By  Lissa Rankin MD,

When I talk to some people about spirituality, they commonly respond with, “Oh, but I’m not religious,” to which I respond, “Yeah, me neither.” Then they look a bit puzzled. The way I see it, every religion is some human being’s interpretation of spiritual principles, and while there’s a lot of overlap in the teachings of all religions that probably points to some spiritual truth, I find myself resisting any dogma that says that one way is “The Way” and everything else is hogwash.

Ages ago, I wrote about my “Grab Bag Religion”. Some critique such an approach to spirituality, arguing that those who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious” lack the discipline that comes from focus on one religious pathway. Others say that the California-style “It’s all good” approach to spirituality fails to offer clear morals and strict values. This may be a valid criticism. Certainly spiritual practice can deepen one’s spiritual journey, and living a life of integrity tends to accompany spiritual commitment.

I certainly respect those who have found a religious discipline that feels aligned with their truth, but after investigating many religious paths, none felt truly authentic to my soul.

Though Buddhism most closely resonates with me and though I’m attracted to the yogic tradition, I still say that Jesus is my favorite. And yet, I don’t consider myself a Buddhist or a committed yogini or a Christian.  I tend to resonate with the Buddhist teachings of non-dualism, especially the way Adyashanti teaches, but I’m also attracted to the Divine Feminine goddess worship of the yogic tradition, especially the way Sera Beak expresses it. I also love the Sufi mystic poets like Rumi and Hafiz. Yet, no deity speaks to my heart more than Jesus, who strikes me as perhaps the most loving being to have ever walked the earth in human form

If you mix all those together, you get a flavor of the cocktail of my spiritual inklings. But yours might taste quite different, and I think that’s perfectly okay.

Defining “Spiritual But Not Religious”

If you, like me, consider yourself “spiritual but not religious,” what does that even mean?

Christine Hassler, my soul sister and author of Expectation Hangover, recently wrote:

Spirituality is one’s capacity to be guided. It is not about how much we mediate. Or how often we go to church. Or how many yoga poses or Sanskrit words we know. Or how much time we spend praying. Or how many Om pieces of jewelry we have. Spirituality is really about how much we get out of our own way and allow ourselves to be guided by God.

That means . . .

Letting go of expectations.

Releasing attachments to the way we think things should be.

Quieting the voice of our ego so we can hear the voice of inner wisdom.

Making changes that maybe scary and facing uncertainty with faith.

Being of service to others that Spirit places in our lives in often unexpected ways.

I thought that was pretty much the best definition of “spiritual but not religious” that I had ever heard. I might add that spirituality is a commitment to walking the spiritual path from the head to the heart. It’s a choice to free yourself from letting your ego take the lead in your life so you can surrender your ego’s attachments and instead, let your soul take the wheel. It’s the decision to choose love over fear — to withhold judgment of yourself or others, to stop labeling everything as “right” or “wrong,” to transition from a black and white “dualistic” world to a non-dual perspective that is comfortable with paradox. It’s the willingness to make your life an offering to the Divine in whatever form you resonate with a Higher Power, whether it’s God or some other deity or just the Divine within yourself (which I call “Your Inner Pilot Light“). It’s your commitment to learning to receive, interpret, and discern spiritual guidance, mixed with the courage to actually act upon this guidance, even when it directs you away from what your ego wants.

(If you’re not sure how to receive this guidance, listen to this free teleclass I recorded with Rachel Naomi Remen —  10 Ways Your Soul Guides Your In Daily Life.)

When you choose to live by these principles and your prayer becomes “Make me a vessel for Divine love in the world,” you are definitely on the spiritual path, whether or not you consider yourself religious. And when you realize that orchestrating your life around the ego’s grasping desires and attachments fails to truly fulfill you, you free yourself from the prison of the hungry ghost of the ego, which never gets fulfilled, no matter how many goals you achieve or how much money you earn or how much love or sex you attract. Once you stop letting fear rule your life, you become free. The reward from the challenges of the spiritual path is inner peace — true lasting relief from human suffering, regardless of the chaos happening around you. And that makes it all worth it. Really.

As an added side effect, living this way is medicine not just for the soul, but for the body. As I described in Mind Over Medicine and as I dig deeper into in my upcoming book The Fear Cure, when you’re no longer living in a state of constant fear, anxiety, and stress, the nervous system rests in the relaxation response and the body naturally begins to heal.

