality, and it is led by the young crowd.

SBNRs don’t look at old books or doctrines for guidance, but look within themselves. They connect with their true self and find the answers inside.

Religious Authorities predictably denounce self-spirituality, and provide their reasons. They say this leads to narcissism, hedonism, or both, but in reality, they are terrified that people are allowed to choose not to follow any religion, and eventually will not participate in hating other religions as a side-effect.

The term spirituality has one of two connotations: One is a classic religious one; the other is inspired by New Age Culture. Both categories embody spirituality better than cold, hard reason.
In a broad sense, both categories seem to move away from a world of science and reason.

  • True spirituality is defined by the skepticism of both today’s religions and today’s science. Spirituality is individualistic, and the opposite of dogmatism.
  • True rationality is open-ended and skeptical about itself even if it does its best, understanding that it is not possible to know everything.

Self spirituality has its roots in the 1960s counterculture and the ‘Rights Revolution, and focuses on individual rights, where there is no one size fits all rules.

They feel complete within themselves and have no inclination towards joining any religious institution which has specific rules, as for them it is just another cult full of greed, corruption and fear-mongering.

Humanity is sacralized in Self-spirituality, which automatically makes it an obvious choice for the millennials and youngsters already fed up with how the world works.

This also makes them make sustainable choices like recycling and veganism. While the old-school conservatives label these human-centric feelings as lacklustre, many of the liberals celebrate the individual freedom it provides.

  1. People that believe there is more to the world than meets the eye, more than the mere material.
  2. People that attend to their inner life (their mental and emotional states) in the hopes of gaining self-knowledge.
  3. People that value the following virtues: being compassionate, empathetic and open-hearted.

Spirituality is a framework for understanding the world. It enables people to make sense of that which, for them, science and religion fail to address: religion because it’s outdated and out of touch with scientific progress, science because it’s incapable to answer some of life’s most crucial questions (of purpose, meaning and value).

The Dalai Lama once joked: “While the West was busy exploring outer space, the East was busy exploring inner space”.
Regardless of the veracity of this, it does seem that for contemporary western societies, silence and stillness are an exception, not the rule.

It means acting wisely in the world by first reaching a high level of self-knowledge.
This is acquired through meditation, self-reflection, and psychotherapy and leads one to become more sensitive to the emotions of others, and even to one’s surrounding environments.