The Spiritual Path

Making a commitment to the spiritual path is no small task, and many who consider themselves “religious” are not on the spiritual path at all (though many are). Just because someone is faithful to religious rules doesn’t mean they’re committed to freeing themselves from the prison of fear and an ego-driven life. Sometimes, their egos are just grasping to the rules of their religion as a way to structure their egoic world view and use it as an opportunity to judge those who don’t share their world view. This isn’t meant to judge those who are committed to a particular religion. Many religious people are definitely on the spiritual path. But the two don’t always go together.

In my opinion, anyone who kills others in the name of religion or judges those who choose to have abortions or bans homosexuals from their spiritual community is not truly walking the spiritual path (no judgment, of course). When religion becomes an excuse to practice fear, hatred, and judgment, it takes us away from what I consider true spirituality, which is the opportunity to practice radical love, compassion, forgiveness, and surrender to Divine Will, even when you’re asked to open your heart to those you find most challenging to love.

Love Without Conditions

When I wrote a controversial blog post right after Osama bin Laden was killed (you can read it on  here), I was trying to shine a light  on  the judgment that is so common in our fear and judgment-based culture. We judge terrorists because they’re “bad people” and we dance in the streets when we kill them. But weren’t we upset with the terrorists because they were judging us for not being Muslim enough? How is countering judgment with judgment spiritual?

Yet, we cling to our judgment with a fierce righteousness we seem reluctant to release, almost as if we think our judgment protects us. Many forget that our ultimate protection lies in living lives committed to the practice of love. This doesn’t mean we condone the behavior of terrorists. But when Osama bin Laden was killed, a human being lost his life. His family may have been grieving his loss. And it made me feel a bit sick to see us celebrating when a human life had been taken. I can only hope that as we experience the shift in human consciousness that is underway, we will love more and judge less as we remember that we are all connected — all of us, even the Osama bin Laden’s of the world.

Releasing Judgment

I’m feeling inspired to write more about what it means to release judgment and to replace judgment with compassionate discernment. So stay tuned. I have a lot more to say about this and will share more thoughts next week. Until then, share your thoughts about your own spiritual path.

Are you religious? Spiritual but not religious? Not into spirituality at all?

Are you willing to try to withhold judgment of others?

Can you practice radical forgiveness while setting appropriate boundaries and using discernment to keep you and your loved ones safe?

We’d love to hear from you in the comments.



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Disclaimer: We at Prepare for Change (PFC) bring you information that is not offered by the mainstream news, and therefore may seem controversial. The opinions, views, statements, and/or information we present are not necessarily promoted, endorsed, espoused, or agreed to by Prepare for Change, its leadership Council, members, those who work with PFC, or those who read its content. However, they are hopefully provocative. Please use discernment! Use logical thinking, your own intuition and your own connection with Source, Spirit and Natural Laws to help you determine what is true and what is not. By sharing information and seeding dialogue, it is our goal to raise consciousness and awareness of higher truths to free us from enslavement of the matrix in this material realm.


  1. This was a breath of fresh air, thank you!

    They call me the seeker, I’ve been searching low and high… hehe!

    I lost my faith in Christianity not because of Christ, but because of hell and damnation preaching bibliolaters. I finally realized, that they worship a book and not the living Spirit of God. Of course, I have been deceived by satan, who appears as an angel of light.

    After losing my “religion”, I devoured NDE’s. I thought perhaps it’s best to go straight to the horse’s mouth. These experiences just resonate with my spirit, I feel their truth very deeply. Of course, I have been told that they are elaborate deceptions from the devil, because he appears as an angel of light. God couldn’t possibly accept everyone with unfathomable love and zero judgement. That concept is clearly evil (tongue in cheek).

    Now, I am fully immersed in The Law of One. I find it absolutely fascinating! The way I see it, is that it is a more thorough and articulated explanation of the inexpressible things NDE experiencers try to communicate to us. Such beautiful concepts!

    Have an excellent day, Love and Light to you all!!!! <3

  2. Being spiritual is part of my nature as a human being.
    And since I was a child I’ve been outside of organized religion.
    Why? because my restless soul made me know tantra yoga in my 35 and then “New Teachings for a waking humanity”
    Through the spirit I seek my personal fulfillment and I still do not achieve this.
    Therefore, I am a spiritualist on the surface, trying to find myself.

  3. I so love your description. Thank you.

    I’ve been working on judgment, as well. Setting boundaries… My version is that judgment is sticky and when we’re judging someone, we’re judging something we don’t like/own about ourselves (good ole mirror). The judgment also limits our vision, we can only see what we’re judging and not much else – tunnel vision, which doesn’t allow for new input. So, that’s what I’m doing.

    Thank you again.

  4. At the age of 7-8 I asked my mother, who is God, her reply, go and find out, or something like that or that was my understanding, because I immediately attended the 5 established churches in my small village where I was raised high in the mountains of Northern California, surrounded by lush forest land which became my established church at a very young age, but I digress. I preceded to attend all 5 churches but after feeling the pressure from church goers to come back again, over and over, I declined to return. Later, I sensed that reason was not only feeling pressured to return but the overwhelming presence of the Matriarch in all of them and asked my young self, where is the Feminine, the Goddess, that I always felt in Mother Nature? The natural birth and death cycles of all plant life, the birth and death cycles of wild animals that appeared so natural to me, without a drop of fear. Long story short, I traveled around the world on a dime and investigated other major , religions of the world. I learned to mediate, practiced Yoga, looked into many Gurus that were a dime a dozen during the hippy movement, never following any of them but took away, pearls of wisdom, I called them, from my studies while traveling and with each Guru I listened to or read about, which became my sense of spirituality that became my own and without a doubt each and every human and animal I met along the way had something to teach me and by judging anyone is just one more opportunity we missed in this Divine cycle of life on this amazing Divine planet that in a blink of an eye we drop these bag of bones while our Spirit/Soul are once again transformed, but that is only my belief.
    Be in service, and pray for self and all sentient beings. May the Feminine and the Masculine join hands to once again create Balance on Planet Earth and Beyond. Fearlessly. <3

  5. To me, religions are basically man-made……..if you believe that the bible is God’s word, or inspired by God, then why not do what’s already in the bible? If people did this, there’d be no such thing as all the different ‘religions’ there are today!!!!

    whatever’s in the bible is what we should do/live by..NOT some man-made interpretation of it!!!!!!! the only organization I have found that does this is ‘TOMORROW’S WORLD”…they teach and use what’s in the BIBLE, not what some ‘religion’ says……
    thus, no Xmas/Easter celebrations………not in the bible!
    no ‘lent’ …..not in the bible!
    confessing your sins to a ‘priest’……….not in the bible!
    worship of Mary………..not in the bible!
    sunday as ‘the lord’s day’…………not in the bible……
    no ‘not eating meat on Fridays’………..not in the bible

    I’m using catholic-based items as I was raised catholic & couldn’t wait to get out of it!!!! LOL..

    and so on and so on………..

    but, alas, folks want to go along with what MAN has decreed to be ‘christianity” and not what the bible says…….

    sure makes no sense to me……does it to you?

    so for me, ‘spiritual but not religious’ means I accept that there is a God, and Jesus, & that I try to live as the saying ‘do unto others’ would have us do……..

    all for now!!!!

    • By that mentality, your doctrine is only about 500 years old.
      Martin Luther and other leading figures of the Reformation IMO exacerbated Christianity as a whole. Now you have about 40,000 sects and they disagree with each other. Which do you belong?

      By the way, did the Bible/scriptures just fall from the sky? There would no need for the drama of the Cross, and the Passion of the (begotten) Son. That’s according to one Orthodox theologian.

  6. You have some inkling of the truth, but you’re ultimately babbling unhelpful nonsense. A person not already acquainted with truth wouldn’t gain from your words because you are still confused.

    Spiritual refers to eternal, conscious, living beings, or “us” and the Supreme Person, or God, who created everything. Spirit is distinct from matter, which is unconscious and non-living. Our bodies are matter, our self’s are spirit. Matter is temporary and endlessly changing. Spirit is eternal and immutable. We live forever, all of us. We have always been, we will always be. Nothing can alter this truth. Our bodies come and go.

    God, the Supreme, Perfect, All-Pure resides in an eternal world where He plays eternally with His created beings. A few of us became curious/envious about being Him so He created this “matrix-like” world in which we can play out our fantasy of being god.

    He gives instructions on how to return to the party, once we get over ourselves, but these instructions become religions in the hands of others like ourselves, and used against one another in the matrix world battle for domination. Pay no attention to religions, they are side-distractions for and by the prisoners here. Surrender directly to the Supreme Person and become His loving devotee, then your life becomes perfect.

  7. Great article Lisa, thank you. It is difficult to break through the body/soul dichotomy, but it is necessary. I conclude from my work that we are spiritual beings living a spiritual life, albeit in a physical environment. That differs from most peoples views of course, but as I think you know, when we apply spiritual values like diligence, fortitude, love , honesty and so forth to our daily endeavours, enlightenment takes place without even asking. Stress and anxiety fade away. Spirituality becomes strikingly vivid and clear. Spiritual consciousness manifests. Experience that and you never want to let go.


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